aerial view of the Amazon river

Universities

Fall 2012 | Volume XII, Number 1

Table of Contents

Editor’s Letter →

by June Carolyn Erlick

First Take

First Take: Innovating Universities

First Take: Innovating Universities

The next decade of higher education in Latin America will have a very important influence in the future of Latin America itself. It is in universities that most of the public and private leadership will be educated. It is in universities that many of the ideas about how to…

Reflecting on Excellence

Catholic Universities

Catholic Universities

On July 20, when this article was already sent to the editor, Vatican State Secretary Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone prohibited the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú from using the words “pontificia” and “católica” in its name. Reasons were given—some false and…

Move Over da Vinci!

Move Over da Vinci!

On the cusp of the “Age of Reason” in Mexico City, the jewel in the crown of Spanish America, the Royal and Pontifical University’s Professor of Mathematics, Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645-1700) sat at his desk, one may imagine, his fine English microscope…

Management in Latin American Universities

Management in Latin American Universities

It is often said that universities are conservative organizations, slow to change, wedded to their ancient rites and cherished routines, or to newer traditions more of the “invented” type, as when universities established in the twentieth century in Latin America distort history…

Bestias frágiles aunque tenaces

Bestias frágiles aunque tenaces

With the phrase “fragile, though tenacious beasts,” philosopher George Steiner attempted to describe the complex circumstances that permeate the institutional life of universities throughout the world, in his book Errata: An Examined Life. Despite today’s sweeping…

Bestias frágiles aunque tenaces

Higher Education: Peru and Beyond

With the phrase “fragile, though tenacious beasts,” philosopher George Steiner attempted to describe the complex circumstances that permeate the institutional life of universities throughout the world, in his book Errata: An Examined Life. Despite today’s sweeping…

Innovation and Quality

Venezuela: Forging Knowledge

Venezuela: Forging Knowledge

How does a student figure out how to be a petroleum engineer or a social worker? The traditional path is to study, then get an internship and finally go out into the real world. At the Universidad Tecnológica del Centro (UNITEC) in Valencia, Venezuela, we have incorporated…

The MECESUP Program in Chile

The MECESUP Program in Chile

As the rain poured down on a gloomy day in Concepción that June in 1997, I received a rather unexpected phone call from the Ministry of Education. I had just ended an eight-year stretch as vice-president of research at Universidad de Concepción in the south of Chile and…

Doctorates, Colombian Style

Doctorates, Colombian Style

“You do know this will be the kiss of death to your academic career” was the unenthusiastic response of my adviser to the news that I was going to marry a classmate and move to his native Colombia. It was 1990 and I was ABD in Yale’s doctoral program in political science. I…

University Faculty

University Faculty

One of my favorite things to do in the cold New England months of January and February is to go to Wilson Farm in Lexington, Massachusetts, and marvel at the wide variety of out-of-season fresh fruit. I have always wondered where it comes from, how it…

Student-Centered University Learning

Student-Centered University Learning

Teachers teach. Students learn. This is the dominant paradigm of university education in Latin America. But is this age-old model sufficient to prepare students for tomorrow in a rapidly evolving region clamoring for innovation? More and more, educational reformers…

Access and Accountability

Capitalism in the Classrooms?

Capitalism in the Classrooms?

All over Latin America, for-profit private universities are flourishing. They range from excellent elite institutions in wealthy neighborhoods to so-called “garage universities” of uneven equality that teach varied trades and professions. However, Brazil’s strenuous exit test on completing…

Combating Inequity through Higher Education

Combating Inequity through Higher Education

Public and private sectors must form alliances in order to offer quality education for the majority of the population. Throughout the Americas, students have been protesting, particularly around the issue of burdensome student loans. In Canada, the United States…

Retos y Problemas

Retos y Problemas

Higher education is a hot topic in Colombia. In 2011, students went on strike and into the streets to protest a proposed reform to the 20-year-old higher education law known as Law 30, saying that the changes would lead to the privatization of education. Thirty-two…

Retos y Problemas

Taking on the Challenges (English version)

Higher education is a hot topic in Colombia. In 2011, students went on strike and into the streets to protest a proposed reform to the 20-year-old higher education law known as Law 30, saying that the changes would lead to the privatization of education. Thirty-two…

In the Eye of the Beholder

In the Eye of the Beholder

It’s ridiculous to imagine that anyone would want poor quality from any product or service that they needed. So, not surprisingly, the many “consumers” of higher education want good, if not outstanding, quality as well. But what does that mean exactly? It’s relatively simple to…

Affirmative Action

From War to Progress

From War to Progress

María del Carmen Cumatz is an elementary school teacher from a small town in the Guatemalan highlands in Sololá. In 2006 she became the first member of her family to obtain a university degree when she graduated with a teaching certificate from the Universidad del…

Breaking a Vicious Cycle of Social Exclusion

Breaking a Vicious Cycle of Social Exclusion

The Brazilian Congress approved a bill in August imposing a quota of 50 percent of all available slots in federal universities for students coming from public schools, with the ethnic component within this quota matching that of the state in which the university is located…

Affirmative Action in Brazil

Affirmative Action in Brazil

Affirmative action policies can take a person’s race into account, the Brazilian Supreme Court unanimously ruled on April 26, 2012. The Court found the use of racial quotas constitutional, allowing both public and private higher educational institutions to reserve a certain percentage of slots for undergraduate students, most of them, coming from public secondary schools…

Students and Social Change

Venezuela’s Student Movement

Venezuela’s Student Movement

Students in Venezuela have an 84 percent confidence rating in polls among the public, higher even than the Church or banks, according to www.datanalisis.com. Our struggle for democracy sometimes feels like the struggle of David against Goliath. However, we insist on…

Chile’s Student Protests

Chile’s Student Protests

Less than a decade ago, academics and journalists almost always referred to Chile as a “model” country, praising its economy, political transition and democracy. Always a simplistic characterization, it nonetheless stuck for many years, until the unexpected 2011 explosion…

Student Activism

Student Activism

“Democracy, here? That is a joke!” remarked Veronica, one of the thousands of “rechazados” who failed to be admitted to Latin America’s largest public university (UNAM) and leading representative of the “Yo Soy 132 Movement.” For this 19–year old student, who preferred…

Making a Difference

Book Talk

Nossa and Nuestra América: Inter-American Dialogues

Nossa and Nuestra América: Inter-American Dialogues

Robert Newcomb’s Nossa and Nuestra América: Inter-American Dialogues is a must-read study on Latin American social thought that deals with the tense and productive relationship between Spanish America and Brazil. The book made me realize how the underlying forces structuring this dialogue…