Latin America Universities Summit 2021 to prioritise long-term goals for region

Two-day event, in partnership with the University of São Paulo, will focus on socio-economic recovery in Latin and Central America, and future visions for universities in the era of impact

July 9, 2021
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Investigating the university’s role as a progressive force for society will be the focus of the second virtual Times Higher Education Latin America Universities Summit, in partnership with the University of São Paulo (USP). Over two days, the summit will launch new research and feature keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops focused on themes such as internationalisation, building research capacity, and fortifying partnerships within the public and private sector to maximise impact and ameliorate the region’s infrastructure challenges. The summit will also host the live reveal of the THE Latin America University Rankings 2021.

Phil Baty, THE’s chief knowledge officer said: “Latin America has continually demonstrated great resilience and creativity despite acute political challenges and the devastating impact of Covid-19. We are thrilled to have a fantastic host partner in the University of São Paulo to anchor our 2021 programme, which epitomises this spirit of resilience and creativity. Building on the conversations cultivated at last year’s Latin America Universities Summit, which stressed the importance of an interdisciplinary approach when tackling the socio-economic effects of the pandemic, this event will provide fertile ground for international scholars and industry leaders alike to reassess their long-term global goals, and investigate how to transform these new and adaptable skills into meaningful change.”

The opening keynote address will be led by Vahan Agopyan, rector of USP, in conversation with Jaime Saavedra, former minister of education for the Peruvian government and now global director of education practice at the World Bank Group, discussing how administrations across Latin and Central America can match their neighbours to the north in “building back better” in a post-Covid era.

The following panel discussions will seek to paint a broader picture of the long-term effects of the pandemic in Latin America. Heidi Berner, vice-rector of economic affairs and institutional management at the University of Chile, will weigh in on the financial ramifications and opportunities for public funding. Sylvio Canuto, provost of research at USP, will join fellow researchers to emphasise how universities can mitigate future challenges. After a data masterclass identifying the region’s performance in the latest THE Impact Rankings, Neil Hernández Gress, associate vice-rector for research at the Monterrey Institute of Technology, and Tito Crissien, Colombian minister of science, technology and innovation, will explore how to reach a shared vision of higher education’s impact. 

The announcement of the 2021 Latin America University Rankings and data masterclass will be followed by the exclusive launch of a Unesco IESALC report  on the transformative effects of the pandemic on the sector’s landscape in Latin America, presented by Francesc Pedró, director of the Institute for Higher Education at Unesco.

Mr Baty added: “Over the course of this programme, we will address questions such as: how can increased digitisation advance society instead of deepening pre-existing divides? And: how can we ensure that the life-changing potential of universities is recognised as a national priority post-pandemic, and preserved through adequate investment?”

The final session of the first day will provide delegates with an interactive forum on the future of international networking in a net zero world, led by Tim Sowula, head of content and engagement for the World Summit Series at THE.

The second day of the summit will pose questions on internationalisation and digital transformation. The first panel will focus on enhancing the reputation of universities in the region to bolster international partnerships, with conversations between Cristina Amon, dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto, and Steve Currall, president of the University of South Florida. Dante Cid, vice-president of academic relations for Latin America at Elsevier, will engage with Eduardo Vera, director of international affairs at the University of Chile, on enriching global teaching networks within the region to develop a unique and coveted international brand. Drawing the conversations back to the burgeoning talent hub across countries in Latin and Central America, Claudia Costin, founder and director of the Center for Education Policies, and Carlos Gilberto Carlotti Júnior, provost of postgraduate studies at USP, will converse on implementing policies to retain local talent.

Over the final two sessions, Rodolfo Azevedo, president of São Paulo State Virtual University, will examine whether the acceleration of hybrid learning has real, long-term benefits, with panellists including Jeff Maggioncalda, chief executive officer of Coursera, and Patricia Zalamea, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of the Andes, Colombia, assessing how reforms can be crystallised to acknowledge the full potential of Latin American higher education.

Professor Agopyan said: “The University of São Paulo is honoured to host the THE Latin America Universities Summit 2021 on 13-14 July in partnership with Times Higher Education, bringing together distinguished regional and global leaders in higher education, industry and government. With a comprehensive and interactive agenda, we expect to explore relevant issues concerning the engagement and impact of universities on national and regional development. The summit will certainly be an excellent opportunity to discuss our challenges and expectations in the effort to rebuild our societies and economies after the Covid-19 pandemic from a more equitable and sustainable perspective.”

Click here to register for the virtual Times Higher Education Latin America Universities Summit 2021 on 13-14 July.

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