Partnership Aims to Transform Education in U.S., Colombia

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Purdue University and Colombian business executives recently concluded a gathering focused on growing the relationship between the school and the South American nation. The University of the Future workshop included leaders from six Colombian universities and the country's ambassador to the United States. November 10, 2014

News Release

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A group of educators, government officials and business executives from Colombia and Purdue University have begun work that ultimately will bring ideas for transforming higher education to all of the Americas.

The group gathered at Purdue in late October to begin laying the foundation through a workshop called University of the Future.

The ideas generated build on Purdue Moves, through which the university's faculty, staff and administration are working to make higher education more affordable and value-added, providing new opportunities for students, addressing problems of national and global significance, and contributing toward economic development locally and regionally.

"The group came together in a spirit of working and thinking collaboratively," said Suresh Garimella, Purdue's executive vice president for research and partnerships. "We are striving to build on and spread the important partnership we have developed with Colombia. Through partnerships and joint programs with leading institutions, we hope to help transform higher education in Colombia and throughout Central and South America, while offering Purdue researchers and students new opportunities to work and study."

Purdue has had a strong relationship with Colombia since a 2010 agreement formed the foundation for the Colombia-Purdue Institute. This agreement initiated a series of partnerships among Purdue and institutions in Colombia, including universities, companies, government ministries and non-governmental organizations. Collectively, the partnerships focus on faculty and student mobility, joint educational initiatives such as service learning, collaborative research aimed at addressing issues of national interest to Colombia and the United States, and commercialization programs that could open new business opportunities for Colombia and the United States.

Those attending the University of the Future Workshop included leaders of six Colombian universities and the Colombian ambassador to the United States, Luis Carlos Villegas.

"Education is of utmost importance to Colombia and, along with equality and peace, it is one of the pillars of President Juan Manuel Santos' second term in office," Villegas said. "I was happy to join Purdue University and rectors of universities from all parts of Colombia in the discussion about how we can work together to improve higher education in Colombia."

The workshop participants focused on four areas of transformation:

-Teaching and learning, including content and processes.

-Developing the "whole student" beyond just technical knowledge.

-Faculty development, including focused doctoral programs, international programs and mentoring.

-Fostering commercialization through existing innovation centers and new entrepreneurship programs.

The workshop is an outgrowth of a visit by Purdue President Mitch Daniels to Colombia in January. During that visit, he announced the opening of an office in Medellin, run by Liliana Gomez Diaz, director of Colombian partnerships and engagement for Purdue.

He also unveiled the Latin American Technical, Research and Administrative Leaders (LATeRAL) program, designed to build strategic partnerships with select universities in Latin America in the training of students at the graduate level. These students will be future leaders ready to meet 21st century challenges as they help transform education and research in Latin American universities, and technological innovations in companies.

Workshop participants plan to continue their discussions next year in Colombia.

Source: Purdue University