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Latin America

Working Group

Chair: Mara Constantinescu

Mara Constantinescu is Coordinator for Latin America at Leiden University. Professionally qualified in International Relations, her research interest lies on higher education policy in Latin America and knowledge production in cooperation with Latin America. She has obtained a MA Suma cum Laude in Latin American Studies from Leiden University. She is currently overseeing research and education collaborative projects with Latin American partners and represents Leiden University in Leiden-Delft-Erasmus consortium initiative on cooperation with the Global South.

Vice Chair: Soledad Garcia Ferrari

Dr Soledad Garcia Ferrari is a Senior Lecturer at ESALA University of Edinburgh. Professionally qualified in Architecture and Urbanism in Uruguay, her research focuses on current processes of urban development and regeneration in Latin America and Europe. She was awarded her PhD in Urban Studies in 2007 at the School of the Built Environment Heriot-Watt University. Soledad has extensive expertise on research in recent planning strategies in Medellin and is currently leading Medellin Urban Innovation project awarded by British Council. She taught in the Faculty of Architecture in Montevideo, the University of Seville and was invited speaker to the School of Architecture, CEU in Madrid. She is currently University of Edinburgh Dean Latin America and Director of Edinburgh University Centre for Contemporary Latin American Studies.

Focus of Working Group

The Latin America Working Group aims to promote a space for scholarly exchange and interaction between Latin American Universities and Universities in the Coimbra Group, through which to ensure collaborative action takes place, that is impactful in both regions. Research, policy development and knowledge exchange, and knowledge diplomacy, should be rooted in understanding local and national priorities within Latin America, as well as strengths and benefits of collaboration in both regions, in order to implement long-term, sustainable partnerships.

Collaboration for academic advancement, knowledge dialogue and research development between European universities and Latin American institutions have a long tradition. The Coimbra Group has played an important role in providing links to institutions and networks which are relevant to this cooperation and has also in the past facilitated many initiatives and projects to the benefit of member institutions. Aimed to increasing knowledge of the opportunities and challenges in both regions, the Latin America Working Group will pursue a jointly agreed set of shared goals and synergies among Coimbra Group Universities, in order to increase the quality and quantity of academic cooperation with Latin American institutions, networks and agencies. With this perspective the LA WG will follow the numerous opportunities created by ongoing high level policy dialogues between the two regions. It is essential to understand the Latin American context from a ‘global’ perspective and define the role of Latin American experiences in tackling global challenges. 

A key priority for the LA WG has been to reinforce and develop cooperation with networks in Latin America, such as AUGM, CLACSO, UDUAL, among others, with an approach that is based on building trust through activities promoting knowledge exchange and development. These include: research round tables, leading to joint research proposals; jointly created enhancement programmes and shared capacities around themes of mutual interest; mobility and exchange opportunities; as well as joint activities aimed to generate interaction at postgraduate level.

Contributing to the achievement of the above aims, the LA WG has focused on engagement with a range of institutions and organisations across Europe and Latin America (e.g. EU-LAC, EU Directorate for Research and Innovation, CLACSO, UNESCO, etc.) to support policy and practice discussions, contributing to plans and actions that are inclusive of Latin American higher education cultures and expertise, including research, teaching and professional services.

Priorities for 2023-2026

  • To disseminate the collaborative work showcased by the book “Why Latin America Matters” as a platform for discussion and interaction on the role of the region in future global development and explore the context and partnership that can lead a second edition. A follow up edition, this time from a Latin American perspective, (Why Europe Matters?), is being conceptualized and will appear in print late 2024/early 2025.
  • To enable a platform for exchange with Asociación Universidades Grupo Montevideo (AUGM) in the context of a renewed MOU with CG, in order to develop a concrete plan of action for future research collaboration across the two networks.
  • To engage with EU and Latin America-based institutions and political representatives in both regions to contribute to policy development that promotes sustainability and socio-economic inclusion in Latin America and that enables a reflection over the role of Latin America in global politics and sustainable development.
  • To explore the results of a mapping exercise, which showcases ongoing activities and priorities for future collaboration with Latin America (and the Global South), across CG Universities to inform actions and outcomes for collaboration across research, knowledge exchange and teaching (in collaboration with the CG Development and Cooperation WG).
  • Explore funding opportunities across EU programmes (ERASMUS, Horizon, etc.) as well as Latin America-focused funding bodies (UNESCO, World Bank, etc.), to support collaboration across research and education.

Recent highlights

  • The completion of the book “Why Latin America Matters”, which provides a contemporary perspective on Latin America as a continent that can make a meaningful contribution to the complex challenges that humanity faces in this new decade: climate change, health crises, inequalities, migration and more.
  • Presentation of the book in a workshop focused on the themes and impact of the book in the 2022 CLACSO conference in Mexico City (June 2022).
  • In collaboration with AUGM (Association of Universities Grupo Montevideo), the LA WG hosted a high-level workshop in Montevideo in December 2022, which generated opportunities for exchange between the two networks and contributed to developing a shared set of goals for future collaboration.
  • Data set of CG LA WG member universities in relation to their involvement in EU Alliances in order to identify possible collaboration patterns that respond to the interests of each member and their ongoing commitments.
  • Participation at the EU-LAC International Foundation Knowledge Forum, which took place in Montevideo in April 2023, where the LAWG contributed to the agenda for bi-regional cooperation, to be presented at the Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held in July 2023 in the field of access to knowledge, higher education, and science, technology, and innovation.

Ongoing/forthcoming activities

2023 – 2024

  • Continue to disseminate the messages showcased by the publication Why Latin America Matters at conferences, events, etc. In addition, during 2024, the LA WG will launch a second edition of the book, in collaboration with partner networks.
  • A CG-AUGM Plan of Action will be produced and shared at the CG General Assembly in May 2023.
  • Continue to engage with EU-LAC and the FAP ALC-UE network, through participation at key events and collaboration in the development of concept notes and supporting documentation for international organisations and governments in both regions.
  • The LA WG is leading the development of an initial Latin America Briefing document which will support a more comprehensive understanding of the region across CG Universities and the identification of opportunities for collaboration. It is the intention of the group to continue developing similar briefings as follow up to the Spanish presidency of the Council of the European Union.
  • Cooperate in an international, interdisciplinary and multi-actor conference currently being organised by the University of Bergen for September 2023, which will engage key actors from both regions in a knowledge dialogue focused on overarching challenges.

2024 – 2025

  • Develop a funding application, in either education or research, under the framework of any European Commission programs (e.g. Erasmus+, Horizon etc.).
  • Explore the possibility of organizing a second high-level event with significant academic input and the broad participation of private and public stakeholders aiming to co-create a joint agenda for collaboration.
  • Publication ‘Why Latin America Matters’ volume II in collaboration with CLACSO.
  • Joint (potentially with CLACSO) academic seminar in LAC (Colombia/Ecuador) on selected common/cross cutting challenges for LAC and Europe.
  • Foster ties, and explore possibilities for formal cooperation agreements, with central European actors in LAC such as Fundación Carolina, DAAD, SEGIB, CALAS and others.

2025 – 2026

  • Organize a conference in cooperation with CG universities in Spain.
  • Coordinate the consolidation of list of publications in leading scholarly journals by academics at CG universities (2020-2025), and in particular joint publications between academics at CG universities and universities in LAC, showcasing the intensity of cooperation between the two regions.

        Contact person at the CG Office: Catarina Moleiro (moleiro@coimbra-group.eu)