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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 interaction between Latin American Universities and Universities in the Coimbra Group, through which to ensure collaborative action takes place. Research, policy development and knowledge exchange 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 exchange 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 needs and challenges in both regions, Latin America Working Group will pursue the development of synergies among Coimbra Group Universities in order to increase the quality and quantity of cooperation with Latin American institutions, networks and agencies and follow the opportunities created by ongoing high level policy dialogues between the two regions. We find 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 LAWG has been to reinforce and develop cooperation with networks in Latin America, such as UDUAL, AUGM and CGBU, with an approach that is based on developing trust through activities promoting knowledge exchange and development. These include: research round tables, leading to joint research proposals; jointly developed capacity building programmes around themes of mutual interest; mobility and exchange opportunities; as well as joint activities aimed to generate interaction at postgraduate level.

To achieve the above aims, the LAWG has focus 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 2022-2025

  • 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.
  • Enable a platform for exchange with AUGM in the context of a renewed MOU with CG, in order to develop a concrete plan of action for future collaboration across the two networks.
  • Continue to engage with EU and Latin America-based institutions 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 development.
  • Map 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 teaching.

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 across a range of for a and forthcoming workshop focused on the themes and impact of the book in the 2022 CLACSO conference in Mexico City (June 2022)
  • Initial exploration of CG LAWG 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.
  • Preparation of a concept note and agenda for a ‘high-level’ meeting between CG and AUGM.

Ongoing/forthcoming activities

2022 – 2023

  • Participation in CLACSO promoting “Why Latin America Matters” book (June 2022) / Meetings with EU-based research institutions (e.g. EU Directorate for Research and Innovation) (September 2022) / General dissemination activities led by LAWG members (June 2022 – December 2022)
  • Exploration of members priorities across the LAWG in relation to the added value of the CG network, particularly in the context of EUAs, through a series of focused workshops (September-November 2022).
  • Completion of the Latin America / Global South priorities mapping project (October -November 2022).
  • High-level meeting with AUGM and agreement on future action plan  (December 2022).
  • Application for funding for research / teaching collaboration (with a selection of universities in CG and in Latin America).

2023 – 2025

  • Implementation CG-AUGM (2023-2025) through a range of specific activities (LAWG hosts) e.g. summer schools, thematic events, capacity building for academic and professional services staff, etc. Specific focus will be given to early career academics as key target group.
  • Second edition of the book “Why Latin America Matters” (early 2024).
  • Continue to promote collaboration around thematic clusters of strength across LAWG universities, as areas of common interest for developing research, knowledge exchange and mobility projects. (throughout 2023).

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