Higher Education and the Post-Conflict Era in Colombia: A Review of Institutional Documents

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Carmen Luz de PRETELT, Universidad Pública Abierta y a Distancia, Colombia
Chantal JONES, University of California Los Angeles, USA
Adrian HUERTA, University of California Los Angeles UCLA, USA
César AGUIRRE LEÓN, Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios, Colombia
Harold CASTILLA, Corporacion Universitaria Minuto de Dios-UNIMINUTO, Colombia
Colombia is engaged in a national effort to build and sustain peace, emerging from the longest running civil conflict in the Western hemisphere one year ago. The Ministry of National Education looks to higher education to be a vehicle through which sustained peace is developed; providing extensive, inclusive and high-quality education.

Our umbrella research agenda asks: How can Colombia’s public and private higher education institutions, faced with major financial, political and organizational challenges, fulfill the twin missions of education for all (social inclusion) and quality assurance (academic excellence) in the post-conflict era? At the center of this analysis is the Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios (UNIMINUTO), Colombia’s largest higher education institution. A Catholic institution serving approximately 130,000 students across 56 campuses, approximately 98 percent of UNIMINUTO’s population is within the lowest three socioeconomic strata, which ranges in level from one to six, and over 70 percent are women.

We are engaged in a longitudinal, mixed methods case study, of which the first step is document analysis. We present results of this analysis, a story of how UNIMINUTO creates an institutional narrative committed to social inclusion and academic excellence. Results are framed through the lens of mutual vulnerability as a humanizing pedagogical principle in post-conflict societies by Keet, Zin, and Porteus (2009), which critically engages educational contexts and centers social justice for the marginalized.

This work is an internationally collaborative effort. Results of the document analysis can inform higher education institutions across the globe faced with similar challenges of power, violence, and justice.