* This article has been edited by the Jesuit Network project.
This pandemic has made clear, among many other things, that the worse the circumstances, the more necessary it is for us to collaborate, to get involved and to build a better common home together. Despite the devastating consequences of the pandemic, this situation is undoubtedly leading to an evolution and boost of networking.
A good example of how this awareness and desire to collaborate has increased is the “SJ collaboration projects workshop – Exchange of experiences and impulses for particular collaboration projects in COVID times”, hosted by Universidad Iberoamericana Mexico City last October. The purpose was to create a space for dialogue in which participants could share the strategies that different institutions have implemented to address the COVID pandemic, and together develop ideas for bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects.
Encouraged by the possibilities of international cooperation and collaboration, leaders of 20 Jesuit universities from 13 different countries participated in the 4-day virtual gathering. Far from being a one-way communication conference in which attendees only listen, participants engaged in real cases of collaboration to launch different initiatives and provide a rapid and robust response to the effects of the pandemic.
Distinguished experts in higher education and international cooperation shared their perspectives. Francesc Pedró García, Director of UNESCO’s Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, presented his paper Back to the Future: Higher Education in the Post-Pandemic World. Also participating were Father Daniel Villanueva, SJ (Executive Vice President of Entreculturas and coordinator of the Jesuit Network project), Sylvia Schmelkes del Valle (Academic Vice President of IBERO Mexico City), Jorge Meza Aguilar (Director of Dissemination and Social Commitment of IBERO Mexico, D. F.), Graciela Teruel Belismelis (director of the Research Institute for Equitable Development – EQUIDE) and Ana María Berruecos Vila (director of Teaching and Learning Mediated by Technologies of IBERO Mexico City).
The participants collaborated in groups and addressed the 3 main topics:
- Post-COVID international mobility and new models of internationalization in Higher Education
- Academic Cooperation in research: research networks, open access resources and COVID-19 related analysis
- Virtual teaching: strengthening teaching capacities, platforms and educational models
Under the guidance of two experts in creative techniques, the teams conducted several series of structured exercises, after which they presented a final proposal for an international cooperation project and suggestions for future collaborative initiatives. The final document of the event, which includes a more detailed outline of the workshop design, the results and links to all the recordings, can be found here.
The workshop achieved an important goal: to create and strengthen the connections and opportunities for collaboration between international networks and to generate value and shared knowledge. The model followed of idea generation, group discussions and creative techniques, can be extrapolated for future events and collaborative spaces.