EARTH University’s educational model is based on the generalist, holistic, humanistic, and social education of the students.
For four years, the students actively live and interact in an innovative experiential learning community focused on the acquisition of technical knowledge and soft skills for the sustainable management of agriculture and natural resources, including the development of higher-order thinking skills, ethical leadership, entrepreneurial skills, social and environmental responsibility, and the strengthening of their values and ethical decision making, teamwork, and conflict resolution.
EARTH University graduates have demonstrated the positive impact on agriculture, the rural communities, and the graduates themselves globally, inline with the needs of the 21st century as discussed during this Global Conference. This educational model through the five elements of success, provides the essential elements for transformational change that the pilot universities are executing in their learning centers, each following their own path. At the global conference “Transformational Change in Higher Education to address challenges of the 21st Century”, the four pilot universities: the Technological Institute of Higher Education of Calkiní, the Technological Institute of Higher Education of Hopelchén, the Technological Institute of Conkal, and Quisqueya University shared their experiences and successes on the third day of the conferences, highlighting the impacts of the change processes, their main changes and lessons learned as they gradually modify and innovate their own educational models and train faculty, staff, and students to support their changing roles. We share below some of the highlights:
Technological Institute of Higher Education of Calkiní
A genuine commitment to the community is perceived, fostered from social, environmental, and ethical commitment.
For this university, the main benefits that are perceived with re spect to the training and growth of the student body are mainly three:
- Ethical and participative leadership
- Interest and empathy in community affairs
- Greater involvement of students in decision-making within the community
On the other hand, the communities benefit directly by the interaction with students, faculty, and university authorities, building greater trust and cooperation and understanding, working and learning from each other including the rescue of ancestral knowledge.
In addition, the improvements in farmer’s production systems are noted, which translates into more money earned and improvement of the family economy.
Technological Institute of Higher Education of Hopelchén
Hopelchén highlights its dual work and the reciprocity and feedback of agreements between their staff, with the objective of achieving the well-being of the sustainable development of the community.
This has allowed them to build community situational diagnoses and the systematization of a community resource guide that is constantly updated.
They emphasize that “There are necessary natural resources in the countryside that help solve the problems (of society)”.
What benefits have students experienced?
- Learning and experiences of dialogical co-responsibility in the university-community relationship.
- Training as leaders with values and ethics, social awareness, and responsibility in the balance of sustainable community development.
- Proactivity to face community and university problems.
- They learn in experiential settings, rescuing ancestral knowledge and sharing new technologies.
- Mapping of entrepreneurship opportunities originating in the communities.
- Improvement of the participation and coexistence in teams.
- Improvement in their communications skills.
The university has an open-door policy, which led to a historic enrollment this year in the Engineering in Sustainable Agricultural Innovation career, with 203 new students.
Technological Institute of Conkal
With its goal of training students with ethics and value-based leadership through teaching and learning, and with its semester activities aligned with the transforming higher education project, IT Conkal encourages its students to “ponerse la camiseta” -something similar to going the extra mile-, with the promise that every student who comes to campus will be a better person and when they leave, will be an agent of change.
Among the main changes they noted are:
- Creation of a new work structure.
- Creation of an Ethics Committee.
- Transparent decision making and disclosure of all activities.
- Greater participation by students.
- International consultation forums.
- Creation of a Student Council.
- Training and development of professional soft skills.
- Policy support on crucial issues such as equity, diversification, and sustainable development.
- Comprehensive plan for the incorporation of values and ethics in the training of agricultural engineers.
And the main lessons learned:
- Gradual incorporation of all the students in different semesters into the transformed model.
- Students’ have great ability to adapt
- Initially work with proactive teachers
- Constant awareness of teachers.
- Gradual incorporation of the five key elements of success
As the only representative from Haiti in the project, UniQ has had several challenges in implementing the 5 elements of success in its agricultural and environmental sciences faculty. This has meant a 180° change, including the creation of and transformation to two new curriculums.
What are the impacts on the faculty?
- New professors/researchers have been hired to implement the new curriculum.
- A specialist in curriculum and human institutional capacity development has been hired.
- The faculty has been trained to get involved in the new dynamic, including the implementation of experiential learning as the core pedagogy.
- Experiential learning and community involvement became more present in faculty teaching.
On the other hand, the impact on students can be measured through the training they receive to become entrepreneurs, encouraging their commercial spirit with an environmental and social perspective, while strengthening their commitment and proactivity.