On December 8 – 9 – 18 and 19, 2021, representatives of the Pilot Universities involved in the Transforming Higher Education project participated in a workshop where they shared their experiences in transforming their educational models.
They had the opportunity to present and discuss their achievements and challenges in implementing the five elements of success in their institutions, hoping to learn from each other’s experiences. Here we will reveal some of the conclusions by element of success. You can go here and examine in more detail the more relevant observations and conclusions attained from the meetings.
Community experience: All the pilot universities consider experiential learning to be the central didactic methodology of their new educational model and that it is transforming the processes and quality of student learning and training at their institutions. All of the pilot universities place the students and their learning at the center of the university activities.
Community engagement: The Universities are all implementing and/or strengthening community engagement but taking different paths. Some include applied research, community development projects, internships, management of agricultural plots, field days, technical consultancies, and volunteering, as components of their community engagement activities. These offer students the opportunity to understand and analyze reality, create networks, visualize project opportunities, critically analyze problems and design ways to solve these problems. It forces students to get out of their comfort zones and to develop and promote their leadership capacities. Students learn to understand and empathize with the issues confronting the communities that they come from.
Entrepreneurial learning: The pilot universities recognize the importance of training graduates with the ability to develop their own businesses and with an entrepreneurial mindset for the purpose of generating self-employment and community employment, developing added value throughout the value chain, and generating greater dynamism for local economies and communities. Therefore, one shared objective is the training of agricultural professionals as entrepreneurs and with an entrepreneurial mentality.
Ethical and value-based education: We must institutionalize the education of ethics and values as an integral part of the educational model of the university. To achieve this, it must be integrated systemically within the university educational experience, and it must be treated systematically across university activities. All the pilot universities recognize that training in values is the task of everyone in the institution, from gardeners, drivers, cooks, administrators, teachers and even the senior university presidents.
To summarize, the elements of success are essential to the training of “Agents of Change.” We find that they are interrelated with each other and therefore it is more efficient and effective to treat them comprehensively and not individually. The four universities are introducing each of the elements of success, while producing more committed graduates, sensitive to the problems of communities and with the ability to lead and agree on their decisions for the benefit of others.