Learning Goals

The goals of the educational program in Santiago, Chile are:

  1. To examine the international, regional and national influences shaping higher education in a global south country,
  2. To understand the historical and contemporary role of organized student action in national socio-political and educational change processes,
  3. To analyze the cultural embeddedness of higher education policies and practices, and
  4. To develop professional connections between higher education practitioners and researchers in Chile and the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education.

II. Activities in Chile associated with each of these goals will include:

(1) Discussions with Chileans and U.S. citizens working in Chile regarding the challenges emanating from global (e.g., technology), regional (e.g., regional integration) and national factors (e.g., levels of economic and human capital) that affect higher education in this developing country. We will talk with Denis Saint-Jean, Director of the human capital division of Conicyt (Chile’s equivalent of NSF in the U.S.), Antonio Campaña, Director of the Fulbright-Chile Commission, and American faculty and students who are currently Fulbright Fellows in Chile. Topics to be considered include national strategies to strengthen education, stem the brain drain to the global north, and increase the country’s human capital.

Attending lectures by Dr. Alejandre Mizala (Director) and her colleagues from the Advance Center for Educational Research, Universidad de Chile. They will provide an overview of the Chilean education system from the perspective of researchers who study educational policy and teaching and learning.

(2) Conversing with past and present student leaders about issues that have been at the center of student activism, government and university responses to student activism during different historical periods, and the impact of student organizations on the country. Visiting emblematic buildings at the Universidad de Chile, such as the Casa Central (the President’s Office building) that are the traditional sites of intense student activity, observing activities that are underway, and talking with current student union members (FECH) at the Universidad de Chile.

(3) Participants will engage in journaling (written and visual), and regular debriefing sessions will be scheduled to discuss questions, observations and insights into the global, regional and national influences shaping higher education in Chile. Time will also be devoted to abstracting and developing propositions to explain similarities in Chilean and U.S. higher education as well as the “cultural particularities”.  Journaling will be based on observations and insights gained from visits to higher education institutions that vary in age and mission. Campuses have been selected to include some of the newly established campuses that are struggling to grow and establish their identities and older, established ones that are altering traditional practices in light of new missions that emphasize access and diversity. Among the campuses are: Universidad Diego Portales – a private (non-religious) teaching institution that seeks to enhance its standing in research (established in 1982); Universidad Alberto Hurtado – private (Jesuit) teaching institution (established in1997); Universidad de Chile – public research university (established in 1842); and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile – a private research university affiliated with the Catholic Church (established in 1888). On each campus, we will tour with faculty and students from that institution, learn about its history and contemporary challenges, observe classes and discuss issues of mutual interest.

Some of the key people we will meet on these campuses are:

  • José Joaquín Brunner, Director of the first Chilean PhD program in higher education. This is a joint doctoral program between the UDP and Leiden University, Netherlands. Dr. Brunner does research on accountability, accreditation and governance and is recognized as a national leader in educational policy matters.
  • Fernando Verdugo s.j. Provost of Integration at Universidad Alberto Hurtado,
  • Andrés Bernasconi, faculty member, Center for Comparative Education at the School of Education, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. His main area of research is higher education, especially faculty work, organizational studies, and public policy. Dr. Bernasconi has served as an administrator in several Chilean universities.
  • Alejandra Mizala, Chair of the Industrial Engineering Department and Director of the Advance Center for Educational Research. She does research on labor economics, educational access and public policy and will serve as our contact at the Universidad de Chile.

Visits to historical sites and cultural activities are also planned. Examples are:

Palacio de la Moneda (Presidential Palace). This palace is at the center of the civic neighborhood in Santiago Downtown. It was opened on 1805 and since 1846 has served as the seat of the president. This palace was at the center of the military coup in 1973, when it was partially destroyed by aerial bombing. Salvador Allende died in the palace when the building was under military attack. Today, there are many symbols that commemorate that tragic moment in Chilean history, and the building is open to the public. Underneath the palace there is a new cultural center that shows many dimensions of the Chilean culture.

Museo de la Memoria (Museum of Memory and Human Rights). This impressive museum was opened on 2010 and is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the human rights violations occurred during the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990). The museum is not only impressive because of its topic and collection, but also because of its architecture and its technological interfaces with the public.

Plaza the Armas, a Spanish colonial style square at the heart of the capital, and the Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia Hill) in downtown, which includes several monuments about Santiago’s foundation and a small castle from 1820. It also offers panoramic views of the city.

Valparaíso is considered one of the most important seaport cities in the Southeast Pacific. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, especially because of its 19th-century architecture and the several hills that look like an amphitheater where the ocean is the stage.

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM). It is a large and modern cultural center in Santiago downtown opened in 2010. It was named after Gabriela Mistral (a Chilean poet, Nobel Prize of Literature in 1945). She was an elementary teacher in a poor village in the North. The GAM has numerous artistic exhibitions. 

Pablo Neruda’s houses. Neruda was a poet, also Nobel Prize of Literature in 1971 (Ode to a Lemon and the Ode to the Conger Chowder). Neruda had three main houses in Chile, where he left important artistic and cultural collections. We may visit two of his houses: La Chascona, in Santiago, and La Sebastiana, in Valparaíso.

Pueblo de Los Dominicos. This is a craft village in Las Condes, Santiago. It hosts more than 200 Chilean artisans.

Mercado Central de Santiago (Santiago Central Market). Authentic market with fresh seafood and other produce. There are many restaurants in the area.

Wine Culture. Chile is also famous because of its fine wines, and there is a whole culture associated with its production. We may attend one the many wine tastings and wine shops in Santiago or visit some of the vineyards nearby the Capital. We will be sure to enjoy the music and local cuisine with our new friends in Chile, and there will be time for program participants to pursue individual interests in small groups or by themselves.

(4) Consulting with faculty and administrators at the Universidad de Chile on issues related to the following: faculty personnel matters, and practices to support students who have been admitted in response to national policies aimed at enhancing access for low income citizens. Other consulting opportunities will be arranged based on the professional expertise of participants. This is our chance to give something back to our Chilean hosts as well as an opportunity to form professional linkages.

One afternoon will be a research seminar with faculty and students from the Universidad de Chile and the University of Michigan presenting and discussing their research with an eye to developing future collaborations.

 III.  Local Arrangements:

We will reside in a hotel in the Bellas Artes neighborhood close to downtown Santiago. There is easy access to subway stations, and it is within walking distance of Universidad Católica Casa Central, Parque Forestal, Calle Victorino Lastarrial, Cerro Santa Lucia, and GAM Cultural Center. Meals will provide an opportunity to extend conversations with individuals we meet over the course of our visit.

IV. Pre-Departure Activities: To optimize learning in Chile, participants will engage in several pre-departure activities, including:

Briefings on Chilean history and contemporary life. At least four meetings (1-2 hours each) focused on key historical events, contemporary socio-political and educational issues/conditions, the Chilean educational system, and language/cultural protocols. Readings will be shared, and discussions will be led by members of the UM community familiar with the geopolitical region.

Preparation of research and consulting presentations. Participants will write brief abstracts of their studies and prepare their presentations. Everyone will be assigned to consulting teams organized around issues selected by our Chilean hosts. As noted above, faculty personnel matters and student support are two topics that have already been chosen. We will work with our Chilean colleagues to create additional teams based on their needs and the expertise of program participants.