CGHE seminar 76

Higher education and the UN's sustainable development goals: the case of the intercultural universities in Mexico

  • Thursday, 03 May 2018 12:30 - 14:00
  • Room 822, UCL Institute of Education
  • Tristan McCowan, UCL Institute of Education


In the framework of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, higher education has been given a key role in addressing societal challenges: reducing poverty, ensuring sustainable livelihoods and protecting the natural environment.

Yet there has been a singular lack of imagination as regards the institutional forms that might help support this vision.

This presentation reports on the findings of an exploratory study of the Intercultural University of Veracruz, one of a number of institutions created in Mexico to ensure access for indigenous populations, to promote local development and to provide a space for intercultural dialogue.

The findings show a number of ways in which this innovative institution provides opportunities for supporting the SDGs that go beyond conventional universities.

However, the study also presents challenges to the global framework, highlighting the lack of attention to culture, language, identity and knowledge traditions.

Finally, the presentation will reflect more broadly on the relationship between higher education and international development in the contemporary era.

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Tristan McCowan

Tristan McCowan

Dr Tristan McCowan is Reader in Education and International Development at the UCL Institute of Education. His work focuses on the areas of access to and quality of higher education, alternative and innovative universities, citizenship education and human rights, and covers a broad range of contexts, particularly in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. He is currently conducting multi-country research projects on higher education pedagogy, graduate destinations and the public good in Africa, and is also involved in research on indigenous education in the Brazilian Amazon and Mexico. He is the author of Rethinking Citizenship Education (Continuum, 2009) and Education as a Human Right (Bloomsbury, 2013), and is editor of Compare – a Journal of International and Comparative Education.

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