J-WEL Member Feature: Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes) | MIT J-WEL

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J-WEL Member Feature: Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes)

Uniandes building

J-WEL Higher Education Member Profile: Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes)


The Universidad de los Andes, also known as Uniandes, is a medium-size (15,000 undergraduates), 70-year-old private Colombian university. According to QS World University Rankings, it is the number one university in Colombia and number five in Latin America.

Three years ago, Uniandes started a profound curricular reform effort to adapt its educational model to the most recent findings of the science of learning. Uniandes decided to join J-WEL as a member, and because its School of Engineering is about 43% of the whole university (in students and incomes), it is focusing on the curricular reform of the school.

The driver of the reform is to increase problem-solving abilities in students by designing learning spaces in which they work in interdisciplinary groups to address challenges with real restrictions from companies, public institutions, or communities. A set of these courses will be the backbone of the curricular reform. Designing in detail these learning spaces is the core of the project proposed to J-WEL. In order to achieve this, two professors will attend the curricular design workshop next June at MIT.

In addition, Uniandes participants in past J-WEL Weeks have been inspired by many other ideas and tools, seeing that many of them could benefit most Colombian—and Caribbean—universities. This is why Uniandes, using its Cartagena site, decided to start a local network of universities to develop a learning community regarding best practices in higher education.

A first symposium was organized (March 26-27) on the relationship between research and teaching for undergraduates with Professor Hazel Sive as the keynote speaker. Twenty-five staff from 13 Caribbean (private and public) universities attended and shared their experiences, problems, and expectations. It was the first time such a gathering took place with the purpose of cooperating and learning from each other. This signifies a potential new form of cooperation between J-WEL and its members in different countries, boosting the quality of local universities by catalyzing a network of learning communities in higher education.