Jorge Calderón: ‘This cooperation moved ESPOL in a different direction’


Calderon UGent Foto Hilde Christiaens4Jorge Calderón receives a prize-medal from Paul Van Cauwenberge, vice-chancellor of UGent, for his effort in the long term partnership between the Escuela Superior Politécnica Del Litoral (ESPOL) in Ecuador and Ghent University. From 1998 to 2010 ESPOL was partner university of the Institutional University Cooperation (IUC) with UGent, KU Leuven and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Jorge Calderón, professor at ESPOL and former local coordinator of the IUC programme, testifies on the impact of the partnership.


Only the cooperation with the Flemish universities lasted


‘We were the subject of university cooperation with several countries: Sweden, France, Japan, the United States, Germany among others. But only the one with the Flemish universities lasted. What makes the difference? I think it is because it aimed to change the culture of the university system.’


It’s the long-term effort that brought this change


‘Teaching was the key element in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Just to train professionals and to train the students to perform in the industry. We were not concerned about science and research.


This IUC cooperation really moved the university in a different direction, trying to focus on knowledge generation. It’s a completely different scenario today at ESPOL than it was almost 20 years ago when the cooperation with the Flemish universities started. It’s the long-term effort, among other things, that really brought this change.’


Poverty alleviation, food security and global change are addressed through the cooperation


‘At the beginning, we weren’t really capable to face and try to solve local or global problems. But after those many years, I see that we are working on poverty alleviation, food security, global change and environmental sustainability.


All those problems are today addressed through the cooperation. But this is after many years. It cannot just be the starting point. It’s a consequence of building the capacity and the creation of networks.’


ESPOL will be the hub of the new Network


‘Now, with a second project that we are starting up with VLIR-UOS, the influence in the country will surely be more evident, because it is a network and ESPOL will be acting as the hub.’


Read more about the Network Biodev Ecuador


Pictures: UGent, Hilde Christiaens


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