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Exploring Scholarship Impact, Sustainable Development, Institutional Partnerships, and Global Health at "Academics 4 Impact"

Lima, Peru - 27-28 May 2024: During "Academics 4 Impact," a two-day event co-organised by ITM, VLIR-UOS, and ARES, and hosted by the Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humboldt (IMTAvH) at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, we celebrated the transformative power of our collaborative efforts in higher education and science.

Day 1 - 27 May 2024

Alumni Session - Impact of Scholarships

We began the first session of the event on an inspiring note, inviting alumni from ITM, ARES, and VLIR-UOS programmes in the Andean region to shed their light on the impact of scholarships, to celebrate their contributions to sustainable development, and to showcase the impact of scholarships and educational programmes on professional development.

We were honoured to welcome ICP Connect alumna Susan Paredes (Currently member UNAP, and member and Phd student of TEAM-project) as a presenter during this session. Ms Paredes studied the ICP Connect Master of Epidemiology at the University of Antwerp.

Watch her testimonial here: 

Marcela Losantos
(UCB & VUB PhD), Paul Herrera (ESPOL and UGhent PhD) and Fabian Leon Tamariz (UCuenca, and Phd KU Leuven) also joined us as co-panelists and participants in the alumni discussions. 

Dionicia B. Gamboa Vilela, an ITM alumna from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru, stated, “We could be the voice of the Belgian cooperation through South-South cooperation”, emphasising the need for more coordination to amplify future impact.


Day 2 - 28 May 2024

Day two of the "Academics 4 Impact" event was organised around a number of thematic discussions, led by experts in the field, to highlight our shared commitment to progress and the potential for positive change through collaboration.

The different themes that were chosen were sustainable development, institutional partnerships, and global health.

Thematic Session 1 - Sustainable Development

During this first thematic session of day 2, we reflected on the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the academic community. For VLIR-UOS, the principles Interconnectedness, Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships, and Leave No One Behind are important throughout the entirety of our operations.

For VLIR-UOS, Marcela Losantos Velasco (Universidad Catholica Boliviana, La Paz) joined the group of presenters and panellist to share her experience and expertise.

The session continued with a reflective desicussion about the main opportunities and constraints for academic cooperation to support the SDGs in the region. Other topics of the session included strategies for gender-inclusive interventions and the importance of inclusive knowledge management with local communities.

Watch the recording of this session here.

Thematic Session 2 - Institutional Partnerships

The second session of the day was near to our heart, as 'Institutional Partnerships' was the main focus of this discussion. A few examples of long-term institutional partnerships between Belgian and Andean HEIs were showcased, after which the presenters and panellists discussed the joint opportunities and challenges these types of partnerships can bring.

For VLIR-UOS, Paul Herrera (ESPOL, Ecuador), supported by Fabian Leon Tamariz (former IUC coordinator UCuenca, UCuenca Dean, former team member Network biodiscovery and natural sciences) took part of the discussion as presenters/panellists.

With our eye on the future, the closing discussion tackled the evolution of partnerships over time, with important topics such as including equity, mutual benefits, and capacity strengthening approaches.

Watch the recording of this session here.

Thematic Session 3 - Global Health

The final session of the second event day was centered around discussing the joint opportunities and challenges of scientific support and collaboration in the field of Global Health, with a focus on infectious diseases.

For VLIR-UOS, the group of presenters/panellists was joined by Viviana Pinedo (promotor TEAM project CeroMalaria and LAura 2.0 with Universidad de la Amazonia Peruana), complemented by PhD Student Susan Paredes.

The session took a closer look at the role of international cooperation in addressing health challenges in the Andean region, at synergies or opportunities that could be developed between international stakeholders and ITM, VLIR-UOS, and ARES projects, and recommendations for future academic partnerships between Andean institutions and Belgian institutions in the field of global health.

Watch the recording of this session here.

Turning Aspirations into Reality through Collaboration

The discussions and insights shared during these sessions highlighted the collaborative efforts and commitment to addressing regional challenges through academic partnerships. By leveraging our networks and expertise, we aim to contribute significantly to the achievement of SDGs, fostering sustainable development and positive societal change.

Funded by the Belgian Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD), our operations are part of a wider collaboration with ITM and ARES; the thematic Join strategic Framework on Higher Education and Science for Sustainable Development.

Our shared goal is to enhance access to and exchange information on academic and scientific expertise beyond themes, disciplines, sectors, and geographic boundaries. We aspire to be the main gateway for other Belgian actors of non-governmental cooperation, governments, bilateral or multilateral actors, private companies, or civil society organisations.

To further play the role of being a gateway, we have developed a joint website where we can pool together the available expertise within Belgian HE&SIs.

Check it out here!

Looking Forward

Academics 4 Impact underscored the importance of continued collaboration and coordination to maximise the positive impacts of international academic cooperation. The connections and insights gained during this event will drive future achievements and reinforce our commitment to sustainable development and global health.

By prioritising inclusivity in our partnerships, we aim to build a more just and equitable global academic community, challenging historical power imbalances and amplifying marginalised voices. Together with our partners, VLIR-UOS is committed to fostering a brighter future. Our collaborative efforts are not only addressing today's challenges but also laying the foundations for sustained progress and inspiring the next generation of global changemakers.

Stay Connected!

For more updates on our initiatives and collaborations, follow us on social media and visit our website regularly.