Engagement with Civil Society – experience from Latin America

First-hand perspectives from Latin America

  • Date: 06 DECEMBER 2023  from 15:00 to 16:30

  • Event location: Online event

  • Type: Special Events

The Magna Charta Observatory in association with the Global Cooperation for the Democratic Mission of Higher Education* are pleased to present this webinar


The Magna Charta Universitatum 2020 declares

‘Universities have a civic role and responsibility. They are part of global, collegial networks of scientific enquiry and scholarship, building on shared bodies of knowledge and contributing to their further development. They also are embedded in local cultures and crucially relevant to their future and enrichment. While they are immersed in and connected with global developments, they engage fully with and assume leading roles in local communities and ecosystems.’

Latin America is currently witnessing a resurgence of interest in the different ways that higher education institutions can contribute to democratic development through stronger engagement with civil society. The ‘university extension’ movement dating back to the early 1900s is going through a revival that is contributing to the democratic mission of the university. It takes different forms and has different names – extension, engagement, linkages, solidarity service learning, participatory action research, social responsibility, etc – but they all share a common purpose, namely, to place the traditional teaching and research functions of the university within the overall context of the community and society in which it operates.


The purpose of this webinar is to share first-hand perspectives from Latin American countries so that the experience of Latin America can become part of the global conversation around the democratic mission of the university and the way it may best engage with its local community and civil society.


The webinar will be moderated by Ronaldo Munck, head of civic engagement at Dublin City University in Ireland and co-editor (with Yadira Pinilla, Rita Hodges and Catherine Bartch) of Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: Civic engagement and the democratic mission.


Confirmed speakers include


Marcelo Knobel, Rector of the University of Campinas, São Paulo  from 2017 – 2021, where he had previously served in other roles; member of the Governing Council of the Magna Charta Observatory and chair of its Admissions Committee and an elected member of the Council of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science. He is a full professor of Physics.



María Rosa Tapia Coordinator of Higher Education and Service Learning in the Catholic Higher Educations Programme, Uniservitate; founding member of the Latin American Centre of Solidarity Service-Learning since 2002 and coordinator of the Youth Volunteer Programme for the Americas’ Distance Education Courses and the Solidarity Schools Support Programme.


Rita Hodges Executive Secretary of the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility and Democracy and Associate Director of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania.


Agustín Cano Menoni Professor at Universidad de la República (Udelar), Uruguay.

Ronaldo Munck Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Engaged Research at Dublin City University and former member of the Council of Europe Task Force on The Local Democratic Mission of Higher Education.



Presentations will include perspectives from Brazil and Argentina and a commentary from the North American and wider perspectives.


Admission is free of charge


This webinar is one of a series leading to the MCO’s 2024 Anniversary Conference which will be held in Washington DC in the Autumn


The Book Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: Civic engagement and the democratic mission, based on an online conference held in February 2022 is available open access here.



*The Global Cooperation for the Democratic Mission of Higher Education is comprised of four pillar organizations: the Council of Europe; the International Association of Universities (IAU); the International Consortium for Higher Education, Civic Responsibility, and Democracy; and the Organization of American States (OAS). The Magna Charta Observatory is also a member of the International Consortium.