What are the social, political and market forces shaping Latin American HEIs and what is their role in the reproduction, or possibly the reduction, of inequalities and exclusions? The panel includes papers on issues of quality, class inequality, interculturality and affirmative action.
Higher education institutions (HEIs) have been fundamental for the building and development of Latin American nations. The university in particular has served as a crucial institution for the modernization, democratization and political mobilization of society. In this manner, especially towards the second half of twentieth century, the irruption of emergent social groups and classes into social and political power has been mediated by higher education. But at the same time, the university has also been an instrument of the state for the ongoing construction of a mono-cultural 'mestizo' nation, in which indigenous peoples and knowledge are diluted. In the wake of new relations of production, based on the intensive use of knowledge, new demands for access, quality, social mobility and cultural recognition have entailed transformations of HEIs in terms of massification, privatization and organizational differentiation. Universities are today somewhat fractured by the tension between delivering academic excellence - measured by world rankings that confine them to a peripheral position - and producing social inclusion - in terms of providing recognition and effectiveness to the social groups that are increasingly incorporated into Higher Education. What are the social, political and market forces shaping Latin American HEIs and what is their role in the reproduction, or possibly the reduction, of inequalities and exclusions and also in the recognition of cultural diversity? The panel includes papers on issues of quality, class inequality, interculturality and affirmative action, for the cases of Brazil, Chile and México.