Laspau to hold inaugural Higher Education Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia

Laspau has announced that it will hold the inaugural Higher Education Summit of the Americas on November 16th and 17th, 2018 in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Summit will convene 100 leaders from government, business, and higher education to re-envision the role of the university in Latin America and the Caribbean to advance its relevance and impact in 21st-century society. These leaders include university presidents and vice presidents, government ministers and secretaries and business leaders from across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Through this milestone event, Laspau aims to harness the collective knowledge of leaders, bridge collaboration across government, business and higher education sectors, and articulate shared priorities for transforming higher education in the region. Over the course of two days, leaders will discuss societal challenges in relation to academic research, international trends, and system-wide practices for cultivating innovation ecosystems and knowledge-based societies.

The summit will include sessions on Reinventing the Role of the University in Latin America, The University as a Driver of Economic Growth, Innovating Education to Educate Innovators, Utilizing Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to Scale Innovation in Higher Education.

One of the Summit’s keynote speakers, Dr. Julio Frenk, the President of the University of Miami, sees the Summit as an opportunity for “sharing our strategy to become a hemispheric university by engaging with other institutions of higher learning form the region to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Over the past 50 years, Laspau has collaborated closely with governments, foundations, nonprofits and educational institutions across the Americas. The organization currently manages several longstanding scholarship programs for partners such as the Fulbright Program of the U.S. Department of State, the Organization of American States, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, among others. Additionally, over the past ten years, Laspau has helped hundreds of universities across the region to improve their quality and effectiveness by connecting them with the latest knowledge and pioneering faculty in the field through programs to strengthen teaching and learning, enhance the quality and impact of education, and promote innovation and academic leadership. The Higher Education Summit of the Americas represents the nexus of these areas of work and seeks to further strengthen and promote meaningful collaboration across higher education, business, and governments throughout the Americas.

At the conclusion of the Summit a compilation of innovative ideas, practical actions, and proposals obtained from the various sessions will be published for the good of the entire region.

Confirmed keynote speakers include:

  • Alberto Bustamante, Director of Education Industry for Latin America and the Caribbean, Microsoft
  • Edward Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering, MIT
  • María Marta Ferreyra, Senior Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, World Bank
  • Julio Frenk, President, University of Miami (View Welcome Video)
  • Harry Lewis, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University
  • Eric Mazur, Dean of Applied Physics, Harvard University
  • Richard K. Miller, President of Olin College
  • Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of Practice in International Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education (View Welcome Video)
  • Jamil Salmi, Tertiary Education Expert
  • Cecilia María Vélez, President of Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano

This event is by invitation only. Additional information can be found on the event website at

Laspau and UNISAL host the Fourth Annual STHEM Consortium Conference in Brazil

LORENA, BRAZIL, July 7, 2017- Laspau, in collaboration with the Salesian University of São Paulo (Centro Universitário Salesiano de São Paulo – UNISAL), carried out the fourth annual STHEM Consortium Program Conference on May 22-26, 2017. The event marked the start of a yearlong training on innovative trends in higher education which involved professors and academic leaders of 47 public and private universities in Brazil. This is the fourth cohort of professors and leaders to participate in the program.

Photo courtesy of STHEM Brazil

Comprised of a series of intensive workshops, the program was led by professors from universities such as Olin College, Tecnológico de Monterrey and Université du Québec à Montréal. These experts shared different teaching methodologies with Brazilian professors to improve classroom content development, assessment, and learning management.

Photo courtesy of STHEM Brazil

The STHEM Consortium was established in 2014, led by Laspau and UNISAL, with the participation of a pioneering group of public and private higher education institutions in Brazil. It works to incorporate academic innovation into participants’ institutions, and has done so with great success.

Though this is a year-long program, professors from the participating universities continue implementing changes after they complete the program, incorporating methodologies in their teaching practice that reflect student-centered learning as well as creating communities of practice in their respective universities. Participants also remain connected to a broad network of experts in this area, exposing them to a variety of approaches to teaching and learning that are geared toward producing leaders in STEM-related practice and research.

For more information on the STHEM Consortium, please read about Fabio Garcia Reis, one of the Consortium founders, or  visit the STHEM Brasil website (in Portuguese).

For more information on University Innovation programs like the STHEM Consortium, please contact our Program Manager for Academic Innovation, Colleen Silva-Hayden.

Laspau, Microsoft and U-Planner Lead Summit on Trends of High-Performing Universities

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, July 7, 2017- A new initiative led jointly by Laspau, Microsoft Corporation’s Higher Education Division and U-Planner, a Chilean entity that develops technology solutions for the education sector was launched in March. The initiative, Summit on Trends of High-Performing Universities brought together presidents and academic deans from universities across Latin America to discuss active learning and new teaching techniques, and the use of big data and advanced educational technology in their universities.

Speakers included:

  • Laspau Trustee and Ford Foundation Professor of the Practice in International Education and Director of the Global Education Innovation Initiative and of The International Education Policy Program at Harvard University, Fernando Reimers
  • Laspau Trustee and Executive Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, Ned Strong
  • Laspau Executive Director, Angélica Natera
  • Executive Director of Active Learning at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University, Anas Chalan
  • Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Associate Director of the Experimental Study Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Peter Dourmashkin
  • U-Planner Executive Director, Juan Pablo Mena
  • U-Planner Strategic Advisor, Jorge Yutronic
  • Director of Public Sector Markets (LATAM) at Microsoft, Guillermo Almada
  • President of Telefónica, Claudio Muñoz
  • CEO of Fundación Chile, Marcos Kulka
  • CEO of CORFO, Patricio Feres

The first event took place on March 22-23 at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, and subsequent events were held in Chile and Mexico. Altogether, 30 universities participated in the summit. Within the framework of this event, participants were also able to meet with members of the U-Planner to learn and exchange specific strategic goals of universities through intelligent solutions designed for higher education.

For more information on U-Planner, visit

Bringing Technology-Enhanced Active Learning to Costa Rica

Peter Dourmashkin

Peter Dourmashkin of MIT presents on higher education and society at SINAES in Costa Rica.

SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA, November 1, 2016 – Peter Dourmashkin, an MIT physicist and mathematician, founder of the Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) Lab and frequently collaborator with Laspau’s University Innovation programs recently visited Costa Rica. With Laspau’s help, Professor Dourmashkin was a featured speaker in the 8th annual meeting of the National System for Accreditation in Higher Education in Costa Rica (SINAES) to discuss higher education in the context of society. 

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New IGIP Certification for Engineering Educators is Open for Registration

Certification offers engineering educators an internationally recognized qualification in teaching methodologies for their field.

MAYAGÜEZ, PUERTO RICO, September 27, 2016 – Laspau, in collaboration with InnovaHiEd, the University of Puerto Rico and several regional and international research centers, is launching a new international certification for engineering educators in Spanish. The certification program offers an internationally recognized qualification for teaching and learning methodologies in engineering, science, math, physics and related disciplines. Participants completing the course will be able to add IGIP.Ing.Paed to their title.

The inaugural program, offered for the first time in Spanish, will launch on January 23rd, 2017 at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez Campus. The program will run over a period of six months and will include online and in-person components. More information on curriculum and registration can be found at: 

Enhancing learning in Brazil with Fabio Garcia Reis and the STHEM Consortium

Fabio Garcia Reis worked with Laspau to launch a customized University Innovation program for his institution. Reis went on to implement Peer Instruction and Active Learning in his classes at UNISAL and later helped to found the STHEM Consortium in Brazil which works to incorporate academic innovation into participants’ classrooms.

In a coffee shop near Harvard University back in 2010, Fabio Garcia Reis sat down with Boston College professor, Liz Reisberg, and Laspau Executive Director, Angélica Natera.

Reis had an idea. Fascinated by the participatory classrooms in the United States, so different from the lecture-based classrooms in his home country of Brazil, Reis wanted to bring together academic leaders from around the country to discuss and share different teaching methods.

“Math and Science are not discussed in Brazil in an effective way,” Reis explained. The professor wanted new ideas and resources to bring back home so he could enhance learning in Brazilian universities.
Laspau agreed.

“You have to participate,” Reis reminds his students on the first day of classes at UNISAL. “You are the protagonists of your own learning.”

Within a year of their coffee shop discussion, Laspau and Reis launched a customized University Innovation program.

It was during the University Innovation program that Reis met Harvard Physics and Applied Physics professor Eric Mazur. Professor Mazur introduced Reis to Peer Instruction, a teaching methodology he developed to help improve learning by encouraging discussions and interactions between students, even in large, lecture-sized classes. The professor, Mazur explained, should not be the keeper of knowledge but someone who builds and shares knowledge with students.

“This is simply not possible to apply in Brazil,” some of Reis’s colleagues told him when he began exploring how to apply the Peer Instruction and Active Learning methodologies to his classes at UNISAL – Centro Universitário Salesiano de São Paulo. “This isn’t Harvard; students and faculty are too attached to the traditional classroom structure where the professor lectures and students listen,” colleagues warned.

Their doubts were motivation enough for Reis.

After studying innovative teaching methodologies with a small group of professors for six months, Reis began to introduce the new ideas to his classroom. The results were positive. Reis noticed better engagement and improved satisfaction among his students. Others began to notice too.

“Have you ever considered forming a consortium?” Laspau Executive Director, Angélica Natera, asked Reis during a visit to Brazil.
This simple question brought about many potential complications. Consortia were not common in Brazil and even less common when trying to mix public and private institutions.

Never the type to shy away from a challenge, Reis, his fellow leaders, and Laspau launched the STHEM Consortium in March 2014. The Consortium works to incorporate academic innovation into participants’ institutions, and has done so with great success. The Consortium has been received by the Minister of Education of Brazil, who has even discussed the idea of using the Consortium’s results to help change Brazil’s educational standards.
Today, the STHEM Consortium has 35 institutional participants, impacting a total of 750 professors in 2015 alone.

“You have to participate,” Reis reminds his students on the first day of classes at UNISAL. “You are the protagonists of your own learning.”

Laspau, EDUCA and the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo open CONNECT DR program

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, November 24, 2015- Laspau and EDUCA, in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy of the United States, have inaugurated a unique program, CONNECT DR, to promote collaboration and knowledge exchange among leaders from the private sector, higher education, government and civil society.

CONNECT DR aims to foster collaboration among the private sector, higher education and government in the Dominican Republic as well as to increase exchange between the Dominican Republic and the United States. One of the long-term goals of the program is to create a sustainable ecosystem of collaboration between the private sector, the universities and the government of the Dominican Republic, in conjunction with the Embassy of the United States. This program will be centered on the implementation of President Obama’s signature education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, 100,000 Strong in the Americas, which is aimed at enhancing hemispheric competitiveness, increasing prosperity, and providing study abroad opportunities to better prepare a globally aware and culturally competent workforce.

The CONNECT DR program consists of two conferences that will feature a series of working roundtable discussions with the individual sectors as well as panel discussions. The first conference for the program was held on November 21st and 22nd, 2015 in Santo Domingo and featured prominent leaders from the private sector, government and local universities. The second conference will be held in 2016.

The partnership between Laspau and EDUCA effectively leverages the local and international of both organizations, and includes important support from the U.S. Embassy. EDUCA is serving as the local partner for the program and is ensuring the engagement of key stakeholders and decision makers in the Dominican Republic. The organization has extensive experience in the promotion of alliances between the public and private sector in education in the Dominican Republic. Laspau is serving as the international partner and facilitating the inclusion of key international experts in higher education in the discussions. Laspau has previously created contexts for successful collaboration between key stakeholders throughout the hemisphere and has access to an extensive international network of higher education experts.

First Phase of Panama STEM Education Project Comes to a Successful Close

PANAMA CITY, PANAMA, October 14, 2015- Nearly 100 professors from public and private universities have successfully completed the Panama STEM Education project. The project, which kicked off in March of 2016, aims to strengthen STEM teaching and learning in Panama through the use of student-centered learning and the creation of communities of practice in each of the 10 participating universities.

Professors benefitted from both online and in-person class sessions over the past 7 months and were required to evaluate changes in their own classrooms as a result of their learning. The program also encouraged the development of communities of practice within each institution around teaching and learning in order to foster lasting change.

The project was initiated jointly by the Association of Rectors of Panama, the Association of Private Universities of Panama and Laspau. Professor Diomedes Concepción Muñoz, Vice Rector of Research and Graduate Studies of Columbus University, led the effort along with Dr. Stanley Muschett, Rector of Universidad Interamericana de Panamá. Participating universities included Universidad de Panamá, Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí, Columbus University, Quality Leadership University, Universidad Interamericana de Panamá, Universidad Latina de Panamá, Universidad del Istmo, Universidad Santa María la Antigua, Universidad Americana and Universidad Metropolitana de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnología.

With the first phase of the project coming to a successful close, all participating institutions hope to expand the program in 2017 in order to serve more professors and ultimately, improve the learning of larger numbers of students in STEM fields in Panama.