Achievements and challenges of scientific networking

Since some years ago, scientists made notice their discomfort with the “the tyranny of competitiveness”, a logic that focus on producing publishable material (papers) at high speed, damaging the main purpose of doing science,  that is the science outreach to the society. To reverse this logic depends not only on the individual action of critical researchers of the system, but also on the determined commitment of the 18 state universities that, in a network, have promoted and strengthened a work with territorial relevance and at the service of society.

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Chilean researchers have put into discussion the hegemony of the prevailing economic perspective in the country, proposing alternatives that put the common good over economic growth (also called Free Science or curiosity) or, promoting science at the service of a more educated citizens with inclusion and equity valuing the diversity and wealth present in our country.

The debate shows that there is a growing concern among Chilean scientists about the sense of what they are doing and their impact on collective well-being.

Chilean researchers have put into discussion the hegemony of the prevailing economic perspective in the country, proposing alternatives that put the common good over economic growth (also called Free Science or curiosity) or, promoting science at the service of a more educated citizens with inclusion and equity valuing the diversity and wealth present in our country.

Whatever the critical stance, the debate shows that there is a growing concern among Chilean scientists about the social impact of their research.

Recovering the public interest of science

One of the first challenges of networking, was precisely to evaluate the research capabilities that the State Universities could offer to the country, and analyze the needs and demands of Chilean society.

In order to fulfill this objective, the Research Network made in 2017 the first collective evaluation of scientific productivity, this allowed to obtain strong statistical data on the need to strengthen policies to promote associativity among researchers from state universities.

Based on these findings, 6 working groups were launched: Energy, Mining, Education, Healthy Aging, Sustainability and Diversity, Interculturality and Inclusion, each of them have methodologies characterized by consensus, collaboration and interdiscipline are implemented, that respond to the needs of regional and national development.

Thanks to this, collaboration networks have been built, facilitating geographic spaces for specific research, generating agreements for shared access to laboratories and linking researchers throughout the country.

More recently, and as a result of the increase in trust, the creation of consortium postgraduates has been approved, thatwill enrich the cloisters of different universities.

Healthy Aging: Food, biology, physical activity and social determinants

The aging of the population is a worldwide phenomenon from which Chile is not exempt. According to the report “World Population Outlook 2019” prepared by the UN, in the next two decades our country will go from a rate of 17.9 to 33.5 people 65 years of age and older for every 100,000 inhabitants of active age.

Work in this area is an example of the impact that research can have on society, since improvements in the population’s life expectancy must be accompanied by a quality of life that allows it to face that period in the best possible conditions. .

State universities play a key role in understanding the phenomenon and finding answers. Networking in this area has allowed multiple studies to be carried out together.

Sustainability: Projects and joint papers

Moments of social emergency and climate crisis such as those we are experiencing, have made the importance of sustainability unquestionable as the ability of a society to make responsible use of its resources, without depleting them or exceeding their capacity for renewal.

The Sustainability Board – composed of 140 researchers – has worked on the formulation of research projects, of which three already have external financing.

The joint formulation process has facilitated the internalization and assessment of the state seal of scientific research in the field of sustainability, while favoring the production of co-authored papers.

Mining: Metallurgy, Mining Engineering and Recovery of Elements of Value from Mineral Waste

Mining, as a productive sector, is of vital importance for national development, since it generates more than 50% of the country’s exports.

The work of the Bureau, has mainly focused on collecting and systematizing the information generating a Database with the main strengths of the attached Universities.

Along with this, three lines of research were formed, through which various advances have been obtained, such as the 4 papers issued by the Metallurgy nucleus contributing to the optimization of water use in mining processes.

Energy: Energy poverty, electricity distribution and renewable energy

Research in energy matters is essential for the optimization of the country’s resources and that is why this table has formed three research nuclei, diagnosing the institutional capacities of state universities and the needs of the different territories where they operate.

Thus, the table built a cadastre of academics and academics linked to energy research. The next step was to generate collaboration protocols between the different existing academic programs, in order to collaborate between the state universities, sharing best practices in the field of human capital formation, infrastructure and equipment.

Diversity, Multiculturalism and Inclusion:

The members of this table have proposed to work so that these issues are part of the training of undergraduate students of state universities and at the same time incorporate them into research.

With both objectives in mind, they launched the first Diversity and Inclusion Survey among state universities, carried out in 2018. Their results confirm the commitment of state universities with values ​​such as freedom, equity, inclusion and respect for diversity, values ​​that should guarantee the generation of knowledge and innovation.

Currently, we are working on the reformulation of postgraduate degrees in inclusion that will be carried out collaboratively and in the publication of scientific articles in network co-authorship on diversity, multiculturalism and inclusion.

Education

Education and work, Relevance of Research in Initial Teacher Training, Disciplinary Didactics and Learning and Educational Policies from critical perspectives.

This table brings together about 90 academics and academics, whose meeting point is the most direct and dialogic research work of the academy with schools, focusing on critical approaches and alternative proposals.

Each of the nuclei seeks to contribute to a work that reverses the logic of competence in national research, focusing on collaborative work, mutual strengthening (with special emphasis on regional decentralization) and on issues relevant to the country.

Recently, many of their researchers signed a public declaration in which they propose constitutional changes and education policies, in a sense that eliminates the market logic of the current system, and that conveys horizontally to reformulate a country project in this area.

Source: Network of Chilean State Universities / https://www.uestatales.cl/cue/?q=node/6568

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