Commitment to society and the environment
Universidad Veracruzana: Committed to society and sustainability
The Universidad Veracruzana (UV) has an important role in promoting sustainable development. The linkage with social sectors is an ethical obligation and favours both academic functions and welfare at a local, regional and global level.
The Universidad Veracruzana (UV), established in 5 campuses in the state of Veracruz, is the main public higher education institution in the state.
Veracruz stretches along the Gulf of Mexico and has a population of over 7,600,000 inhabitants, predominantly young people. The state has a vast natural and cultural diversity. Two-thirds of the population lives in medium-sized cities, and the rest is scattered in rural towns that are difficult to reach and lack basic services. The 10% of the population is indigenous people and live in communities with low levels in human development, but high levels in unemployment, malnutrition, illiteracy, insecurity and migration.
Despite efforts to improve the population’s condition, it’s still required human capital, inversions and infrastructure that achieve the equity of the entity.
Given the context in which it is located, the UV considers necessary:
- To contribute to the construction of a knowledge society more equal and linked to the needs of our country;
- To support the generation, appropriation and use of knowledge for sustainability;
- To transform the creation and transference of knowledge into a tool for society to benefit itself.
The UV has boosted outreach activities with the most vulnerable productive, public and social sectors of the state. In recent years, the UV has implemented programs that serve small and medium-sized businesses for regional development; it has provided indigenous students with higher education through the creation of the Intercultural Universidad Veracruzana (UVI) www.uv.com/uvi. It has promoted sustainable development and environmentally sound practices for urban and rural areas through its Programs of Productive Diversification www.uv.com/diprouv, Metropolitan Observatories and a Master Plan for sustainability www.uv.com/sustentabilidad.
Thereby, the UV welcomes the population of Veracruz, offering cultural, artistic, sports and recreation free programs to the population in general. The ecologic and sports campus, modern libraries and varied cultural artistic offer are shared with all the population of Veracruz. The university library, through the publishing house of the UV, offers to the public fundamental books of global culture at a very low cost and some others are given to the incoming students.
The UV contributes to reinforce the social fabric of the rural and urban communities that in recent years have been affected by natural disasters, accidents by environmental pollution, economic crisis, violence and the inefficiency of the institutions to guarantee the human security and social justice.
The UV hosts 32 research centers and technology labs in several fields including nanotechnology, Socio-historical, Anthropology, Arts, Neuroethology, Tropical Research, Ecology and fisheries, Public Health, Biomedical, Medical Plants, Climate Change, Culture and Communication. Besides, in the field of outreach and sustainability, it has a University Outreach Department and a University Coordination for Sustainability.
The UV seeks to educate socially responsible teenagers with abilities and professional competencies that makes them being successful in a competitive world. In the UV, the changing processes brought the creation of extra-curricular designs gifted with the quality and flexibility criteria that currently requires the education. The educational practice has looked for a greater interaction among the necessities of the environment and the studies. The UV believes that to promote the knowledge between researchers, students and graduates must face the problems of regions and specific communities.
The Social outreach in the UV:
The Social outreach programs of the UV, through each one of the programs of their five academic areas, has the objective of contributing to the sustainable development of the marginalized communities of the state of Veracruz, through the multidisciplinary groups of students, academics and researchers that allows the articulation of the substantive functions to the social problems.
In 1993, the UV creates a program called Community Outreach Multidisciplinary Teams which was an innovative approach to the compulsory social service that Mexican students must finish before graduating, where UV students make a social work in the rural, urban and the poorest indigenous communities of the state of Veracruz.
The UV Volunteer Service
The UV volunteer Service has promoted sustainability development in the neighboring communities to the University Houses since 2006 through interdisciplinary projects focusing on:
- Strengthening family economies and gender equality;
- Culture, arts and sports management;
- Environmental preservation and health promotion.
The purpose of the project to strengthen family economy and gender equality is to provide women with opportunities to organize sustainability productive projects. The program supports women designing projects and activities that enable them to diversify their productive strategies, fostering the creation and consolidation of organizations and businesses, strengthening their organizational skills, opening new commercialization opportunities for their products, promoting integral well-being and human development. By improving their family and community environment, their self-confidence and personal and social skills are then strengthened.
The activities include reading and writing workshops, entrepreneurial and handcrafting training. The products they have developed include embroidery crafts, fruit conserves and handicrafts with water hyacinth. The Voluntary workers work towards transforming the workshops into productive and sustainable businesses.
The culture, arts and sports management includes cultural activities of artistic education such as workshops in music, theater, dance and sports.
For the environmental preservation and health promotion training and information on the adequate use and responsible management of natural resources is provided, which works towards building a culture of sustainability.
The projects and actions in this area include reforestation campaigns, conservation of springs, installation of greenhouses, management and use of solid residues, recycling and instrumentation of green technology such as low burning ovens, ecological dry toilets, rainwater collection system and sanitizing waste water in order to control, reduce or eliminate contamination, favoring public health and improve quality of life.
María, Leti and Silvia are embroiderers of the “Path of Dreams” workshop at El Paisano University House:
María: “The workshop helped me a lot and motivated me to continue learning…it has been of great benefit because before we were much removed from everything and now we know how to move from our village on our own to exhibit our products…. I have learned many things, embroidery, reading and writing, and I no longer am embarrassed to speak to people”.
Leti: “I can communicate with people outside my community…before I didn’t speak at all…I live with my parents, who are elderly and no longer work…before I depended on them, but now I depend on myself for an income and I can help them….the UV has supported us a lot…we have learned how to use sewing machines”.
Silvia: “I used to live in my parents’ home doing household chores, now it’s different because we are in the workshop in the afternoons…it has helped us economically and in doing something else apart from just getting married. It feels good to do other things, such as sports.”
Lilia Hernández Guzmán participates in the backyard vegetable plot workshop at El Paisano University House:
Lilia: “They taught us how to sow at the right distances to make the most of the land and we made a family backyard vegetable plot…our family have more to eat…thinking in the future of my children and grandchildren, they now have something to work at…we know how to better invest our time to work and improve our lives because only by working you can obtain something…we want all of the community to have a backyard vegetable plot for the benefit of the community and the family”.
Marilú, Marisol and Ricardo are students in the Choir “Path of Dreams” at El Paisano University House:
Marisol: In the choir you can become someone in life and make your dream happen…for me the choir means a path to follow our dreams and if our dream is to sing, we can make this dream happen”.
Marilu: “We hope that more people know that we sing because we have gone to Xalapa to give concerts and we competed to go to Mexico City to represent our state”.
Ricardo “I like to express my feelings…we are going to record a CD…my dream is to become famous”.
Program for Productive Diversification of the Universidad Veracruzana
The University’s Program for Productive Diversification has supported the work of the UV Houses since 2006, in coordination with the Volunteer Services and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, fostering projects in:
- Organization for small producers and artisans to generate profitable businesses from natural, human and cultural resources of the community and the legal formalization of their ventures.
- Installation of backyard vegetable gardens and animal husbandry that diversify family nutrition sources to attain food sovereignty.
- Diversification of productive crops, such as coffee plantations in disuse, varying production for new markets, including cinnamon, guava leaves, ornate flowers, fruits and pepper.
- Reforestation, environmental protection and the elaboration of community geographical information systems.
- Constitution of a Validation and Technological Transference Group of Dairy Farmers to foster the rational use of dairy farming.
The social impact is evident in the improvement of quality of life in the benefitted population; women artisans have developed new products to sell and have received grants and government support to improve their projects; children have improved their learning outcomes and receive musical and artistic education; and the entire community carries out environmentally sound practices to conserve their surroundings.
UV’s Intercultural University (UVI)
UV’s Intercultural University (UVI), created in 2005, is situated in 4 rural areas: Totonacapan, Huasteca, Grandes Montañas and Selvas. The UVI was created in response to a longstanding debt it had with the 10% of the state population regarding higher education. The UVI took on the challenge to extend educational horizons and opportunities in higher education to marginalised indigenous communities, offering:
- A Degree Program in Intercultural Management, focused on an integral and flexible educational model;
- Faculty from diverse fields to work with local issues in an interdisciplinary manner;
- Regional Consultation Councils to orient the students’ work experience modules;
- A Masters Program in Intercultural Education to prepare professional leaders and networks to develop a quality educational model, sensitive to the conditions and needs of contemporary societies, where equal opportunities, the right to be different and importance for diversity constitute the essence of all innovative educational initiatives.
The experience attained at Intercultural University is significant and has gained the attention of international universities such as Texas at Austin, given that the graduates are strengthening the cultural and linguistic identity of their regions, contributing to sustainable development and creating opportunities for development for graduates in these regions.
UV’s Sustainability Program
UV’s Sustainability Program is one of the most recent noteworthy examples of the university’s responsibility and role in contributing to the creation of a sustainable society. Sustainability is a concept, from the university point of view, that implies equity, democracy, dignity, justice, education, sound management of biotic resources and a high level of environmental rationale. A university without a vision of sustainability is a vulnerable institution. This integral program:
- Promotes and operates coordinated strategies to prevent, resolve and reduce environmental impact, both within and beyond the university campuses.
- Involves academic innovation and research into the problems obstructing local and national sustainable development.
- Incorporates environmental related modules in all degree programs, and a series of integrated policies, processes, and monitoring are included in this program.
The Inter-American Organization of Higher Education (IOHE), called to the signing of the “Declaration of the Americas for Sustainability by and from the Universities”, in April 2011, signed by 44 universities of 15 American countries. It was initially generated by UV and later presented and promoted by this international organization. It is based on three core strategies:
- The implementation of a university system of environmental management;
- Communication, participation and education for all of the community;
The integration of an environmental dimension in research and professional training, as well as in undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs.