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viernes, 1 de diciembre 2023
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Master Class, a new UdeA strategy to contribute to global causes

By Julián David Ospina Sánchez, journalist

On September 27, the Universidad de Antioquia presented "Master Class UdeA: local talent at the service of global causes," a strategy to disseminate the institution's scope of knowledge and research related to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (ODS) and Misión de Sabios Colombia 2019’s conclusions. Experts from the university will spread their knowledge around the world through virtual classes.

Professor Julio Eduardo Cañón Barriga challenges current development models and proposes alternatives aimed at balancing human presence with the natural environment. Photo: UdeA Communications Office.

The Universidad de Antioquia ratifies its commitment to the dissemination of knowledge and international positioning with its new strategy, Master Class UdeA: local talent at the service of global causes. This is a series of virtual classes led by university experts to address crucial global issues. "Based on the academic and scientific potential of our professors, we are becoming a more visible institution that shares its knowledge on strategic topics," noted Marcela Garcés Valderrama, director of International Relations at UdeA.

The project will be launched with five Master Classes on their YouTube platform and a webspace that will be part of the university portal. This virtual scenario will be equipped with information from researchers and multiple bibliographic aids on the topics covered, in addition to the classes. "We want to reach out to the academic community as well as the general public with whom the university shares research and scientific collaborative relationships so that they are aware of what we are doing and what we are capable of," said Carlos Mario Guisao Bustamante, director of Communications at UdeA.

Each outreach strategy session is led by an expert professor who broadens knowledge and understanding of a topic of global importance. "The UdeA Master Classes develop the contents in depth and with a high level of specificity," said Garcés Valderrama, who argued that the practical experience of the experts guarantees the value of the knowledge shared.

The dissertations of the researchers were based on the Universidad de Antioquia's synchronized work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, known as SDGs and proposed by the United Nations, and the challenges left by Misión de Sabios Colombia 2019. "This is our chance to share what the School of Nutrition and Dietetics is doing to use natural products to prevent chronic diseases like cancer," said Professor María Elena Maldonado Celis, Ph.D. in Life Sciences and Health from the University of Strasbourg.

Julio Eduardo Cañón Barriga, a professor at UdeA’s Faculty of Engineering and Ph.D. recipient in Hydrology from the University of Arizona, stated: "The great motivation was to leave useful material to raise awareness about the environmental crisis in which we are living," believing that knowledge is a basic tool for a good start and that everyone can contribute to finding a solution.

Topics and experts 

Several topics were planned to be covered by university experts in UdeA’s first Master Class installment:

  • Professor María Elena Celis from UdeA’s School of Nutrition and Dietetics will discuss natural products as a cancer chemoprevention tool.
  • Professor Julio Eduardo Barriga Cañón from UdeA’s School of Engineering will present a planetary perspective grounded in earth engineering.
  • Professor Germán Darío Valencia Agudelo from UdeA’s Institute of Political Studies will examine the lessons that can be drawn from Colombia's negotiated peace.
  • Dora Benjumea Gutiérrez, a professor at UdeA’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical and Food Sciences, will be expanding on the topic of cannabidiol and the investigation of its analgesic activity.
  • Professor Gloria Patricia Cardona Gómez will discuss dementia, habits, and the brain. The School of Medicine professor believes that prevention is the key to this trilogy.

Professor María Elena Celis discusses cancer chemoprevention strategies with dietary changes and the use of bioactive compounds from fruits and vegetables. Photo: UdeA Communications Office.

Internal and external relations 

In recent years, virtual classes have marked new directions for academia in all senses, including the positioning and international visibility of institutions, especially with the conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. "Mobility and knowledge sharing are currently not limited to in-person interactions. Tools like the Master Class UdeA have evolved into a letter of introduction for numerous universities worldwide," said Garcés Valderrama.

For Professor Maldonado Celis, "This is an original and very striking strategy to internationalize the research work of the Food Components Impact on Health Group".

To ensure that viewers from outside Colombia can follow along, all the classes have English subtitles. "In this way, the construction of knowledge that our professors have achieved will go beyond the usual circuits and will demonstrate the capabilities of the Universidad de Antioquia at all levels," argued Guisao Bustamante. 

Cañón Barriga guaranteed that UdeA's vision is global and not limited to Colombia. "It's an intriguing opportunity to ask viewers around the globe, via UdeA’s Master Class: what will it take to achieve planetary justice? And to determine whether we will be able to fulfill basic obligations like not wasting food."

Camera, action...

With the help of the Universidad de Antioquia Foundation, the International Relations and Communications offices set out to create productions in academic settings that provided the right conditions for scholars to share their expertise, bringing the Master Classes to life. "This is a production of the audiovisual media team at UdeA with professional quality that responds to an exploration of formats to disseminate science in a maximum of 50 minutes," noted Guisao Bustamante.

The professors, who were chosen through open calls in all academic units, were prepared with all the professionalism necessary to not only transmit their expertise but also to meet the standards of a television product. "We took classes in oral expression, had to write scripts, and did careful work to synthesize the material; in short, it was a complete experience," concluded Maldonado Celis.

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