Successful completion of Erasmus+ academic exchange with Colombian university

Bogota campus, Universidad de los Andes

Kent Law School (KLS) welcomed PhD students and staff from the Universidad de los Andes School of Law, Bogota, this academic year.

This exchange, together with an exchange by Kent Law School students and staff to Colombia this year, closed the Erasmus+ exchange agreement to foster new collaborative research and learning opportunities for scholars between the two institutions.

The exchange programme was completed in the UK with two Colombian exchange students Maria Cristina Hernandez and Carolina Bejarano, presenting at a workshop their work-in-progress to Professors from KLS, Yale, and Sciences Pro as well as to their visiting supervisors. The postgraduate workshop explored new connections and issues on the relationships between debt, nature, and scales.

Universidad de los Andes ranked 5th in Latin America QS World Rankings, was selected as a partner institution, due to its outstanding research and teaching and the critical approach of its Law School, which is shared by KLS.

Universidad de los Andes’s staff members visiting KLS, Associate Professors of Law, Carolina Olarte and Esteban Restrepo, spoke of how the partnership has enabled interdisciplinary discussions on common concerns within law and social justice, and how these affect society in both the UK and South America.

Professor Olarte said ““this in-person visit has enabled us to discuss in more detail how our two institutions share similar concerns and how we can further our plans to harness our collective knowledge and research, developing new and joint research projects, starting with eight Kent PhD students coming to Bogota for the Summer School.”

Professor Restrepo spoke of the excitement of both staff and students in the creation of a ‘globalised legal academy’ and welcome the continued future dialogue with Kent Law School academics.

The exchange has two KLS PhD students finishing their year in Bogota, Colombia: Peter Drury and Sam Shirley-Beavan

Peter’s research work, focused on Colombia, said “The Exchange Programme is providing me with an opportunity of deepening my knowledge of Colombia’s criminal justice system and the Transitional Justice System. The scoping work I am undertaking is building a firm foundation on which I can build my fieldwork in the future. The los Andes campus – as the name suggests – is situated on the mountainside, the university logo, appropriately enough, is a mountain goat! But I’m not on campus every day, the Erasmus+ Exchange has helped me to meet with NGOs, human rights lawyers, academics, officials and magistrates, as well as academics, ensuring I gain different perspectives for my work Overcoming Structural Injustice in Colombia: Corporate Crime and Limits to Evidence.” investigating the national and international structures and dynamics which consolidate the impunity of corporations operating in Colombia”

Sam will be returning to Bogotá in September to carry on with fieldwork, “The exchange has helped me build the necessary network to make the next part of my fieldwork a success. It’s opened a direct line to academic staff at the Universidad de los Andes who have experience and expertise in the kind of research I am doing. They’ve also been able to introduce me to new literature and methodologies that I might not have been exposed to had I not been able to take part in the exchange.”

The University of Kent won funding to support the project with Universidad de los Andes under the European Union’s Erasmus+ Key Action 107 programme in 2019. UK institutions are no longer permitted to apply for funding to this scheme; however, Kent has been successful in its bid for funding under the UK Government’s Turing Scheme which supports outward mobility from the UK for students. This scheme has recently supported Kent students’ participation in the SGroup Universities in Europe Summer School hosted at Universidad de los Andes. Kent has been a full member of the SGroup network since 2011 and Universidad de los Andes has recently joined as an associate member It is hoped that the Turing Scheme will enable this and other partnerships, to continue to flourish, and benefit students at Kent.