Peoples’ Intercultural University: Towards a transformative, integral and participatory peace

For the Association for Social Research and Action (NOMADESC), education and research have been two transformative elements for resolving the armed conflict. Through its education strategy, Nomadesc has stimulated and accompanied different ways of teaching. That is how between 2000 and 2010, Nomadesc taught 15 diploma courses in human rights education and research and 650 people from afro-descendant, indigenous and farming communities have graduated.

Universidad intercultural de los Pueblos

For Celeita, these are now “650 more human rights defenders in the South-west, who will work towards finding outcomes for a lasting peace”. From 2011 to 2012, these defenders specialised in economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.

In 2015, after three years of drawing up a viability plan and visiting the communities’ territories, the Peoples’ Intercultural University was born, “an open-air learning experience” designed to give more in-depth training to human rights defenders, who may come from different parts and different cultures of Colombia’s South-west, but they share similar stories of pain and resistance.

“The idea for the Intercultural University came out of the social processes and debates taking place in the communities, over the lack of access to education, the inequality that exists in Colombia, because unfortunately, graduate, secondary and primary level education has not been conceived with a territorial perspective, what they have done is impose western knowledge, without defending or respecting the communities’ own knowledge. (…)

The objective is for communities in the south-west to stop being laboratories for private universities, or even for public universities, where students apply the methods they have learned over the course of five years, but without bringing that knowledge back into the community.

The aim is for the community itself to do the research, to teach itself, for the transformation that their territories require”.[1]

The Peoples’ Intercultural University is innovative in the way that its courses are actually mobile, taking place outside the classrooms and conventional buildings: journeys through the territories where theory is applied in practice, and importance is given to the wisdom and traditions of resilience of its participants and peoples.


[1] Corporación de Apoyo a Comunidades Populares: Campesinos, indígenas y afros construyen la Universidad Intercultural de los Pueblos, 22nd September 2014

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