UMass Amherst Education Faculty Help Launch First Inter-American Group to Boost Tertiary Education

Ryan Wells
Joseph Berger

AMHERST, Mass. – The College of Education at University of Massachusetts Amherst has teamed up with the University of Missouri and Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia to receive a $200,000 Ford Foundation planning grant focusing on the first inter-American organization to work to improve quality, access, equity and development of education above the high school level – or “tertiary education” – in the Latin America and the Caribbean region (LAC).

The one-year grant will allow the group to develop an implementation strategy for “La Red Inter-Americana para la Integración, Investigación y Desarrollo en Educación Superior”  (The Inter-American Network for Integration, Research and Development in Higher Education – RIIDES).

Leading the project for UMass Amherst are Ryan Wells, assistant professor in the department of educational policy, research and development, and Joseph B. Berger, associate dean for research and engagement in the College of Education. Their partners are associate professor Pilar Mendoza at the University of Missouri and Carlos Alberto Casas Herrera at the Universidad de Los Andes.

“RIIDES is a pioneering effort that will be the first multinational association of its kind,” says Berger. “It will increase attention on the entire range of institutions above the high school level in the LAC region, from technical institutes to research universities, and serve as a forum for improving the integration of policy and practice across all types of tertiary institutions.”

Wells and Berger added that RIIDES will also promote the creation, application, exchange, and dissemination of knowledge; be a hub for professional development and networking for scholars, leaders and policymakers; assist and contribute to capacity building for governments, sub-governments, institutions and other relevant stakeholders in developing the tertiary education sector throughout the region, and serve as a catalyst to promote collaborations with regional and global partners.

“One of the purposes of RIIDES is to connect researchers and scholars who have the most current data and evidence about the needs and opportunities of the tertiary education sector, with policymakers who are charged with addressing such needs,” says Wells. “Bridging the gap from policy development to policy implementation and best practices calls for practical and replicable knowledge. This requires dialogue among those who produce the knowledge that will inform policy, policy makers and administrators. RIIDES will make opportunities for such dialog possible.”