Located in the northwest corner of South America, Colombia has rich and complex geography that is shaped by three exuberant branches of the Andes mountain range system and lined by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is the fourth largest country in South America and the third most populous nation in the region. In the last five years, Colombia has established itself as one of the most rapidly growing and innovative economies in Latin America. The country’s natural diversity is comparable to its rich cultural heritage reflecting the indigenous, Spanish, and African origins of its people. This makes Colombian food, music, dance, and art greatly diverse and unique.
A remarkable location for biodiversity, sustainable development, and peace studies
Colombia has always been a preferred destination for students and scholars from around the world conducting research or interested in biodiversity and sustainable development. As the second most biodiverse country in the world, Colombia opens numerous possibilities for academic visitors to expand their knowledge. Colombia provides an unparalleled diversity of natural environments ranging from plains and deserts to high mountains, snowy peaks, Amazonian jungle, and Pacific and Caribbean coastlines— each with its own set of unique fauna and flora. Thus, providing the perfect context for adventurous researchers aiming to engage in research on distinct ecologies and establish networks with native communities.
In recent years, the country has also become a primary destination for those studying peace negotiations, rural development, and social transformation. After the signature of the peace agreement in 2016 between the 50-year old FARC guerrilla group and President Santos’ administration, Colombia became the most interesting living laboratory for the implementation of innovative peace agreements that are taking place in rural areas with numerous communities of demobilized members of the former insurgency. The “new” Colombia, opens the doors for foreign scholars and students to do research in regions that were not possible to visit in the past. While there have been major improvements in terms of security in Colombia, important challenges remain present as the peace agreements are implemented.
A diversified and connected system of higher education
Colombia has a growing and diverse higher education system, composed of over 296 higher education institutions, offering more than 2,206 master’s programs and 374 doctoral programs. Colombian higher education institutions have been innovating their programs and procedures in order to attract more foreign scholars and students. The National Ministry of Education and its allies, MinCiencias and ICETEX, have invested heavily in advancing the installed capacities of Colombia's higher education system in order to improve the research and teaching in their campuses.
Furthermore, the nation-wide initiative “Colombia Challenge your Knowledge” (CCYK), which is led by the top universities in the country, has been analyzing and implementing the best internationalization practices in order to attract more international visitors.
Colombia’s bet on Science, Technology, and Innovation
A number of new partnerships between Colombian and U.S. universities have been cemented during recent years; many of them funded by Colombia Científica. As the flagship Colombian governmental initiative to promote internationalization, science, and research in the country, Colombia Científica has coordinated efforts with the productive sector and world-class institutions.
This inter-institutional initiative, supported by the World Bank, has gathered 148 stakeholders participating in eight Scientific Ecosystems in the following strategic focus areas: bio-economics, health, sustainable energy, food, and society. More than 900 products have been developed in the framework of this alliance, including patents, prototypes, bioprocessing facilities, industrial design registrations, spin-offs, among others.
The Territorial Ecosystems of Science, Technology, and Innovation (CT&I), established by MinCiencias, also provide a framework for development in the different regions of Colombia. By integrating the regions' specific needs into strategic investment projects, competitive production areas, and development initiatives, the Department Councils of CT&I have played a key role in the alignment of regional initiatives and the goals and policies of science, technology, and innovation in the country.
Finally, during the last decade, Colombia has experienced impressive progress in terms of digital government and policy-making for the strengthening of Information and Communication Technologies. As part of this achievement, the Colombian government has created Excellence and Appropriation Centers, aiming to position Colombia in the field of big data analytics.
Fulbright in Colombia
The Fulbright Commission in Colombia has made determined efforts aimed to enhance the diversity, decentralization, and access to its portfolio of opportunities for graduate studies, research, teaching, and English teaching. Broadening the geographical presence of U.S. grantees in the country has been critical to achieving these objectives. The extended coverage of Fulbright Programs for U.S. participants in the country has been possible thanks to the significant contributions from Colombian partners such as ICETEX, the National Ministry of Education, MinCiencias, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad del Valle, Universidad de los Andes, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Universidad de Antioquia, Universidad del Norte, Universidad del Rosario, and Universidad EAFIT.
To learn more about Colombia as a travel destination, visit http://www.colombia.co/. If you are interested in the experience of previous U.S. Scholars in the country, please visit the Fulbright Commission website. For questions related to the U.S. Scholar Program in Colombia or if you need assistance in finding a suitable host institution for your application, please email Program Officer, Sergio Sánchez.