Written by 15:09 English

New Constitution and New University

Constituent Forum is the initiative that follows the process of creating the new Constitution of the country, contributing to citizen training and discussion from the Universidad de Concepción

By Comunicaciones VRID

/ lucabrer@udec.cl

/Photographies: Archive

“Chile is experiencing a unique opportunity, for various reasons. For the first time we will be able to give ourselves a new Constitution as a country, drawn up by a body whose integration has been determined by the citizens, in an electoral process that has resulted in parity, reserved seats and the incorporation of several independent people.” This is how Dr. Ximena Gauché Marchetti, director of the UdeC Constituent Forum, defines the historical moment that the country is experiencing, an initiative formed in November 2020 by academics from different disciplines at the University of Concepción.

The team, made up of 25 professionals, became an institutional program in April 2021, which gives it greater operating powers. This way, it is possible to articulate various activities around its three main axes: connection with the environment, development of studies related to the subjects involved in the constituent process, and training. However, since January, spaces for discussion began to open up, with a series of talks within the framework of the Summer School, where topics such as the use of water, the role of science in the new constitution, diversity and territory.

“This is an opportunity to rethink our social, economic, and political model, and certainly, the way we have built our society,” explained Dr. Gauché, a lawyer and associate professor at the Faculty of Legal Sciences. Indeed, the Constituent Forum has its roots in the concern felt by the UdeC community since the social outbreak, a time when it was possible to experience university values, such as its promotion and development of democracy, freedom of expression, autonomous thought, critical and flexible, citizen responsibility, and the search for the common good. Assuming this vocation of public service, the institution sought a strategy to offer the university community, local and national, content that would support the debate and exchange of ideas, thus bringing this process closer to all citizens.

“There are citizen demands installed in Chile for many years on issues ranging from social rights to the political regime,” Gauché deepens. “In this context, the University of Concepción is called to play a role at this time. The Constituent Forum Program promotes initiatives that connect us as an institution with this process in a participatory, interdisciplinary way, with a gender and intercultural approach, and from our regions of Ñuble and Biobío,” 


Although the Constituent Forum is based on academic activity, the premise of its actions is the integration and participation of different voices. An example of them is the cycle of talks “Constituent Conversations in the Campanil”, organized together with the Alumni UdeC network, where specialists meet every week to share their experiences in different areas. This series of seminars, held online every Wednesday and broadcasted on the UdeC’s social networks, has enabled the analysis of central issues in the constitutional debate, such as the rights of original peoples, access to health, the development of regions, reproductive rights, protection of the environment and families in the new social pact.

Coinciding with the 102nd anniversary of the UdeC, it was called to participate in “Concepts for the New Constitution”, a call that gathered contributions from students, teachers, civil servants from the three campuses, as well as members of the Alumni Community. The results, summarized in a cloud of words, allow us to observe how education, the environment, decentralization, health and human rights are the issues that most concern those who participated.

At the same time, the team works in collaboration with the Permanent Training Program and the Center for Training and Didactic Resources (CFRD) in the cycle of free courses “Citizen training for the constituent process”. The first version, “Childhood and Adolescence”, had 265 registered, while its second edition “Gender and sexual identities” opened its inscriptions last June.

That same month, the “Constituent Observatory” began its work, coordinated by Alfonso Henríquez Ramírez, an academic from the Chillán Campus. The team synthesizes the weekly progress of the Constitutional Convention, analyzing the discourse of the different actors, monitoring the participation mechanisms and the agreements reached. The observatory works around six priority themes, without prejudice to including others later. These are: Sustainable Development and Environment, by Omar Salazar; Recognition of native peoples, by Jeanne Simon; Political system and decentralization, by Violeta Montero, Childhood and adolescence, by Cecilia Pérez; Citizen Participation, by Elizabeth Parra, and Gender Equity, by Alejandra Brito.

This effort is complemented with weekly interviews on Radio UdeC, participation in special TVU programs around milestones of the constituent process, and opinion columns published in institutional media. All in order to offer, as its website says, “A look from the south to the future of the country.”

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Last modified: 2 de junio de 2023