The Central America Initiative—a vibrant set of partnerships between Seattle University and the Jesuit universities in Central America, and other partners in the region—got its start as part of shared activities between Seattle University and the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua, Nicaragua. Today, SU professors, students, and staff join Central American counterparts across the region as they participate in joint research and scholarship, exchanges, immersion experiences, and collaborative teaching. Attentive to our partners’ needs, Seattle University’s Central America Initiative is steered by the Central America Advisory Team comprised of SU staff and faculty with deep ties to the region.
2019 student exchanges
In 2017, given the regional challenges faced by the three Jesuit universities of Central America—the Universidad Centroamericana in Nicaragua; the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeon Cañas” in El Salvador; and the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala—Seattle University began to seek opportunities to participate in the priorities identified by the three universities as well as partner with each one on strategic projects. Memoranda of understanding were signed with the UCA-El Salvador and the URL-Guatemala in 2019. Currently, Seattle University is exploring possible shared actions with One Equal Heart and Jesuit partner organizations active in Chiapas given shared commitments and cultural similarities with Guatemala and our partners there.
The three Jesuit universities of Central America have identified regional priorities such as migration, youth employment, ending gender violence, promoting Indigenous rights, and environmental sustainability. Led by these themes, Seattle University faculty, staff, and students join our Central American partners in shared activities. In El Salvador, we’re participating in a sustainable livelihoods project for rural youth. In Guatemala, Seattle University is collaborating on research, services, and community engagement around women’s leadership and efforts to end gender violence. And in Nicaragua, issues of good governance and the inclusion of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities are the focus areas of our collaboration.
The Central America Initiative is about connecting with partners in a horizontal manner that facilitates mutual learning and solidarity. As a former SU student, my involvement led me to work in Nicaragua after graduation and then choose to keep studying Central America in graduate school.Andrew Gorvetzian SU grad 2015
SU delegation to Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua, 2014. Photo by Joe Orlando.
Formally begun in 2014 with a signed memorandum of understanding, this initiative is built upon many years of collaborative activities in Nicaragua with the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), including students, faculty, staff, and administrative leaders. An initial series of student service experiences in the late 1990’s developed into annual SU faculty/staff immersions starting in 2001. These engagements between SU and the UCA led to multiple joint initiatives culminating with the hosting of an UCA delegation on the SU campus in 2013, which, in turn, allowed the SU and UCA presidents—Fr. Steve Sundborg and Fr. Chepe Idiáquez—to sign a memorandum of understanding in 2014 and then its renewal in 2019.