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Experiential, participatory, and leaner-focused education that allow communities to build on their direct experiences and knowledge

Photo of Sandra null
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Colombian communities are facing social, health and environmental consequences of a climate change, continued expansion of the agriculture frontier, marked transformation of ecosystems and displacement caused by violence. Malnutrition and difficulties for food production, loss of biodiversity, and contamination are documented. We believe human well-being must be supported on biodiversity conservation not only by its intrinsic values but also by its instrumental values, meaning services it provides. The idea-project is focused on create Insect schools in Colombia, working with the communities to know and use their own natural resources and knowledge. We will work to increase food security and conserving biodiversity based on social ecological systems. Native heritage value of biodiversity combined with our experience on species and the roles they accomplish in nature will be a key factor to impact fragmentation and competition for scarce resources and improve sustainability. We will join the community to rediscover insect local species, learn about them, define needs and activities for conserving, managing them or growth them for decontamination, producing at the same time protein-food for local consumption. We consider building networks and fostering partnerships and using dialogue- oriented methodologies through contact with other learners and experts, so that participants can develop content knowledge, leadership and competences. We propose to start with communities as IKARWA in Sierra Nevada Santa Marta as they in an explicit way ask to work with us. This may be the starting point to validate the usefulness of intelligent, itinerant insect schools for impacting people, bridging planet natural resources and conservation with social inclusive ways for guarantee prosperity. Scientists and professors are committed with this initiative to work on the right for people to have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food and education.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

We hope to impact families and leaderships of IKARWA community. In first steps we will work on the food –biodiversity nexus with leaderships of the community and governance actors to obtain a cognitive mapping workshop and to identify the principal aspects that locally contribute to food security or biodiversity conservation. System properties, human, cultural and social capital will be evaluated. Priorities and actors on time lines will be established. Then we will start working with selected actors and leader youths to create the school guidelines and activities in the time frame. Fieldwork, biological studies and data collection will be planned to include most youth members. Specific work sessions for gender and age will be planned to define group activities and roles. We expect woman and girls to be actively involved and empowered. Kids between 5 and 10 will be involved in practical sessions of insects knowing and identification.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We are convinced insects are a key factor for developing this project. This idea is putting together all available aspects related to insects that may be used to construct needed bridges among communities and experts or even environmentalists and amateurs in behalf of food conservation and education. We consider this is powerful combination and a tremendous opportunity to do apparently simply thing to attend urgent needs. We have the community’s call, the problems affecting them and the opportunities and trajectory as university to lead this process after being researching, teaching and working in insects for more than 15 years. Colombians working together form different institutions, regions and disciplines is a unique opportunity. Insects are a common factor for education in natural sciences, environmental and ecological systems. They are both plagues natural services giving and they represent opportunities for innovation and added value in food and agro industry.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Universidad Nacional de Colombia is one of the biggest universities in the country. It has capacity and infrastructure as well experience in research, extension and teaching programs. Agronomy and Sciences faculties have accompanied the society and communities in food production. Entomology programs are leaders in process and research and posgraduate programs include study of most species around the country.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we are a formal initiative through a university.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

We have seen how insects impact our planet. We know how education change lives; we saw here, how the insects are a wonderful instruments changing lifes. We saw receptivity and attitude of some communities when they visit our insectary or we go to the field to work with them. We saw examples of schools changing lives as example intelligent schools in Uruguay. We believe we can do a lot whit what we have but we need to put bridges among universities, society and government.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Sierra Nevada and its surroundings close to the Caribbean coast have been recognized as an irreplaceable area of global significance for biodiversity conservation. Beyond the mountain itself 1.2 million people are dependent upon the fresh water supply that drains down from river basins. Prosperity in this zone constitutes a great challenge in relation to the continued expansion or agricultural frontier, unorganized tourism and displacement caused by the violence. Main activities in Sierra have been affecting water quality and food availability and cases of poor nutrition have been frequently reported. We consider insects as a real alternative to implement proposals for development and prosperity conserving the planet and in line with the needs of today’s society. Much of the knowledge derived form the study of insects is likely to be used for the benefit of the rural, peasant and indigenous communities and for society in general.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)


Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Communities are waiting to work with us and their leaders invited us to start working as they have interest. We are convinced that this kind of projects are really needed in the country. We have a surplus as students that are ready to work. We also have experts that have had experiences in international experiences and recognized in the community. We have expert people, museums, insectariums and infrastructure supporting the work. We have the inspiration, a multidisciplinary team and experience

Geographic Focus

Valledupar Cesar, departament, Colombia. IKARWA community. ASOCIT-Association of Arhuacasn community

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)


Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Mónica Giraldo Santofimio - PNN GAIC

Hola Sandra,
Mi nombre es Mónica Giraldo y soy profesional del Grupo de Asuntos Internacionales de Parques Nacionales de Colombia. Está muy interesante tu proyecto. Me gustaría confirmar contigo si la comunidad está dentro del Parque Nacional Tayrona o bien en su zona de amortiguamiento, podríamos revisar en qué medida PNN puede involucrarse y colaborar. Te dejo mi correo y por favor no dudes en contactarme (