Latin America, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Education

    Education for social change in Latin America

    Project Number: 400.1020

    Latin America is becoming increasingly pluralistic in religious terms. At the same time, politico-religious fundamentalisms that undermine democracy and the rule of law are growing at an alarming rate. These conservative religious groups are well entrenched in the political party systems of various nation-states and are in close dialogue with the conservative media and economic and political elites. They often spread messages that are politically and culturally strongly opposed to any progress on human rights for women and the LGTBIQ population, as well as social initiatives that advocate for social and environmental justice (more regulation and reparations for damages) and call for immediate action against climate change.

    Background information

    Background information Partner with academic program:

    The Latin American Bible University (UBL), is a theological university in San José, Costa Rica. In its educational work, UBL promotes sensitivity to gender justice, environmental issues, and alternative economic models oriented toward the "Good Life" for all. Its principles are ecumenical openness, holistic spirituality, commitment to peace, and special sensitivity to the ethnic diversity of Latin America. Committed to contextual theology, the UBL decided two years ago to make "planetary life" a new key aspect of teaching, research and community life. To that end, UBL received Green Seminary certification in 2020. UBL's educational offerings are open to all and are aimed at people throughout Latin America. In addition to university education, UBL's Biblical Pastoral Institute (IBP) offers theological courses that provide basic theological knowledge.

    The Evangelical Theological Community in Chile (CTE) with a sponsorship of eight churches, is the only Protestant educational institution in Chile to offer theological training and continuing education at an academic level. This is primarily aimed at people from the various evangelical churches in Chile and is holistic and open to the diversity of Christian traditions. In the various training programs, CTE prepares participants for their future work in church and society and places special emphasis on a socially critical educational program that advocates for social inclusion of dissenters and minorities and counteracts a fundamentalist reading of the Bible that, among other things, cements stereotypical gender role patterns and seeks to promote anti-democratic state and social structures.

    The "Asociación Educativa Teológica Evangélica" (AETE) is a training center for evangelical-ecumenical theology in Peru. It trains full-time pastors as well as volunteers and religiously interested people for church and social commitment. Among other things, the ability to initiate processes of change in the respective environment is imparted. AETE was first founded by Protestant churches from the ecumenical environment as a Peruvian branch of the Latin American Bible University UBL in Costa Rica. Since 2012, it has been functioning independently of UBL.

    The theological college "Seminario Andino San Pablo" (SASP)

    offers basic theological training as well as university theological training. The university training is aimed at future pastors and takes place in collaboration with the Universidad Biblica Latinoamericana (UBL) in Costa Rica. SASP is based in the city of Huancayo in the Peruvian Central Andes. One of the main focuses of the SASP is the promotion of women and intercultural dialogue. To this end, the Institute conducts theology courses in communities in the nearby rainforest, as well as in the Central (Cerro de Pasco and Huanuco) and Southern Andes (Puno, Apurimac).

    Background information popular theological education program:

    The Ecumenical Research and Training Center "Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones" (DEI) in San José, Costa Rica, works in the fields of education, research and publications. The starting point is the conviction that theology must be in exchange with other fields of knowledge. The seminars deal with interdisciplinary issues from theology, economics, environmental and social sciences. DEI addresses members of church and non-church grassroots groups and provides them with skills through which they can actively participate in social change processes.

    Project goals Program phase 2022-2025

    The partners UBL, DEI, CTE, AETE, SASP contribute to the 2030 Agenda of the Paris Agreement through their activities in the field of theological education. In particular, the partners work on the inclusion of socially marginalized and vulnerable populations (SDGs 10.2 and 16.7). Students in theological education acquire ecumenical foundations that allow them to engage critically with issues of faith, society and their relationship to the environment. This should allow them to engage professionally for justice, peace, integrity of creation, and diversity after graduation.

    In 2021, our partners reached 546 women and 431 men through their theological education programs.

    Target group

    Target group academic education 

    The educational programs of our partners UBL, CTE, AETE and SASP are open to all people interested in studying theology. Through the students, the educational work benefits the various churches in a large number of countries in Latin America. Primarily, the offer is used by pastors, people involved in pastoral work, church leaders. In addition, there are lay people and leaders of church organizations, as well as professionals interested in theology, Christian or Protestant religious education. To expand the circle of potential theology students, our partners expanded their existing virtual study program during the pandemic, so that even more students participated in the training program than before the pandemic.

    Target group popular educational offer

    Both the DIE (Costa Rica) and AETE (Peru), work on a practical theology that links the main concepts of theology with the daily socio-political challenges and mechanisms of exclusion, violence and oppression with which the target groups of their courses are confronted. Its educational offer is addressed to socially engaged members of communities and of social and ecclesial movements of Latin America, to theologians, animators of different origins and to researchers. The content of DEI's activities is oriented toward the marginalized and politically persecuted of the continent, while AETE's focus is more geographically oriented toward the social reality of Peru and is primarily active in the areas of gender justice and violence prevention. Both aim with their popular educational offer at the solidary support of women, young people, indigenous people, Afro-Americans, migrants and further social group, which are discriminated or/and excluded by poverty, engagement in the field of environment and human rights, their ethnic or social characteristics, as well as their sexual orientation. 


    Activities academic educational program 

    The partners offer various training courses that can be completed with a diploma, the "Bachillerato", the licentiate or even a master's degree. Since January 2018, the couple Ángel Román and Simone Dollinger have been working on site for Mission 21. Ángel Román is mainly dedicated to teaching and research at UBL, Simone Dollinger works as project coordinator of our theological partners. At the end of 2019, UBL published a comprehensive research report on the longer-term impact of theological education on social transformation processes. The study shows that UBL's educational model promotes critical thinking, leading to a shift in student thinking, and demonstrates how theology can be related to concrete social challenges in church and society. During their academic training, students undergo a process of transformation. This is expressed in the fact that the students question their previous, often conservative theological education and rediscover the task of theology for society. UBL also enables its students to address so-called taboo topics in church and theological education circles, such as gender, sexuality, feminism, and the latent and painful reality of femicide. UBL will publish a second, in-depth study with case studies from Bolivia, Peru and Costa Rica on the social impact of former UBL students by mid-2022. Our Chilean partner CTE plans to publish a research report on the longer-term impact of theological education on social transformation processes in Chile by mid-2023.

    Activities popular educational program

    Mission 21 is currently supporting the DEI with the socio-theological workshop and the seminar "Lectura Popular de la Biblia". In addition, a contribution is made to a lecturer position. The socio-theological workshop strengthens the critical awareness of the participants and promotes a reflection on gender issues, interreligiousness, human rights and the protection and treatment of the environment. It contributes to personal development with the aim of qualitatively improving active participation in social change processes. With the method of the "Lectura Popular de la Biblia" the seminar participants learn to interpret the Bible in a critical way by themselves. It is an important tool for opposing fundamentalist currents in politics, society and religion. Mission 21 supports AETE in its popular educational offering by conducting annual continuing education courses ("Diplomados") on specialized topics such as: Gender and Church, Physical Disability and Theology, Children's Ministry; Environmental Justice, Gender and Violence Prevention in Lima, Chiclayo and Cajamarca in collaboration with local church communities.

    Project images


    Latin America

    • 5.1 million inhabitants
    • 163 students from 18 Latin American countries were enrolled at UBL in 2020
    • 14.4% of the population are Protestant


    Project budget 2024

    CHF 195'500

    jannet villanueva

    Jannet Villanueva

    Coordinator Latin America (Bolivia and Peru)

    simone dollinger

    Simone Dollinger

    Coordinator Religion & Development
    ► Email


    Jacqueline Brunner

    Responsible church partnerships;
    Responsible legacies and bequests

    Tel. 061 260 23 37
    ► E-mail

    Hope thanks to your support

    Mission 21
    Protestant Mission Basel

    PO Box 270
    Missionsstrasse 21
    4009 Basel, Switzerland
    Tel.: +41 (0)61 260 21 20

    Donation account Switzerland:
    IBAN: CH58 0900 0000 4072 6233 2
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    Savings Bank Lörrach-Rheinfelden
    Swift BIC: SKLODE66
    BLZ: 683 500 48
    IBAN: DE39 6835 0048 0001 0323 33
    Account No. : 1032333

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