Call for papers 64

(January-June 2025)

Topic: The social impact of graduate studies

Deadline for reception: June 28, 2024[1]


Érik Sánchez Flores (Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Mexico)
Antonio Saldívar Moreno (El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Mexico)
Silvia Verónica Ariza Ampudia (Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Mexico)
Beatriz Anguiano Escobar (Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Mexico)


For decades Mexico has struggled to make education an engine of social transformation and improvement in the population’s living conditions and the country’s development. The preparation of responsible, committed professionals who construct their expertise using an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach has enabled the generation of new ideas and knowledge that drive the advancement of science, as well as social transformation, However, there are factors that get in the way of the connection between graduate studies and the construction of strategies and tools that address the pressing problems that we face as a society in a way that leads to the transformation of the pernicious realities that pervade our world today. Preparing responsible, committed citizens with the capacity to produce new knowledge and generate an impact on public policies and on concrete actions to transform themselves and their context in a favorable direction is the key to this process; likewise, effectively connecting graduate studies and the academic production of graduate programs to important social issues involves a different way of understanding education, research and the construction of knowledge.

The quality of these graduate programs cannot be measured merely by the number of graduates, or the fulfillment of certain indicators; it is more important to consider the program’s impact; its capacity for participating in different collectives to solve simple and complex problems; the relevance of its proposals; and the balance it achieves between observing and addressing challenges arising in different workplace, social, cultural and ecological contexts (Tünnermann, 2014, in Lechuga, 2017). For these purposes, we understand social impact as the totality of meaningful or positive effects that contribute to solving or addressing social challenges by way of activities or projects associated with a particular graduate program. This conceptualization obviously calls for more open, efficient and transparent access to the knowledge produced within a framework of academic integrity and ethics in order to achieve collective and comprehensive knowledge construction that will have a positive impact on society and make relevant contributions to the issues it is facing.

Some of the challenges that graduate programs must deal with to achieve meaningful social impact are: maintaining relevance in a fast-moving social dynamic that includes accelerated, ongoing change and a wide range of issues; generating inter- and trans-disciplinary collaboration while undertaking viable projects that transcend rigid hierarchical formats; advancing in the achievement of efficient management between governmental and non-governmental institutions, groups and agencies so that research and its results permeate different settings of social and educational practice. The social impact of scientific research must thus be understood as the “effect, change or benefit for the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, environment or quality of life, beyond the walls of academia” (Penfield et al., 2014, in Díaz et al., 2018, p. 76). This implies a major commitment on the part of those who undertake scientific and technological research.

In the same way, this conceptualization of quality in graduate studies requires an analysis of the allocation and distribution of financial and other resources, with an eye to dispersion among a wider range of research groups and actors as well as a diversity of social settings, and greater depth in efforts to link research, knowledge generation, and the application of knowledge in contexts where vulnerability or the need for innovation is detected (Kvam, 2018). Another way for graduate programs to have a meaningful impact on society is by highlighting and discussing significant cultural, political and structural obstacles to positive social transformation.

What kind of orientation guides the educational processes and the generation of knowledge in the graduate studies community that seeks to achieve social impact? What knowledge, experiences and know-how are being used to ensure that educational excellence and the generation of knowledge have a positive impact in different social settings? It is on these and other questions that this edition of Sinéctica wishes to focus.

The kinds of production being sought are articles that report on empirical research contributing to knowledge related to the social impact generated by graduate programs in the following areas:

  • Educational policies for the social relevance of graduate programs:  

Understanding of the scope of institutions’ actions, programs or proposals aimed at focusing graduate school mechanisms, content and research on direct impact on society, the country’s development, and the democratic distribution of scientific knowledge.

  • Graduate programs’ mechanisms for collaborating with communities, and academic actors’ social presence:

Analysis of strategies, methodologies, procedures and tools used by research groups or networks, educational units and programs to work with communities within a framework of academic ethics, equality, or the collective construction of knowledge.

  • Results of graduate programs in addressing high-priority problems: 

Discussion of successful cases that have addressed or shed light on social, productive or environmental issues by way of learning, research or management projects that form part of a graduate program. Cases that have generated information about difficulties or obstacles to addressing high-priority issues with knowledge generated in graduate programs.

  • Evaluation of the social impact of graduate studies:

Analysis of the social context and the impacts of graduate school projects, the level of stakeholder involvement, the management of results and their integration into decision-making and implementation (the dimensions of analysis, participation and management), design of indicators, experiences of major social impact by graduates, awards for innovation.

Broadening the academic discussion of the impact of graduate studies on the fulfillment of social demands will undoubtedly help to shed light on the positive effects that are already being felt as a result of changes to the character of education policy. More importantly, this reflection will serve to identify opportunities for reorienting educational processes in graduate schools to encourage not just the development of innovative skills and knowledge, but also their meaningful and relevant connection to their social context.

Key words: graduate studies, impact, scientific production, society, education


Bibliographical references

Díaz, A., Sánchez, R. and Rosales, B. (2018). Metodologías e indicadores académicos, económicos, sociales y tecnológicos para la evaluación del impacto de la investigación científica universitaria. Nexo Revista Científica, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 74-88.

Kvam, R. (2018). Evaluación del impacto social: integrando los aspectos sociales en los proyectos de desarrollo. Monograph from the Inter-American Development Bank.

Lechuga, S. (2017). Pertinencia social y producción de conocimiento en una institución de posgrado para profesores, dependiente de la administración pública estatal. 13th National Conference on Educational Research. San Luis Potosí.


[1]  Submissions should be made to the Sinéctica website, once the author has registered. Research and theoretical articles are received in Spanish, English and Portuguese. Only unpublished work is accepted. All articles, without exception, will be reviewed blindly by outside experts.