The Universidad Católica Santa María la Antigua (USMA) was established by public law in 1965 as the country’s first private university. It is the only not-for-public university in Panama and, as such, holds a quasi-official status within the country’s higher education system. The University has characterized itself for pioneer and ground-working activities in offering new career options to Panamanian students in psychology, law, industrial engineering and environmental studies. USMA is the only Panamanian university to offer studies at the doctoral level in two fields: law and psychology (counselling), The more than 6,000 students attend classes in one of five campuses: the main campus in Panama City, or the regional campuses in David, province of Chiriqui (eastern region bordering with Costa Rica); Colon, province of Colon (North Atlantic region); Chitré, province of Herrera (Mid-central region) and Santiago, province of Verguas (mid-central region). Research is supported through the Research department of the Office of Graduate Studies and Research headed by the General Dean of Graduate Studies and Research and several specialized research units such as the Center for the Study of Higher Education at USMA which assumes primary responsibility for implementation of this proposal. Seminars, lectures and public events on themes of relevance to the general public and higher education constitute an important service that USMA offers to Panamanian society. USMA is known, particularly, for its leadership in ensuring Public Forums that project the importance of values, ethics, and service to the community and the country. The signing of the Ethics Pleadge by all political parties during election years is of particular relevance and importance. USMA, as Panama’s Catholic University sees itself playing a special leadership role in the development of humanistic education, value education, and social responsibility. Research on issues and activities pertaining to these areas are especially supported and outstanding scholars in the country find in USMA their common meeting ground. USMA has strong research initiatives in community extension services through its International Projects Management, Applied Research, University Social Service, Service –Learning and Volunteer units where both domestic and international students and researchers are carrying out an increasing number of activities.


The University will bring Research and Doctoral knowledge and experience which can be contextualised and shared with the less developed partners (in this domain). The nature of capacity building and the approach to capability building in the project make it essential to have a partner with experience paired with less experienced partners. USMA provides this in Panama and allows for a greater impact as the results emerge and knowledge transfer is required.