Comunica Investiga Lab

A research university?


And today it was my turn. I was not sure how to start or what to say. Today, a few months after starting this adventure that is Comunica Investiga Lab, two things come to my mind: a poem and an idea: the first, Ithaca by Cavafis; and the second, a research university. Two seemingly unconnected things. But as Chiara Rodríguez(1) says, “when we manage to find that nexus [between the apparently diverse], there is a sensation that mixes surprise, emotion and enjoyment with knowledge”. So I invite you to ask yourselves what do a laboratory, a poem and an idea have in common?

Constantino Cavafis
Selection, direct translation from Greek and notes by Cayetano Cantú
Presentation by F. José Férez Kuri

The PUCP has decided to become a research university. And although the question seems obvious, I think it is essential to ask ourselves what this means. At the end of the 20th century, Ernest Boyer(2) made “an analysis of academic work, accompanied by several proposals that seek to enrich and make this work flexible, improve the quality of its functions and transmit the importance and recognition that teaching at the undergraduate level requires” (Vega, 1999, p. 161). Boyer’s work focuses on the academic work of the university teacher as a means to transform the university. Many will say, in the face of the continuous professionalization of universities, the need to make research and teaching an integrated axis is a necessity to improve the quality of teaching, but, above all, the quality of professional training. And I agree with that. But what about the students, I wonder: what role do they have in this process of change? Is it enough to change the functions of teachers in order to change the university? Can the university be transformed into a research university without the active participation of students in guiding this change? “Interestingly, the report cites the fact that even in research universities many undergraduate students graduate without ever having experienced research first hand” (Arechavala, 2001, p. 1). And it is here, where the idea meets the poem.

For me, a research university is not one where the professors do research and keep up to date in their areas of specialization and, therefore, are able to provide me with the latest advances in knowledge. In the information and knowledge society(3) it is not enough to know the latest knowledge. The speed with which knowledge grows and becomes, in some cases, obsolete, is impressive. It is necessary to know how to select and build it. For this reason, my idea of a research university is that of an institution whose main focus is the training of professionals. But not just any professional. Its graduates are characterized by their ability to do research to contribute to solving the problems of human and sustainable development in the country and in the world. This competence, however, does not arise spontaneously. It is cultivated and developed in the graduates from their stage as students during their period of studies at the university. This is an educational community where both teachers and students do research. And they do it together, generating synergies that enhance not only the results of their research, but also their methods and techniques to do so. A community of researchers where academic knowledge is neither excluded nor privileged over the knowledge that arises from the practice of professional research(4). The differentiated place that both types of knowledge occupy in the world and in the processes of knowledge construction is recognized. A research university, as opposed to a research center that only produces research, is an educational institution that trains young research professionals by sharing and contrasting ideas, methods, sources and other inputs for research with their teachers as expert researchers during their training stage. But the current reality of universities is completely different. Remembering Vallejo(5) we will say “There is, brothers and sisters, a lot to do”, yet. Can you imagine? Surely we teachers will have to invent new ways of teaching and evaluating learning. Surely students will have to take on the challenge of choosing their subjects and constructing their training routes and areas of specialization. Surely the university will have to reinvent the accreditation of the training of its graduates, the relationship and hiring of its teachers, the resources and training spaces it uses, its forms of financing and other changes. That is my Ithaca. As Cavafis says, without it I would not have embarked on the path of teaching.

I had my first research experiences when I was studying economics at the Universidad del Pacífico. I began by filing books for a professor. Although it was an interesting subject, I found it boring. Then, a group of friends got together and decided to do field work on Velasco’s Agrarian Reform and we spent a whole summer living and working in agrarian production cooperatives. They were the expropriated farms of the Huaral Valley, Chancay and Aucallama. It was a fabulous experience. We learned about everything, not only about the economy and the agricultural sector. But where I really learned to do research was when I started studying visual arts at the Escuela Nacional Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes del Perú (ENSABAP). To investigate in the arts(6) is to investigate by creating an artistic proposal. It is the research that is done from the artistic practice itself articulating, in a reflexive and non-reflexive way, concepts, theories, experiences, intuitions and convictions. It is to investigate and think from doing(7); that is to say, it is to intertwine the action of our body with our thinking and feeling. And it is that in this process of inquiry, we position ourselves from the perceptual. For this reason, many believe that artists are not capable of taking a distance from our creative process. And of course we do, but in a second moment. We don’t need to do it before because the place from which we work and the language with which we express ourselves are neither reason nor words. It is perception which, by the way, is also a form of thought(8).

However, there, at the School, in the heat of this formative process, I learned some things beyond the arts. The first is that a research or innovation project, to put it in today’s fashionable terms, can emerge from almost any experience, whether one’s own or someone else’s. The important thing is to look at the world with curiosity, questioning it and questioning myself at every moment. The important thing is to look at the world with curiosity, questioning it and questioning myself at every moment. The second is that there is no single way to build a proposal. There are quality criteria, of conceptual and contextual reference to be met. But as Machado(9) would say, researcher “there is no path, the path is made by walking”. The third is that not everyone will like my proposal. But if I made my best effort and I sustain it solidly, they may disagree with my idea; but they will not be able to invalidate or deny it. We artists learn to accept our work by recognizing its strengths and limitations. As artists, we see the latter as part of our learning process and our professional and personal growth. And it is here where the idea and the poem meet with Comunica Investiga Lab.

This adventure is my way to Ithaca. More than an adventure, Comunica Investiga Lab is an experience that I enjoy very much, despite the effort. It is my way of teaching/learning to investigate. Teaching/learning to learn/learning theory, life, methodologies and ideas from day to day. In the society of the 21st century, research is a matter of every day and every blood.


  1. Rodríguez, Ch. (2022, marzo, 14). Y así se dijo, hágase Comunica Investiga Lab. Blog de Comunica Investiga Lab [on line]
  2. Boyer, E. (1997). Una propuesta para la educación superior del futuro. Fondo de Cultura Económica.
  3. Entendida 

Como una sociedad donde la información se constituye en una importante fuerza productiva y generadora de valor, en medio de una dinámica de participación social e intercambio de saberes, con las tic (Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación) como ‘asistente’ de los cambios sociales, organizacionales y culturales (Alva, 2015, p. 267).

Es decir, una sociedad donde la posibilidad de lograr un futuro desarrollado en dimensiones humanas, y sostenible, no reside sólo en las tecnologías sino, fundamentalmente, en las prácticas sociales tanto individuales como colectivas que de ellas se derivan (Marquina, 2018, p. 84).

  1. Al respecto, Moockus (2012), precisa que “el saber profesional es cada vez menos un saber-hacer decantado a partir de la práctica profesional y sus tradiciones y es cada vez más el resultado de investigaciones especializadas relativamente autónomas con respecto a la práctica profesional ordinaria. Sociológicamente esa cientifización de las profesiones se expresa en el hecho de que prácticamente cada comunidad profesional empieza a reestructurarse en torno a su núcleo más cualificado, que se convierte progresivamente en una comunidad cuasi-disciplinaria orientada hacia la investigación”. (p. 86 en Venegas, Esquivel y Turpo-Gebera, 2019, p. 451- 452)
  2. Vallejo, C. (1937). Los nueve monstruos –  Poemas Humanos 1923 – 1938.Recogido en César Vallejo Poesías completas. Editorial Losada, 1949.  Trianarts [on line] 
  3. Henk Borgdorff (2005) diferencia entre la investigación sobre las artes, la investigación para las artes y la investigación en las artes. A esta última se refiere cuando habla de la indagación que articula el proceso creativo con la propuesta artística. Para él, este tipo de investigación se refiere cuando se habla de la reflexión en la acción. En realidad pienso que los artistas realizamos los tres tipos de investigación a lo largo de nuestros procesos. Investigamos sobre las artes cuando buscamos referentes visuales o técnicos. También investigamos para las artes cuando exploramos materiales o nos adiestramos en el manejo de técnicas. Pero esos se dan como pasos previos o al margen del proceso creativo en sí.
  4. Manning, E., & Massumi, B. (2014). Thought in the Act: Passages in the Ecology of Experience. University of Minnesota Press.
  5. Damasio, A. (2010). Y el cerebro creó al hombre: ¿cómo el cerebro pudo generar emociones, sentimientos y el yo? Ediciones Destino.
  6. Machado A. (1917). Proverbios y cantares XXIX. Campos de Castilla.


Arechavala, R. (2001). Las universidades de investigación: la gran Ausencia en México. Revista de la Educación Superior  (30) 118, abril – junio 2001, 1 – 5

Gutiérrez, I; Peralta, H.; y Fuentes, H. (2019). Integración de la investigación y la enseñanza en las universidades médicas. Educación Médica, (20), 1, January–February 2019, 49-54, 

Marquina, O. (2021). Cartografía de los procesos creativos en las artes visuales: más allá de la representación artística en la pintura limeña de hoy. [Tesis de Doctorado] Escuela de Posgrado, Programa de Doctorado de Antropología, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. 

Vega, R. (1999). Boyer, Ernest L. Una propuesta para la educación superior del futuro México, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Azcapotzalco, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1997, 163 Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Educativos (México), (XXIX), 4, 3° y 4° trimestres 1999, 161-165 

Venegas, V., Esquivel, J. y Turpo-Gebera, O. (2019). Reflexiones sobre la investigación educativa y la investigación formativa en la universidad peruana. Revista Conrado, 15 (70), octubre 2019, 444 – 454. 

Orietta Marquina
Miembro fundador

Esta insignia especial tiene el honor de ser entregada a lxs integrantes de la primera edición del Lab, quienes no solo evidenciaron rigurosidad académica durante el proceso de investigación, sino también valentía y perseverancia para aventurarse a ser parte de nuestra primera comunidad de investigadorxs. Quienes posean esta insignia tienen la oportunidad de incorporarae como parte del equipo organizador. Siempre serán bienvenidxs y recordadxs por toda la comunidad de Comunica Investiga Lab.

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