Colombian Truth Commission reaches final phase of digital media file transfer thanks to collaborations with team of Notre Dame data scientists

June 1, 2017; Graffiti in Bogota Colombia, translates to: “Peace is Ours.” (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Hay futuro si hay verdad (“There is a future if there is a truth”) reads the introductory title on the landing page for a digital platform that reports on the atrocities and human rights violations that occurred over five long decades of armed conflict in Colombia.

The digital platform is hosted by the University of Notre Dame as part of an ongoing  collaboration between La Comisión de la Verdad (the Colombian Truth Commission) and Notre Dame’s Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society. With contributions from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, the Clingen Family Center for the Study of Modern Ireland, and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, The Legacy Project was established in January of 2023 in order to ensure that these narratives and memories can be preserved and accessible worldwide. A final meeting on Notre Dame’s campus in the spring of 2023 signaled the end of a three-year process of transferring the 200,000 audiovisual and textual materials to Notre Dame’s servers.

Notre Dame has committed to make the materials available in perpetuity in support of Colombia’s peace process and to encourage future humanitarian, social science, and data science research. 

Josefina Echavarría Alvarez, director of the Peace Accords Matrix (PAM) program at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Nitesh Chawla, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and founding director of the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society facilitated the transfer of information from Columbia to the University of Notre Dame. Chawla, who first flew to Columbia to meet with members of the Truth Commission during the initial phases of the project, recognized the importance of the diligent work of members of the Colombian team. He explained, “Their work serves as a record of a point in time of humanity. We cannot let that go asunder.”   

Nitesh Chawla and Lucy Family Institute staff meet with Truth Commission team, March 2023

A March 2023 visit to the University of Notre Dame by the Columbian tech team of the Truth Commission helped solidify many of the details needed to finalize the transition of the platform to Notre Dame’s servers, including the facilitation of licensing and rights management of the materials. Matthew Sisk, associate professor of the practice in the Lucy Family Institute, has led the efforts in migrating the complex array of digital information, which he views as, “essential in providing an archive of truth to the world. The materials are already used in educational settings throughout Columbia. Now, they will be available for people everywhere.”

Researchers from across the globe will now be able to explore the chronicles of Colombian citizens who recorded their personal experiences, suffering, and visions for peace.

The archives are free for use and available here: Link


Christine Grashorn, Communications Specialist
Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.4856 / @UNDResearch

About the Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society

The Lucy Family Institute for Data & Society is a hub for students, faculty, postdoctoral and visiting scholars, and staff to explore how data can be harnessed for societal benefit. We act as an incubator for data research as well as a liaison to the government and business communities. Our mission is to enable a positive impact on society and individual lives through innovative domain-informed and data-driven methods and applications.