With so much political discourse in our newsfeeds tending towards isolationism, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that collaboration and bridge-building continue to thrive in North America.
On the post-secondary front, relations between Canada and Mexico are expanding in positive and exciting new directions, and the University of Alberta is leading the way when it comes to building multifaceted relationships with Mexico’s governmental, post-secondary, and research institutions.
As UAlberta prepares to host Maria de la Paloma Villaseñor Vargas, the new Consul of Mexico for Alberta and Saskatchewan, on North Campus Sept. 5, here’s what you need to know about the key areas of cooperation between UAlberta and Mexico—and where the relationship may be heading next.
In 2015 the university and the Mexican government signed an agreement to form a $16-million long-term research partnership in Mexico’s growing hydrocarbon sector, building on a history of collaboration between UAlberta researchers and their Mexican colleagues in fields such as geology and engineering.
During her visit to campus, Villaseñor will hear directly from UAlberta researchers leading some of the collaborative hydrocarbon research projects funded under this agreement, which involve partners like the Mexican Petroleum Institute and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, one of the top universities in the world.
Future Energy Systems
While current UAlberta–Mexico research collaborations are focused on oil and gas, the university’s recently launched Future Energy Systems Research Institute presents the exciting possibility of working with Mexican partners on new projects aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of fossil fuels and developing new low-carbon energy systems.
Villaseñor’s campus visit will include a meeting with Future Energy Systems, executive director Stefan Scherer, and Britta Baron, U of A vice-provost (international), to discuss the potential for collaboration in areas such as renewable energy, smart grids, and biofuels.
There are already more than 90 students with Mexican citizenship pursuing undergraduate and graduate programs at the U of A, and the plan is to grow those numbers through research collaborations, continued recruitment in Mexico, and short-term study programs such as Proyecta 10,000.
An ambitious initiative of the Mexican government to send 10,000 Mexican undergraduate students and educators to study English at Canadian post-secondary institutions by 2018, Proyecta 10,000 reflects Mexico’s national push toward greater English proficiency and a shared commitment by both countries to increasing academic mobility.
In 2016 the first cohort of Proyecta 10,000 students at the U of A consisted of four people. By May 2017 that number had grown to 40 students. This fall, the university will receive its largest Proyecta 10,000 cohort yet—50 students will be coming for a month-long, intensive program facilitated by the Faculty of Extension’s English Language School that combines language classes with activities that immerse students in Canadian culture.
Feedback from participants so far has been positive, with many students expressing an interest in returning to the U of A to pursue degree programs.
Find out more
UAlberta students and researchers with an interest in closer engagement with Mexico are encouraged to attend a public talk by Villaseñor on Tuesday, Sept. 5 from 2-3 p.m., on the second floor of the Engineering Teaching and Learning Complex (ETLC). The Consul of Mexico for Alberta and Saskatchewan will present on “Opportunities for engagement with Mexico: Mobility of Students and Researchers between Mexico and Canada”.