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TBI Kicks off Certificate Program at the Tec. de Monterrey in Culiacán, Sinaloa

Wednesday, January 25, 2017TOPICS: Faculty and StaffFieldworkUS-Mexico Border

120 people registered for TBI's Diplomado in Culiacán, Sinaloa (Mexico)120 people registered for TBI's Diplomado in Culiacán, Sinaloa (Mexico)
begin quoteThey are hungry for new solutions to the seemingly intractable problems of violence and corruption, and they’re open to news kinds of partnerships with U.S. institutions that break from the stale, top-down models of the Cold War and the War on Drugs

Last weekend, the Trans-Border Institute (TBI) launched our second full certificate program in Applied Peace Education in Culiacán, Sinaloa (Mexico).  Hosted by the local campus of the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (the Tec.), more than 120 registered for the course, dozens more are on a waitlist, and we had to move to a larger meeting space in order to accommodate the crowd. 

The participants come from three groups: professors and students from the Tec., the leaders of local NGOs, and public servants.  They are hungry for new solutions to the seemingly intractable problems of violence and corruption, and they’re open to news kinds of partnerships with U.S. institutions that break from the stale, top-down models of the Cold War and the War on Drugs 

When TBI Director Ev Meade took to the stage to begin the first module, the energy level was palpable and it remained high through four hours of seminar on Friday evening, and six more on Saturday. 

The first module in the certificate program “Ser Humano, Tener Derechos” explores the human side of human rights – how a greater understanding of human nature helps to shape our expectations for peace and justice, and to design interventions that leverage our unique strengths and weaknesses.  The core principles we test in this module hold that lethal violence is neither natural nor inevitable, and human beings have an inherent capacity for empathy.

On Saturday, we did a group exercise probing the relevance of the three elements of the historical evolution of empathy to contemporary Culiacán – interest-based international law, a secular understanding of the human body, and abstract equality.

We then watched the 2015 HBO documentary Antes de que nos olviden [before we are forgotten]. We favor this particular documentary for two reasons.  First, it includes commentary from some of Mexico’s best known cultural and political figures, and thus it’s a great catalyst for discussion.  Second, and more important, the heart of the film consists of firsthand accounts of violence and from victims’ family members, and their struggles to get a modicum of truth and justice.  The film brought many participants to tears, and the experience of watching it together gave a sense of mission and urgency to the remainder of the seminar.     

Veteran local journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas joined us to lead a discussion of the film and to relate it the specific experience of violence in Culiacán.  With his signature style – a muted, languid delivery, peppered with local slang, and always with a wry sense of humor – Javier explained what it’s like to interview and write about victims’ families and survivors, the crushing uncertainty that forced disappearances impose upon the family members of the disappeared, and the dangers facing those who try to hold the authorities accountable.

We spent the final three hours on Saturday afternoon on a design challenge.  After dividing into small groups we challenged participants to design a solution that would help to prevent forced disappearances and to assist victims’ families in their quest for truth, justice, and healing.  Half of the groups developed solutions based on humanitarian principles, the other half based on human rights principles.  We imposed fairly tight time and budgetary constraints on the exercise, and most of the groups quickly realized that they needed to figure out how to leverage existing resources and generate public support in order to stretch their start-up funds and create a successful project.

It was a great start. 

What’s next?

The second module, “Ser Ciudadano, Hacer Paz” takes place February 3 and 4.

How can I get involved? 

Take a class – USD students can register for a TBI or Kroc School Class where you will participate in one of our peacebuilding certifcate or seminar programs for credit.  Check out PJS 493/593 in the USD catalog or drop us a line:

Design and lead one of the modules – USD faculty and community partners with relevant content and expertise can join the TBI team to help us present top-notch content in our seminars. Contact TBI Director Ev Meade:

Give – Presenting TBI’s peacebuilding  programs involves cultivating a broad mix of local partners, complex logistics, and cutting-edge content, all of which depend upon private donations.  Help us continue to improve and take the work to new audiences!


Ev Meade
(619) 218-5946

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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