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Announcing the Trans-Border Opportunities Certificate Program, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018TOPICS: AlumniConferences and WorkshopsFaculty and StaffStudent SuccessUS-Mexico Border

TBO students at the Pasaje Rodriguez, Tijuana
begin quoteYou can’t really understand the phenomena that shape the border without getting into the physical spaces and meeting the people who shape them, face to face.

Learn to build bridges, identify new cross-border possibilities, and tap the enormous creative energy of the San Diego-Tijuana region. In the Kroc School’s Trans-Border Opportunities Certificate Program (TBO), you will gain the tools and knowledge to be part of a dynamic and prosperous cross-border future.

The first ever TBO was a smash hit last summer. A diverse array of students – including lawyers, social workers, engineers, teachers, legislative staffers, a Coast Guard officer, and a seasoned diplomat – enjoyed a six-week immersion in cross-border politics and culture. The idea of the course was to provide working professionals with the tools and experience to better engage with the border, to help them see the border as a vibrant and dynamic space, an opportunity, rather than a crisis or a call to arms in an overheated political environment.

For summer 2018, we have expanded the offering of classroom seminars and field trips, created new opportunities to interact with the experts, and added an intensive leadership development program for those interested in taking the experience to the next level.

The content and structure of the course is divided into a series of ten Wednesday evening dinner seminars here at the University of San Diego, and eight day-long field trips (on select Fridays and Saturdays). To earn the certificate, participants will complete five classroom seminars and four field trips. Extra classroom seminars can be taken at no additional cost. 

Five Key Concepts

The classroom seminar and field trips will frame the border through five key concepts:

  • POLITICS – stakeholders, structures and rhetoric
  • PEOPLE – immigrants, refugees and citizens
  • PRODUCTS – licit and illicit trade and business
  • PLACES – ecology, environment and growth
  • CULTURE – nexus, hybridization and dynamism

Talking the Talk

The course is designed to expose the students to high-impact practitioners who can speak about pressing cross-border issues in first person. The TBI team works to provide relevant context and data to set the stage for our guest speakers and to relate their work to the central themes explored in the course. But, we always place a premium on first-person testimonials.

This summer, our students will meet with law enforcement officers, human rights activists, immigration lawyers, environmental scientists, entrepreneurs, craft brewers, architects, elected officials, scholars, artists, and others. Our students will have the chance to not just access local leaders’ stories, but to ask those leaders questions, to probe their experiences and explore how they related to our students’ lives and work.

Walking the Walk

The field seminars are designed to allow our students to experience some of the physical spaces that define the border and the relationships it shapes. Whether it’s the desolation of the desert and the physical barriers at the border, or the dynamism and hybridity of downtown Tijuana and Barrio Logan, you can’t really understand the phenomenon that shape the border without getting into the physical spaces. And the controversies that shape how we frame the border come alive when you see them in person and meet with the people at the center of these issues in their own spaces—whether its immigration and drugs, ecology and culture, or economic growth and gentrification. 

Learning Outcomes

Students in the TBO will cultivate a rich and nuanced understanding of the border region through immersion in cutting edge-content and experiential learning. The challenge to look at the border as an opportunity rather than a crisis will also sharpen their ability to:

  • Engage in productive cross-cultural dialogue
  • Think and design on an empathetic human scale
  • Analyze current events through a critical lens

In addition to the specific substantive content of each seminar, each of the units will include a set of common practical tools for understanding cross-border relationships:

  • How to access and mobilize government databases and other credible sources of public information to make informed decisions about border issues
  • How to identify local stakeholders and gateway institutions currently working on border issues
  • How to understand the complex physical and human geography of the border through maps and other data visualizations
  • How to examine the effect the structural realities of the border have on individual human lives through biographies and personal narratives

Get Started

The TBO has been an amazing experience for us at the Kroc School, and we continue to learn both from our various hosts and guests, and from the terrific and diverse group of students we’ve attracted so far. This kind of experiential learning and collaboration is at the core of what we do, and we will continue to explore the opportunities of our unique and vibrant cross-border region. Join us for the next round!

Registration is open. There’s a $100 discount for registering by May 1st, and a 25% discount for non-profits and members of the USD community (including alumni).

Learn even more about the program. 

We are very happy to answer any questions you may have. Please write to us:



Ev Meade
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Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


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