Cross-Border Programming

TBO at the border in 2017

The border is the hottest issue in American politics right now — the fate of refugees, walls, and free-trade agreements, our water supply, and our families hang in the balance. The border also links the United States to a decade-long wave of violence in Mexico as severe as the worst civil wars of the last century. For millions of us, it's also home, a place we know for its warmth, creativity and dynamism. Because at the Kroc IPJ, we see the border as an opportunity, not a crisis.

We seek to build sustainable peace in Mexico and the border region through community outreach, innovative pedagogy, and applied research. We can do this, in part, because of our close proximity to one of the busiest and most dynamic borders in the world. No other U.S. peace studies program is immersed in a border region like the Kroc School.

 

Ending Cycles of Violence

Ending cycles of violence in the border region means educating and convening to transcend the politics and prejudices that promotes violence and create injustice on both sides of the border. For instance, we created the Trans-Border Opportunities Certificate Program to introduce working professionals and non-traditional students to the dynamics of the border and the border region. 

U.S.-Mexico Border Fence

Previous educational programs have bought peacebuilders who serve prominent communities in our regions with very similar experiences of violence, but who have been segregated by the social, political, and cultural divides represented by “the border.” These included, veterans service organizations, immigrant’s rights groups, and refugee service providers. Ending cycles of violence also means educating the next generation of peacemakers and changemakers. Through field-based courses and applied research opportunities, Kroc School students can learn how they can build a more peaceful, more just border region in the future.

Catalyzing Peacebuilding Efforts 

Since 2014, we have offered free or low-cost certificate programs in areas significantly affected by violence in Mexico — like Culiacán, Sinaloa and Tijuana, Baja California. These programs serve as a teaching lab for a broad mix of students, provide incubators for local social innovations and create strong networks of peacebuilders from diverse sectors of Mexican society. TBO 2017

As part of each certificate program in Mexico, we co-design and implement a collaborative research project that mobilizes all of the participants in a common endeavor. In 2017 and 2018, we partnered with local organizations in Tijuana to document the experience of deported U.S. military veterans and their family members in long-form ethnographic interviews. In 2019, we coordinated the first-ever independent truth commission in Sinaloa, which we hope to replicate in Tijuana and elsewhere in Mexico.

In the spring of 2020, we will coordinate a positive peace documentation project, as part of the certificate program that we offer in Sinaloa. The project will help profile local success stories so they can inspire others to instigate wider social change. Underlying all of this work is a commitment to work with and learn with local peacebuilders in Mexico. This is what “applied research” means to us, and what it means to be university-based peacebuilders.