UTEP/UNAM Awarded Grant for New Study Abroad Opportunities

The University of Texas at El Paso and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) – Centro de Investigaciones sobre América del Norte (CISAN) in Mexico were awarded a grant through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to develop a study abroad program between the United States and Mexico.

UTEP and its partner university will use the $25,000 grant to develop a study abroad opportunity for nontraditional minority students to take a holistic approach to environmental and water challenges in the Mexico City metropolitan region.

The UTEP-UNAM team was one of eight Innovation Fund grant winners selected from competitors in higher education institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and the United States. The Coca-Cola Foundation-sponsored competition focused on creating new study abroad programs between the United States and Latin America in the field of environmental science, with an emphasis on water. The winners were announced during the opening reception of the Partners of the Americas’ Convention in Guadalajara, Mexico on Oct. 25.

“These awards are highly competitive,” UTEP Political Science Professor Irasema Coronado, Ph.D., said. “Our selection shows that we have established solid, working academic relationships with other institutions. Access to water and water quality are some of the challenges that we have now and will have in the future. It is important to scratch the surface of the complexities of water issues in Mexico City, and hopefully the students will be inspired to continue their research after the exchange.”

UTEP is conducting several research projects related to water, including the removal of arsenic from water, demonstrating and commercializing the Zero Discharge Desalination technology, and researching environmentally and technically feasible water treatment techniques that are economically viable and socially acceptable to residents of colonias – neighborhoods in the Texas-Mexico border region without potable (drinkable) water infrastructures.

The Innovation Fund will be able to provide 10 UTEP students who cannot take a semester or a year to study abroad to have a short-term study abroad experience for 10 days in August 2017.

Four UNAM students will then study water issues in El Paso at UTEP in November 2017.

The partnership between the two universities also will include a series of talks and workshops via Skype related to environmental issues on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas, President Barack Obama’s signature education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, is to facilitate new partnerships between higher education institutions to increase student mobility throughout the Americas to bring the number of U.S. students studying in the Western Hemisphere to 100,000 and bring 100,000 students from the Western Hemisphere to study in the United States on an annual basis by 2020. The goals of the initiative are to enhance hemispheric competitiveness, stimulate regional education cooperation, and prepare students to be more globally competent for the 21st century workforce.