The Schar School of Policy and Government will offer Policy Challenges in Times of Crisis, a 3-credit “virtual” study abroad, that focuses on U.S.-Mexico relations. The Schar School and the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico will work together to deliver the course, which will be led by Schar School Professor Ellen Laipson, director of the Master’s in International Security program, and Jorge Morales from Monterrey Tech.
This virtual study abroad class, slated to begin Saturday, September 12, will provide an opportunity for students to hear from experts during synchronous video sessions presented in a panel platform, followed by discussions with students from the partner institution in Mexico. (View Information and registration.)
In addition, students will complete asynchronous work and collaborate on joint assignments. The four major themes of the class will focus on security and cyber security, emergency response, immigration and border issues, and leadership in politics and trust in government.
This course is important, said the organizers, because it is practically impossible to consider public policy problems from a strictly domestic perspective. Resolving binational issues often requires an understanding and reconciliation of both U.S. and non-U.S. perspectives.
“In the COVID era, we need to be creative in providing diverse learning experiences for all Schar School students,” said Laipson. “Here’s a non-traditional approach to study abroad and cross-cultural learning and an opportunity to work, online, with a Mexican institution and its students.
“It’s an opportunity to deepen the understanding of the many issues in U.S.-Mexican relations, and to broaden student exposure to the international dimensions of policymaking.”
Michal McElwain Malur, director of the Schar School’s external programs, also commented on this opportunity.
“Many students save the study abroad experience until the last semester of completing their degree—and would miss out on the opportunity—if we didn't design an innovative alternative,” said Malur. “We set out to create a meaningful, as well as academically relevant elective, for our graduate students during this time when international travel is limited.”
But an actual visit to Mexico is not out of the question.
“When international travel can resume, a non-compulsory trip—three nights, over a holiday weekend—will be offered for interested participants to travel to Mexico City to meet their fellow students, speakers, and visit our embassy for a briefing, as well as see interesting sites, such as the ruins of Teotihuacan.”
Malur also shared that Monterrey Tech’s Morales has been involved with the Schar School’s annual study abroad to Mexico since the program’s inception in 2002. His political career includes serving as governor of the state of Morelos, secretary of agriculture, mayor of Cuernavaca, as well as a federal, state, and local congressman.
“Dr. Morales has always been a good friend of the Schar School's study abroad program in Mexico, including one year lending his generosity to help raise scholarships for undergraduates to attend," she said.
All Schar School junior, senior, and master’s students are eligible and encouraged to participate in a 3-credit study abroad. More details on all Schar School offerings or how to enroll can be found online at schar.gmu.edu/studyabroad.