Officials from Mexico and the United States will meet at the University of Arizona next week to explore cross-border collaborations as part of a bilateral initiative established by President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The UA Office of Global Initiativeswill host the meeting, which will focus primarily on innovation and research opportunities.
The event is the sixth and final meeting being held as part of the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research (Foro Bilateral sobre Educación Superior, Innovación e Investigación, or FOBESII for short). Obama and Peña Nieto established the forum in May 2013 as a way to expand opportunities for educational exchanges, scientific research partnerships and cross-border innovation for both countries.
Through the Bilateral Forum, the U.S. and Mexican governments seek to bring together government, the higher education community, the private sector and civil society sectors to promote education and research cooperation. Another important goal is to encourage broader access to quality post-secondary education especially for traditionally underserved students in both countries, as well as providing scientific, technology, engineering and mathematics education – or STEM – opportunities. The program also hopes to expand student, scholar and teacher exchanges, increase joint research in areas of mutual interest and share best practices in higher education and innovation. A portion of prior meetings held under the program have focused on second language acquisition.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for both nations to develop really for the first time, a common strategy on many important issues. The University of Arizona is honored to have the privilege to serve in this effort," said Mike Proctor, vice president for global initiatives at the UA. "The overarching strategy is aimed at enhancing the position of Mexico and the U.S. as partners in the global economy."
The forum – happening Monday and Tuesday – is designed to focus on four main pillars, including increasing academic mobility, strengthening language acquisition, promoting greater workforce development, and expanding joint research and innovation.
The first five meetings were held across the U.S. and Mexico, and focused on topics ranging from promoting student exchange to creating ideas for increasing academic mobility. The sixth meeting, dedicated to research and innovation, will be held Monday and Tuesday at the UA, bringing together representatives from government agencies, higher education, industry and non-governmental organizations.
More than 400 stakeholders from the U.S. and Mexico have participated in the meetings to date, representing more than 38 universities. The U.S. delegation is led by the U.S. Department of State and includes participation from other agencies, including the departments of Education, Commerce and Energy, the National Science Foundation, and others. For Mexico, the initiative is co-chaired by the Ministries of Public Education and Foreign Relations and includes participation from the Ministries of Economy and Energy, and the National Council of Science and Technology.
Several of those attending the Bilateral Forum also will take part in a UA seminar happening this weekend at Miraval Arizona Resort, located north of Tucson. The seminar will focus on binational strategy more generally, with a deeper exploration at the Binational Forum into the focus areas of health; environment; materials and advance manufacture; and logistics and infrastructure.
During the seminar, 30 top government, academic and private sector leaders from Mexico and the U.S. will convene to discuss how the two countries can work together to ensure that a focus on innovation remains at the top of efforts around bilateral policy aimed at creating a region of prosperity. The seminar marks the transition from exploration to action and will be focused on planning, commitment and execution, according to the organizers.
"This effort of both governments is really quite unique and potentially transformative," Proctor said. "It gives our region a real opportunity to craft a coherent binational strategy for research and innovation that could influence relationships and collaborations between researchers and innovators in both countries for years to come."
The University of Arizona/Miraval Institute is a think tank founded as a partnership between the Miraval Arizona Resort and the UA to facilitate communication surrounding health, wellness and sustainability issues, which reflect core areas of strength at the UA. The inaugural institute, held April 27-29, examined how technological advances can provide healthy and productive aging beyond 100. The second event, held May 4-6, centered on innovative diagnostics for personalized medicine.
The Miraval seminar and the Binational Forum complement Obama's "100,000 Strong in the Americas" initiative, which aims to increase student mobility between the U.S. and other countries in the Western hemisphere. The forum also harmonizes with Mexico's "Proyecta 100,000," which seeks to send 100,000 Mexican students to the U.S. and bring 50,000 U.S. students to study in Mexico by 2018.
More information about the Miraval Institute is available here.