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ASU launches North American transborder studies center


February 09, 2007

What are the economic and cultural impacts of having an immigrant population? What are the best ways to move goods across North America? What are the quality-of-life issues faced by those living in border towns?

These and many other questions will drive the work of a new tri-national center headquartered at ASU.

The North American Center for Transborder Studies (NACTS) brings together research faculty from Canada , the United States and Mexico to collaborate with local communities, governmental officials and public agencies on challenging issues associated with border regions. It aims to influence global consideration of border issues by contributing a collaborative North American research-based perspective.

According to ASU officials, it is the only organization of its kind.

“To our knowledge, no other center in North America focuses attention on the three North American countries,” says Alan Artibise, executive dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and dean of the college's Division of Social Sciences. “Several other centers exist, but they tend to focus on Canada-U.S or U.S.-Mexico relationships. NACTS is focused on all three countries and the issues that face them.”

The North American Center for Transborder Studies exemplifies ASU President Michael Crow's vision for ASU to forge partnerships with peer institutions around the world and make an institutional commitment to global engagement.

“ASU's faculty is poised to look at what may seem like ‘old' questions in new and challenging ways, with transdisciplinary collaboration,” says Amira De la Garza, acting director of the North American Center for Transborder Studies. “The idea of addressing the concept of North American collaboration is challenging and has aroused a growing number of scholars on ASU's campuses to look at border issues in ways that are innovative and progressive – with the promise of contributing to global scholarship that is embedded in the communities affected by the very issues we address. Although we're ‘on the border' literally, so to speak, it's the new intellectual entrepreneurial attitude that we're trying to shape that makes ASU the type of institution where such a project can root itself and grow.”

The center will provide multiple perspectives and have four key policy areas of research:

• Immigration and social policy – From the economic and cultural effects of international migration to balancing concerns about justice and security, NACTS is committed to advancing research on 21st century legal, institutional and policy issues on borders.

• Health and quality of life – The center embraces the challenge of working with governmental agencies and community-based organizations to research, discuss and make efforts to improve the health and quality of life of border populations.

• Environmental issues across borders – NACTS joins a host of other agencies and nonprofits in researching environmental issues and it will work with its partners to provide public forums that address and respond to the need for sustainable development.

• Social and cultural issues of border regions – NACTS is committed to scholarship that delves into the unique nature of social problems affecting border populations. Research will examine notions of hybridity while simultaneously considering complex cultural histories.

Additionally, NACTS is building a research focus on economics and transportation, led by Stephen Blank, advisory board member and research fellow, and professor of international business and management at Pace University 's Lubin School for Business. He is the founder of the Pan American Partnership for Business Education.

NACTS has established an advisory board under the leadership of board chair Raul Rodríguez, former chief executive officer of North American Development Bank. One of the first activities will be the board's inaugural meeting this semester.

NACTS also is collaborating with Colegio de la Frontera (COLEF), a Tijuana-based think tank, and York University in Canada to debut its perspectives at the international conference on borders, which will be held in Ensenada in May. More than 500 scholars from throughout Latin America and other world nations will attend this conference.

Three faculty representatives and advisory board members of the North American Center for Transborder Studies – Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez from ASU, Daniel Drache from York University and Rodolfo Cruz Piñeiro, president of COLEF – will present their visions of the collaborative work ahead at the international conference.

For more information, visit the NACTS Web site at (www.asu.edu/clas/nacts).