Western joins call for North American unity

With recent trade and immigration policy shifts testing ties between the United States, Mexico and Canada, collaboration among universities in the three countries is crucial in order to address shared needs and challenges, according to a statement recently co-issued by The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), of which Western is a member.

Known as the Guadalajara Declaration, the statement – a joint declaration from the APLU, the National Association of Universities and Institutions of Higher Education and the University of Guadalajara – details the importance of strong partnerships between universities in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“Mexico, the United States and Canada have long enjoyed strong ties that enable important partnerships and collaborations of many kinds. The countries have deep economic, social, and cultural bonds. Our research universities serve as economic equalizers,” the statement reads.

“Our universities seek to unlock new discoveries that save and transform lives and develop new technologies that power economies forward. The work of our institutions has been enhanced through cross-border collaboration and a North American zone of knowledge built on relationships of trust and shared commitments to improving the lives of all.”

APLU’s membership of more than 200 institutions, includes eight Canadian universities, one association, as well as five Mexican universities. The organization’s most recent meeting was held at the University of Guadalajara, where the statement was issued.

The statement notes collaboration among universities in the three countries is beneficial for the advancement of societies through education, research, engagement and workforce development, contributing to respective economically competitive advantages.

“Our governments can and should continue to rely on universities to lead and support vital collaboration within the North American region. Dramatic shifts in trade and immigration policies are testing the bonds of our nations’ long-standing relationships and moving them into unchartered and unsettling territory. This troubles us. The need for our countries’ cooperation has never been clearer. The challenges we face are shared and must be solved collectively,” the Guadalajara Declaration notes.

“Our nations’ futures are linked, but progress doesn’t just happen. We are determined to ensure that future generations will look back on this period as the time when our collective work reached unprecedented levels in the face of headwinds.”

Western President Amit Chakma echoed the sentiments of the statement.

“It’s important for the public and our political leaders to know that universities in all three nations are committed to working collaboratively to advance teaching and research, as well as encouraging diversity of ideas on our campuses,” Chakma said. “We have long recognized that we are much stronger when we are working together.”

Western boasts deep ties with the United States, but perhaps less well known are the institution’s connections to Mexico.

From 2012-16, Western researchers co-authored and published 174 articles, meeting abstracts, reviews, proceeding papers, editorial materials or book chapters with researchers at Mexican institutions. Top five institutions with which collaborations occurred are Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas; National Institute of Cardiology Mexico; Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana; and Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública.

Seven Western faculty members have received graduate or professional degrees from a university in Mexico. In 2016-17, two undergraduate students and 28 graduate students from Mexico attended Western. There are 76 alumni living in Mexico.

Additional connections include:

  • Western has received applications from exceptional students through the Consejo Nacional De Ciencia Y Tecnologia (CONACYT), Mexican scholarship program;
  • Chemical and Biochemical Engineering’s Dr. Hugo de Lasa was elected as an Honorary Member of the Mexican Academy of Energy. His induction took place in September 2017 during the 2nd International Energy Conference in Mexico City; and
  • Western offers a Summer Academic Program in partnership with Fundación Universidad de las Américas, Puebla (UDLAP). The program includes two courses taught in English or Spanish with recreational activities and trips.