Exploring avenues for increased student mobility and research collaboration in areas such as climate change, energy sustainability as well as Indigenous issues are the core objectives of the upcoming Universities Canada mission to Mexico, happening from May 22 to 25. Following up on an initial visit by a Universities Canada delegation in 2014, the team heading to Mexico is made up of eight university presidents and other invited guests.
“The Canada-Mexico relationship is more important than ever,” said Cindy McIntyre, Universities Canada’s assistant director of international relations. “As Canada works to renew and deepen this relationship, Canadian universities’ partnerships with Mexican higher education, government and private sector organizations are an asset to be leveraged.”
Her comments were echoed by Guy Laforest, director general of École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP): “Mexico is an extremely important partner in the context of the renegotiation of NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement].”
One of Dr. Laforest’s personal objectives for the mission is to “promote research into comparative federalism and Canadian studies.” Dr. Laforest, who is also president of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, has previously presented his research in Mexico, and is due to give a lecture on federalism – his field of expertise – at the beginning of the trip.
Although ENAP currently has no partnerships with Mexico, Dr. Laforest said he is optimistic. “In keeping with my mandate, I hope to have Mexico and Mexican institutions as favoured partners,” he said. “Our objectives must be long-term.”
In addition to periods set aside for deliberations among members of the Canadian delegation and their Mexican counterparts, the schedule will include several panel discussions to explore opportunities for partnerships in various fields, such as business administration and the management of Indigenous issues in higher education.
In view of the November 2017 report entitled Global Education for Canadians: Equipping Young Canadians to Succeed at Home & Abroad, it is not surprising that student mobility will be one of the main topics on the agenda. “Two-way mobility of university students fosters the development of business, language and intercultural skills which will enable future strengthening of Canada-Mexico diplomatic and economic ties.,” said Ms. McIntyre.
Matthew Marcuccio did a student exchange in Mexico and has since graduated from Laurentian University. He testifies to the importance of this type of partnership, describing his stay – during which he studied at Universidad Panamericana in Guadalajara – as “an incredibly enriching experience, enabling me to learn and grow as a person, and helping me keep an open mind. It left me with a strong appreciation not only of Mexican culture, but also of the cultures of the other participants that I spent time with and forged friendships with.”