Officials from California State University, Northridge and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), one of the oldest and highest-ranked academic institutions in Latin America, are partnering to create a Los Angeles-based center that will focus on scholarship and research on Mexico and Latin America.
Given Southern California’s rich Mexican and Latin American heritage and CSUN’s reputation for ethnic diversity, officials with both universities said the partnership — which will include shared research projects and multi-cultural studies as well as opportunities for student and faculty exchanges and collaborations — was “a natural.”
“This is an incredible opportunity for both our institutions,” said CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison. “UNAM and CSUN have very similar missions: providing a quality education that is accessible by people from broadly diverse ethnic, social and economic backgrounds, with faculty who are respected scholars in their fields dedicated to teaching, service and research.
“This partnership will not only benefit scholarship at our respective universities,” Harrison said, “but it also will provide an opportunity for business and civic leaders in the region an opportunity to learn more about Mexico and Latin America and their people.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is expected to join Harrison in Mexico City for the signing of the agreement between CSUN and UNAM, hailed the partnership.
“Los Angeles has rich cultural and economic ties with Mexico,” Garcetti said. “This new center will help build relationships and pave the way for CSUN, UNAM and the city of Los Angeles to work collaboratively on projects that will benefit both regions.”
This is the fifth collaboration between the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a foreign institution of higher education, and the only one with a university in the United States. UNAM currently has centers at the Sorbonne in Paris, France; the Institute Cervantes in Madrid, Spain; the National University of Costa Rica and Beijing’s University of Foreign Studies.
Harrison and other CSUN officials are flying to Mexico City this weekend to sign an agreement formalizing the partnership, paving the way for the creation of the Center for Mexico and Latin American Studies. The center will be housed in CSUN’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and open to faculty and students in all disciplines across the campus interested in the study of Mexico and Latin America.
“Eventually, we would like to see the center open its doors to scholarship beyond our two campuses,” said Stella Theodoulou, dean of CSUN’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
The center, which opens this fall, will be housed at CSUN and accommodate scholars from both institutions, in addition to serving as a base for academics from UNAM doing research in the region.
Theodoulou said she is hoping the Center for Mexico and Latin American Studies will provide a catalyst for academic networking and exchanges with UNAM’s other centers around the globe.
The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México is one of the most recognized universities in Latin America, and one of the largest and most artistically detailed. Its main campus in Mexico City is a World Heritage site that was designed by some of Mexico’s best-known architects of the 20th century. Murals at the main campus were painted by acclaimed artists, including Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
UNAM is internationally recognized for its publications and journals on a variety of topics, including mathematics, physics, history and Latin American studies. It is also the only university in Mexico with Nobel laureates among its alumni, including Alfonso García Robles for peace, Octavio Paz for literature and Mario Molina for chemistry.
California State University, Northridge is a regionally focused, nationally recognized university serving more than 38,000 full- and part-time students in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. Founded in 1958, CSUN is among the largest universities in the nation and is ranked among the top universities for bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students.
The university has nine colleges and more than 2,000 faculty members who teach courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in 69 disciplines, master’s degrees in 58 fields and doctorates in education and physical therapy, as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Continuously evolving and changing to meet the needs of California and the nation at large, CSUN is home to dozens of acclaimed programs where students gain valuable hands-on experience working alongside faculty and industry professionals, whether in the sciences, health care and engineering or education, the arts and social sciences.