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Center for Mexico and Latin American Studies FAQ

What is the purpose of the Center?

The purpose of the Center is to promote the exchange of students and faculty, as well as to allow for research collaboration between the two institutions to the benefit of both regions. The Center also will promote multicultural activities that will be open to the public at large.

Who oversees the Center?

The Center for Mexico and Latin American studies will be housed in CSUN’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences but is open to all faculty and students at the university. The Center’s first director will come from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The director’s area of research will focus on Mexico or Latin America. An appointed advisory board will be composed of the Center director, the director of UNAM’s Center on Mexican Studies, two faculty from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences who research on Mexico or Latin America, a member of the Chicano/Chicana Studies department, a member of the Central American Studies department, CSUN’s director of the Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) program and two members of the community.

How was the Center developed?

In recent years, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) has established four centers with different universities (the Sorbonne in Paris, France; the Institute Cervantes in Madrid, Spain; the National University of Costa Rica and Beijing’s University of Foreign Studies) and had been looking to partner with a U.S. institution. Given the strong connections between the city of Los Angeles and Mexico, a center based in the Los Angeles-area was a natural partnership. California State University, Northridge (CSUN) established a relationship with UNAM through its College of Social and Behavioral Sciences’ engagement with UNAM’s Center on Mexican Studies by co-sponsoring a number of cultural events and speakers that were offered in Los Angeles at other universities, including UCLA. Given the high level of interest by CSUN in promoting these events on Mexico with UNAM, the number of faculty at CSUN who conduct research on Mexico and Latin America, and the similar mission of CSUN and UNAM, a discussion between CSUN and UNAM officials on how to develop a more formal working relationship between the two institutions was launched. Those talks led to the desire to partner and create a center on Mexico and Latin America. Dialogue between CSUN and UNAM administrators took place on the feasibility of such a center. Before any agreement was signed, UNAM administrators visited CSUN to finalize details on the operation of the Center and addressed a meeting of faculty across the university’s colleges.

Center Timeline

The Center and the agreement with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) initially was developed from an existing relationship between CSUN’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (CSBS) and UNAM’s Center of Mexican Studies. UNAM approached the college about establishing the partnership.

  • 2012-13 – CSBS sponsors various activities with UNAM. UNAM suggests developing more formal relationship.
  • Spring 2013 – Provost approves Dean of CSBS to enter discussions with UNAM for the partnership.
  • Summer 2013 – Development of objectives and administrative management of proposed Center.
  • August 2013 – Dean of CSBS consults with the Dean of the College of Humanities about the proposed Center and the opportunity for faculty from the Chicana/o studies department and Central American studies program to be involved.
  • September 2013 – Dean of CSBS and UNAM discuss the structure and potential collaboration of the proposed center. Dean of CSBS presents proposal to Provost who expresses support for the Center. Arrangements are made for visit of UNAM administrators to visit CSUN and speak with faculty.
  • Oct. 30, 2013 – The Dean of CSBS invites faculty in her college and the faculty of Chicana/o studies and the Central American studies program to discuss the proposed Center with UNAM representatives visiting CSUN on Nov. 12.
  • Nov. 12, 2013 – Meeting with UNAM representatives at CSUN. Attendees number about 50 and include faculty from CSBS, Chicana/o studies, and Central American studies. Based on the positive outcome of the meeting, the agreement with UNAM and the proposed Center moves forward.
  • November 2013-February 2014 – Provost and Dean meet with faculty interested in the Center, details regarding the Center are finalized, and Provost’s Council votes to support the agreement and establishment of the Center.
  • March 3, 2014 – At a ceremony at UNAM’s Mexico City campus, CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison and UNAM Rector José Narro Robles sign the partnership agreement to establish the center. Numerous dignitaries attended the ceremony, including Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and Carlos Sada, Counsel General of Mexico in Los Angeles.
  • Fall 2014 – The first major event of the new Center is a planned festival featuring Latin American film that will take place at CSUN in fall 2014.

How will the Center affect the Los Angeles region?

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who joined CSUN President Dianne F. 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.”

When will it launch?

Following the signing of the partnership agreement at UNAM in Mexico City on Monday, March 3, the director will be announced, and the board will be appointed. It is hoped the first major event of the new Center will be a festival featuring Latin American film in the fall.

Can students participate?

Students at both institutions can take part in semester exchange programs, work as research students and attend activities held by the Center.

What role will faculty play in the Center?

CSUN faculty will have the opportunity to spend time at UNAM teaching or conducting research and partnering with UNAM faculty on joint research endeavors including grants and contracts.

How is the Center funded?

Both CSUN and UNAM will cover operational expenses of the Center and co-sponsor cultural activities. It is also hoped that joint grant and research contracts will make the Center self-sustaining. No general fund dollars will be used for Center expenses.

UNAM Background

UNAM is a Public, autonomous and secular university
The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) originated as the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico, the first university in Latin America, established in 1551. By 1910 it became the National University of Mexico. In 1929, by obtaining its own Organic Law, it is established as Autonomous. The vital purposes of this public, autonomous and secular institution are education, research and the diffusion of scientific and humanistic knowledge.

As the country's leading center of knowledge and technology, UNAM is the largest and most important university in Mexico and has long been a protagonist in its history and formation. Many of its graduates have had definitive influence in the political and socio-economic configuration of the country. As a national institution, UNAM is a space in which liberty, respect, tolerance and dialogue are practiced every day. Plurality of ideas and thought are appreciated as an asset and never considered a weakness.

UNAM is recognized world-wide as an institution of excellence. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, it is the only Latin American university currently ranked among the 200 top universities in the world. In addition to its main location in the country's capital, UNAM carries out its mission across many satellite campuses and facilities in almost every state of the Mexican Republic and beyond its borders: in the United States, Canada and Spain. The beauty and uniqueness of its Mexico City campus ­known as Ciudad Universitaria ­ have caused it to recently be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its functionality and outstanding paintings, sculpture and architecture.

Currently UNAM serves more than 330,000 students, of which nearly 27,000 are enrolled in graduate programs. To meet this huge demand, UNAM relies on a faculty of 37,610 educators, of which 11,889 are full-time professors. A hallmark of UNAM's mission is creating access to higher education. The university offers programs from doctorate through preparatory programs to enable youths to reach higher education.

CSUN Background

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.

CSUN has the largest Chicano/a studies department in the country and the only Central American studies department. The Center will complement and enhance the university's active research interests in these areas.

How can I get more information?

More information will be posted on the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences website as it becomes available: www.csun.edu/social-behavioral-sciences.