In the context of political polarization, social inequality, and a growing questioning of science, universities are essential actors for building a proactive dialogue. With this goal, the University of California (UC) Network has designed a collaboration strategy with Mexico with the goal of developing innovative, science-based, two-pronged solutions to challenges of mutual interest such as climate change, and water scarcity. , public health challenges and the drive to innovate, among many others.
Despite a new flag, Alianza MX, the University of California is seeking to nurture a long history of academic collaboration with Mexico. A delegation from the University of California recently visited Mexico City to meet with many of its partners from academia, government, civil society, and the private sector. On that occasion, cooperation agreements were ratified and strategic programs with public and private universities were defined, including UNAM, CINESTAV and IPN.
There are many examples of how UCSD researchers and their partners in Mexico have historically worked to advance scientific knowledge and academic exchange. Today, the opportunity is emerging to create binational teams with a more strategic vision on the complex problems that California and Mexico share that do not stop at borders, such as water management, climate change, and the energy transition.
Climate disruption, for example, has brought about challenges that once seemed unimaginable: intense wildfires and heat creating weather of their own, unprecedented heat waves, and thawing snow in the Sierra Nevada.
California experienced its hottest summer on record in 2021. In fact, extreme heat is one of the most deadly consequences of climate change, affecting health and well-being, from causing premature births to lower productivity, disproportionately affecting poor and minority communities.
One exciting initiative developed by Berkeley Lab scientists is smart roofing that keeps homes warm in winter and cool in summer, without consuming natural gas or electricity. This is the latest innovation for a research team working to cool the planet by making roofs, sidewalks and cars cooler even in the sun.
In the case of electric mobility, lithium is a key resource to be able to make batteries for electric cars and a severe lithium supply shortage looms as the world moves away from fossil fuels. UC Riverside and Berkeley Lab are making an effort to map California’s so-called “lithium valley” to meet lithium demand sustainably and in our region.
These science and technology solutions at UCSD are just a few examples of many others that are also being developed in Mexican universities. Because borders between nations are dividing lines that reign supreme above all else in our minds, we can meet our challenges successfully only if we do so in partnership. Universities play a crucial role in strengthening linkages and achieving equitable and sustainable development at the regional level. By strengthening the research and application of science, from a binational perspective, we will be able to build the future that our societies demand and deserve for future generations.
*Isabelle Studer He is the director of Alianza Mx, an alliance between a network of 10 universities in California and several academic institutions in Mexico, including UNAM and IPN.