Border Studies Program


  • We are still accepting applications for the Spring 2015 Border Studies Program! The deadline for applying is October 17, 2014. Apply now!
  • The BSP is excited to announce that we have new staff and family member, Alisha Vasquez! Read her bio and a brief Q&A here!
  • Maddie Taterka, Contributing Editor for Autostraddle and Fall 2012 BSP Alum, recently published a piece on the detention of child migrants in Arizona.
  • Spring 2014 Border Studies Program alum Alex Cook is working this summer with migrant advocacy group Migrant Justice. Read about his work with the Vermont based organization here.
  • Marcos Ramos, Earlham grad and Spring 2013 BSP alum is spending his summer in his native Brazil after having won a Davis Project for Peace Grant for his project “Navigating Discourses of Sexuality: Resistance to Homophobia in Brazil”. Read more here.
  • Read the participants' updates from the Borderlands and follow their experiences throughout the semester at our Border Studies blog.
  • Read BSP Instructor Katie Sharar's piece for NACLA's Border Wars blog on immigration enforcement in Texas' Big Bend region.
  • Click below to check out our Facebook & Twitter pages and follow what the BSP is currently up to!
Follow Border_Studies on Twitter

Faculty & Staff

On-Site Faculty and Staff | Faculty Advisory Committee

Resident Director & On-Site Staff

Riley Merline - Resident Director


Riley Merline is the Resident Director and has been with the program since 2008. As part of his responsibilities he teaches Roots and Routes of Migration, travels with students to sites along the border, in southern Mexico and Guatemala, and is in charge of coordinating and ensuring the success of all aspects of the program. Riley holds a MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Arizona where he did research on economic development, military interventions, and the history of the US border with Mexico. Among other topics, Riley is particularly interested in exploring the ethical implications of border restrictions with BSP students. Prior to joining the Border Studies Program Riley led educational delegations in Colombia and in the Mexico-US borderlands. He enjoys gardening, bike commuting, and spending time with his wife and children.


Katie Sharar


Katie has worked with the Border Studies Program since 2010 and is beginning her fifth year as an instructor on the BSP. This year, Katie will be teaching the Toward Social Change course; coordinating field studies; and organizing and participating in travel seminars throughout the Mexico, Arizona, and Texas borderlands. Katie grew up in California, graduated from Macalester College in 2004 (and participated in the Border Studies Program, then located in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, in 2003), and earned a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Arizona in 2010. She has also worked at houses of hospitality for immigrants and refugees in El Paso and Austin; served as a genocide case observer in Guatemala; and volunteers regularly with a variety of human rights organizations in Tucson. In her free time, Katie enjoys reading, traveling, writing, and spending time in the Sonoran Desert. 



Jeff McWhorter


Jeff McWhorter joined the Border Studies Program in the summer of 2010 and has since been a part of eight semesters in the borderlands. Amongst other things, he is the coordinator of program outreach, teaches both the Towards Social Change and Roots and Routes of Migration courses, plans and facilitates program excursions and travel seminars in the borderlands and southern Mexico, as well as manages the program’s bike fleet. Jeff holds an undergraduate degree from DePauw University and Master’s degree in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations from the SIT Graduate Institute. His training and work experience is in intercultural social justice-focused education, human rights, and organizing. Jeff’s academic interests lie at the intersection of international education, solidarity, radical pedagogy, and their contribution to social change. He enjoys spending his spare time on anything with two wheels, learning new things, finding/making street art, and exploring the desert with his dog Ramona. He is originally from Nebraska.


Alisha Vasquez

Alisha Vasquez joined the Border Studies family in the fall of 2014. As a fifth-generation Tucsonan, her roots run deep in las calles de Tucson. Alisha’s political consciousness was nurtured by punk rock, which introduced her to larger sociopolitical issues. Alisha was the first person in her family to attend college. At the University of Arizona her study of ideas of identity, Chicana feminism, and neoliberalism helped her digest growing up in the Sonoran borderlands. After three years of teaching middle school humanities at the Paulo Freire Freedom School, she went to San Francisco State University to obtain a master’s degree exploring Chican@ disability and neoliberal history. In 2012 she returned home because the change she wants to make is where her roots are. Since 2012, Alisha has worked in her community on positive youth development; juvenile justice reform and prison abolition; positive identity formation; partaking in community actions against border militarization; and teaching history at Pima Community College.

The Border Studies Program has a new staff member and BSP Family member! Alisha Vasquez joined the BSP this month and we are very excited to have her as part of our equipo! Click here to read a brief Q&A with Alisha!


Rosalva Fuentes - Housing Coordinator

Rosalva Fuentes

Rosalva Fuentes is the housing coordinator for the Earlham College Border Studies Program . Originally from Hermosillo, Sonora, Rosalva has lived in Tucson for ten years and since her arrival has been very involved in working with various community groups. She was an active organizer against the anti-immigrant Proposition 200 in Arizona, was involved in the “Mi Familia Vota” movement to activate Latino voters in Arizona, and also organized a women’s program through the Tucson Community Food Bank. After organizing health care workers for SEIU, Rosalva most recently worked with American Friends Service Committee and the Southwest Institute for Research on Women to promote labor rights among the immigrant community and especially of the rights of Women workers. Rosalva is married, has three wonderful children, and looks forward to continuing to work with Border Studies students.           




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