Program excursions are a very important part of the learning process with the Border Studies Program. The travel seminars and excursions are intended to enhance students understanding about border conflicts in both ecological and social spheres, as well as to take advantage of the natural and human diversity of the border experience.
Required program excursions are designed to compliment the academic work students are engaged with in the borderlands. The Spring 2011 excursions included a trip to Altar, Sonora, several trips to Nogales, Sonora, and a trip to El Paso, Texas.
The first semester excursion is a visit to small towns in the Mexican state of Sonora, very important staging points for migrants and goods crossing the U.S./Mexico border. Migrants from throughout Mexico and Central America pass through Sonora as they prepare to continue their journey north. This excursion may include a night at a migrant shelter, a day-long service project, visits to the desert where many people travel north, conversations with migrants, or opportunities to collaborate with activist groups. Students come away from this excursion with a much deeper understanding of the challenges that face migrants as they move northward.
The second excursion will be the extended travel seminar in Guatemala and southern Mexico to visit communities that have been affected by migration. The travel seminar on migration and will allow participants to visit with local communities, organizations, and individuals that have responded to migration and the global economy in a variety of ways in Guatemala and the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.
The third excursion of the fall semester is to a comparative location on the US-Mexico border. The goal of this excursion is to provide students with a window into a different border reality than that which they experience in the southern Arizona borderlands. This trip may include visits with academics, activists, and government officials. This excursion may also include day-long service projects or opportunities to collaborate with activist groups.In the past, this trip was left to be determined during the semester with input from the students. In spring 2009 the students chose to travel west to Yuma and San Diego. Other options, such as Douglas/Agua Prieta, are also possible. Options and final decisions may depend on security issues or other factors, including timely events.
Program staff may arrange optional excursions to important historical/cultural sites and areas of natural beauty in the local area. For example, groups have traveled to the top of Mount Lemmon for sweets from the famous pie shop, to Nogales to visit with Border Patrol, and to the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans alongside the beach in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. These excursions are optional and students may be asked to pay some of their own expenses.