top of page


above: Border wall at the Mexico-US border in Texas

Source: StockPhotos

About The Program

The Border Studies Program provides students with an opportunity to observe and analyze the rich culture and complex challenges faced by migrants and communities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, an area that includes Brownsville and McAllen, Texas, and Matamoros and Reynosa, Mexico. Conversations with a wide variety of stakeholders will help participants understand the different emotional perspectives, political debates, and policy challenges. Our research topics will include migrant and community health during the COVID-19 pandemic, migrant access to information and resources, and historical and current policies and their impact on migrants and local communities. Our students will experience interdisciplinary collaboration, engagement with diverse communities that may be politically, socially, economically, and otherwise different from their own, peer-to-peer learning, and project-based research and discussions. We encourage students to think practically, compassionately, and imaginatively about the complex challenge of migration and forced displacement.    

The Mexico-U.S. Border Studies Program will offer its 2022 Winter Intensive from January 3 – 14, in partnership with Refugee Services of Texas and the Rio Valley Relief Project. Those accepted into the program will begin readings, discussions, and pre-Intensive seminars in November of 2021, and discussions and project development will continue throughout the spring semester for students interested in participating in the Hub Co-Curricular 194 (which offers one Hub unit in “Individual in Community” for BU students).  During the two weeks of the intensive in January, conditions permitting selected students will be traveling to Texas to collaborate with our partners on the ground directly and to conduct in-person interviews with community stakeholders. Some of the discussions and interviews they will carry out in Texas will also be recorded and made available online for anyone interested in this topic. If travel is not safe or possible due to the pandemic, the program design will be slightly adjusted to allow for online collaboration instead.

The deadline to apply is November 1, at 5pm (EST). 


Question, concerns, thoughts?  Please contact our Executive Director, Marina Lazetic at

Program Overview

The Border Studies program will start with a series of pre-departure seminars and discussions. These sessions will be held weekly starting in early November and running until mid-December. 

The topics to be covered include: 

  • Program Overview: with the Initiative on Forced Displacement Team (November 8) 

  • US Resettlement and Asylum System – The Role of NGOs (November 15) 

  • Ethics and Borders (November 22) 

  • Local Perspectives from Texas (November 29) 

  • Journey and Asylum Process Challenges (December 6) 

  • Research Methods and Interviewing (December 13) 

Border Studies Program Schedule 

(Tentative and subject to change)

Week 1: January 3 - 7

Day 1:

January 3

History of the Lower Rio Grande region

Format: Short lectures and discussions and a walking exploration of important places 

Day 2:

January 4

Causes of Migration: Push & Pull Factors (Demographics and politics of immigration at the southern border)

Format: Short lectures and discussions 

Day 3:

January 5

Asylum Seeker Journeys and Missing Migrants

Day 4:

January 6

Asylum Application Process and Impact 

Format: Interviews with individuals involved in the asylum process as legal representatives or decision-makers 

Day 5:

January 7

 Research in Complex Environments: Interviewing, Focus Groups, Sensitive Conversations

Format: Workshops with the IFD team and NGOs providing assistance in the shelters 

Day 6:

January 8

Volunteering with Local Partners at Shelters

Day 7:

January 9

Volunteering with Local Partners at Shelters

Format: Variable

Format: Interview with an asylee and NGOs working in the region

Format: Variable

Week 1: January 3 - 7

Volunteering and Community Assistance (pitfalls and challenges)

Format: Discussion and reflections on local and global volunteering, voluntourism, “White Savior Industrial Complex,”;  Sharing and digesting observations collected in a journal

Day 2:

January 11

Diaspora engagement and local community organizing

(With a focus on central and south American diaspora)

Format: Historical context, economic, political and ethical dimensions of diaspora engagement, challenges and current status. 

Day 1:

January 10

Day 3:

January 12

The Border Wall controversy and local community response 

Format:  Conversations with local people and visits to worksites 

Day 4:

January 13

 Environment and the Border 

A trip to American Butterfly Center  and conversations about their work to protest the construction of the border wall, observations of migration patterns, butterfly art

Day 5:

January 14

Critical Analysis of the Border Regime 

Format: Reflections and closing discussions 

bottom of page