UNT-Jalisco Secretariat Collaboration

For almost a decade and a half, the University of North Texas (UNT) has had a productive relationship with the Secretariat of Education in the State of Jalisco, Mexico. In 2001 UNT and the Jalisco Secretariat established a collaborative agreement, and that agreement was renewed in 2005. In December 2014 the agreement was renewed and signed by L.E.P. Francisco de Jesus Ayon Lopez, Secretary of Education of Jalisco, and Dr. Neal Smatresk, President of UNT.

For the 2014 signing, UNT and the Secretariat agreed to "(a) formalize specific agreements, programs, or projects that promote effective educational strategies, leading to improved educational and cultural relations between the parties; (b) encourage the development of projects of mutual interest, as well as the exchange of experiences and good practices; develop student mobility programs with the intent of adding an international component to the curriculum for students of both the State of Jalisco and the University, and to make available intercultural and academic mobility programs for youth; (d) engage in the mobility of teaching and research personnel, and develop joint academic and scientific activities such as fairs, workshops, courses, seminars, symposia, or conferences; (e) provide access to information, publications, videos, bibliography and other materials of common interest when possible; (f) encourage development of inter-institutional research programs; (g) encourage development of e-learning and classroom programs; (h) jointly plan for educational, cultural, and artistic activities; (i) organize visits and missions; (j) any other cooperative endeavors as agreed to by the Parties. The execution of the Agreement shall not require the Parties to establish projects related to all of the above cooperation activities, nor are they obligated to collaborate in those activities where internal prohibitions exist or when prohibited by law, institutional policies or procedures."

The Jalisco Secretariat of Education supervises EC-12 education and also higher education, which includes a number of universities, normal colleges, and research centers. The state of Jalisco, which includes Guadalajara as Mexico's second largest city, is known as Mexico's "silicon valley" because of its development of the electronic industry.

With its large organizational structure, the Jalisco Secretariat oversees more than 2,250,000 students and more than 118,000 teachers. Among all the Mexican states, the state of Jalisco stands out in its efforts to accomplish a global presence and establish international relations. Its mission includes "internationalization strategies," which emphasize mutual understanding (political, cultural, and academic) as well as capacity building. Essential to Jalisco's international strategies are the following: focus on priority areas in education policy; networking with other ministries, governments, and institutions; attention to comparative approaches and display of innovations or areas for improvement; and promotion of a global vision through discussion of education policy.

One major facet of the UNT-Jalisco collaboration is the jointly hosted Conference on Education and Culture, which has alternated sites between UNT and Guadalajara. Recent conference themes were "Celebrating 200 Years of Mexican History and Culture" in 2011, "Creating Knowledge for the Common Good" in 2013, and "Intercultural Connections Across Borders" in 2014. The theme of the current conference in 2015 is "Cross-Border Challenges and Opportunities."