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TAMU Bush School and Law Students Travel to Mexico to Study Trade Barriers in North America

February 25, 2016

students from the Bush School of Government and Public Service and the Texas A&M Law School on trip to Mexico

Students from the Bush School of Government and Public Service and the Texas A&M Law School

In early February, students from the Bush School of Government and Public Service and the Texas A&M Law School travelled to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as a part of a year-long capstone research project studying trade barriers in North America and the effects of “Buy America” legislation. While there, students met with representatives from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in order to learn more about trade between the United States and Mexico.

“The trip to Mexico was a great opportunity for the Bush School and our Law School counterparts to learn about economic opportunities in Mexico and the relationship between Mexico and the United States,” said Isis Gaber, a second-year student who took part in the trip. “We were able to meet with individuals from various industries in Mexico, and the trip allowed us to get a feel for the rich culture of the country.”

Capstones at the Bush School are team-based, applied research projects led by a faculty member and conducted on behalf of a client organization from the public, private, or nonprofit sector. The North American Trade Barriers Capstone is conducting research on behalf of the North American Strategy for Competitiveness, a tri-national network of North American governments, businesses, and educational institutions driven by a common interest in collaboration along commercial corridors and trade networks. The capstone group includes two semi-independent teams: one researching trade barriers at the US-Mexico and US-Canada border and among US states along I-35 and a second team researching “Buy America” legislation and its effects on American consumers. The capstone is led by Dr. Jeryl Mumpower, head of the Public Service and Administration Department, and Executive Professor William Henning of the Law School.

The North American Trade Barriers Capstone marks the first time the Bush School has partnered with the Texas A&M Law School for a capstone project. While the Law School does not offer a capstone course, students are enrolled in a special topics course that meets during the same time and day as the Bush School capstone group. The combined team includes eight students from the Bush School and five students from the Law School who meet each week through teleconferencing and occasional visits to the Bush School campus in College Station and the Law School campus in Fort Worth. Bush students involved in the capstone include James Dean, Ben Dierker, Isis Gaber, Stephanie Gullo, Rachel Marsh, Fatima Riyaz, Cinthya Roberto, and Ryan Self. Law students involved in the special topics course related to trade barriers include Thomas Connally, Gregory Franklin, Jessica Lesnau, Charles Lincoln, and Michael Sankey.

The first day of the trip included a visit to one of the largest regional industrial parks in Mexico, Guanajuato Inland Port, which houses companies from a multitude of industries and is in close proximity to major rail, air, and highway transportation. Following a presentation by representatives of the Port and COFOCE (an agency of the State of Guanajuato, with public and private partners, designed to promote international trade), students took a tour of the industrial park complex, which spans seventy-six acres with sixty-nine companies in operation.

The following two days were filled with presentations and meetings with leaders from the region’s education, business, agricultural, and automotive industries. Among the presenters was a representative from the Guanajuato State Economic Development Office and a staff member from Mr. Lucky Vegetables, one of the largest vegetable producers in Mexico. Students and faculty members were able to end the trip with a visit to a UNESCO world heritage site and the city center of San Miguel de Allende.

While in San Miguel de Allende, students and faculty from the Bush School and Law School stayed at Hacienda Santa Clara (HSC), a study abroad campus partnering with Texas A&M University. HSC is a 150-year-old restored hacienda located on 344 acres just outside San Miguel de Allende and houses dormitories, classrooms, a chapel, and an art collection that includes original works from Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Many of the week’s activities, including the presentations and site visits, were coordinated by the HSC staff, who have a broad array of connections with the region’s cultural, business, and civic leaders.

Dr. Jeryl Mumpower said he felt the trip proved to be very beneficial for the research the students were conducting.

“The trip to San Miguel de Allende provided an excellent opportunity for Bush students to hear the perspectives of individuals from a variety of industries and state agencies within Mexico,” said Mumpower. “Students were also able to engage in ‘the other education’ by learning to interact with professionals from different cultures and backgrounds while overcoming language barriers in order to understand important issues related to trade.”

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