The Education Collaborative: Education for Life

Liz Mestres

In 2018, a small group of activists who first met in meetings on the problem of water in our region held in the Sindicato decided to form the the Education Collaborative. Our educational focus was inspired by transformative educational projects such as the UniTierras (Universities of the Earth) that exist in various parts of Mexico—Chiapas, Oaxaca and Puebla—along with other new directions in education that seek to advance the transition to a solidarity economy based on a sustainable relationship to nature. These holistic educational approaches bring together different kinds of knowledge—including local knowledge, scientifically validated knowledge and knowledges which come from our ancestral heritage. We feel that a diversity of perspectives is needed if we are to address the gravity and complexity of the socio-environmental problems that confront us today. As well, we hope that this kind of educational work can contribute to strengthening the presence of organized society in the management of public affairs related to management of territory, water and other natural resources, food, health, and so forth.

In developing the project, the group was aware that San Miguel de Allende is home to a large and diverse collection of civil-society organizations, many of whom are focused on addressing issues related to social and/or environmental problems here in our region. Many, if not most, of these organizations also have well-developed educational programs that address various important aspects of the challenges we face. We saw our role, as contributing to placing socio-environmental concerns on the public agenda and to creating growing awareness within the community that could help advance greater citizen participation in the development of solutions.

Our work centers on themes presented in the Agenda Ambiental, developed by the University Seminar on Society, the Environment & Institutions (SUSMAI) at the UNAM. These themes include:

  • Water
  • Biodiversity
  • Forests
  • Sustainable Cities
  • Energy Transition
  • Oceans & Coasts
  • Mining
  • Agriculture, Food and Soil
  • Climate Change
  • Solidarity Economy

We began with public programs that examine one of the agenda items in collaboration with local organizations including: El Charco del Ingenio, Somos Semillas, Caminos de Agua, Via Organica, and CEDESA, among others.

With the advent of the pandemic, we moved to online webinars organized in collaboration with local organizations as well as with teachers at the Technological University of San Miguel de Allende (UTSMA) who organize their students to participate in the webinars. In the Fall of 2020, the series focused on the problems of water in our region. For the Winter-Spring 2021 semester, we are organizing a series focused on elements of a Solidarity Economy.

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