This course will begin with a comparative review of Mexican and United States history and government, followed by study of selected health and environmental problems along the border of the United States and Mexico. Next we will study the public policies designed to address those problems. After two weeks of intensive classroom study, students will travel to the border to observe conditions and to study and undertake a service-research project related to environmental-health issues. The service project will allow students to utilize public health and environmental skills to assist low income populations in the border region, and thus learn the value of their skills in meeting health and environmental needs. Simultaneously, we will gain an appreciation of comparative approaches to meeting public health and environmental needs. Finally, students will conclude the course by preparing a written report summarizing their findings, a report designed to help communities in which we have worked clarify their needs and means to meet those needs.

This course will utilize the unique opportunity provided by Alma·s Spring Term to expose students to the great need for health and environmental professionals to serve low income populations in both the developed and developing world. It will do this by exposing students to differences in one of those rare places where the United States meets the developing world, along the Texas border with Mexico. It will compare health and environmental needs and policies and the management of policies in northern Mexican border communities with those on the U.S. side of the border. We will especially try to learn how global economic forces create special health and environmental needs and place special demands on health and environmental scientists.

Work on border environmental health needs will have multiple benefits for students. First, students will have unforgettable exposure to the complexity of data collection, technical planning, and causal analysis in public health and environmental studies. They cannot help but see the tragic consequences which can follow failure to conduct such studies. They will observe the very real differences between health and environmental needs and policies that correspond to differences in living standards. In terms often used in the study of public policy, they will see that ’policy and science matter.· They also can witness the importance for independent health and environmental scientific research of non-profit organizations, especially those linked to universities, churches, and human rights and labor rights institutions. Such institutions, along with government, sponsor much data collection, analysis, and policy advocacy work along the border which benefits the less articulate poor and the environment. Finally, students should return from their border service with more understanding of Mexican life and needs, the special burdens of women and children in a developing country, and the role of scientists in easing those burdens and addressing those needs through academic and career choices.

If you have any questions while we are on campus that cannot be addressed during class, please make an appointment during class, come to my office or leave a message at x7203 [office] or 463-6170 [home.]

There are several types of sources we will use during the term to master the information necessary to participate and benefit from the course. The sources are listed by sub- category below. Those marked with an * will be supplied free to students. Those marked ® are on reserve in the library.

A. General Background – Before enrolling in the course, every student should have read:
1. Andrew Skolnick, "Along U.S. Southern Border, Pollution, Poverty, Ignorance, and Greed Threaten Nation·s Health," JAMA, 273 (May 17, 1995), pp. 1478-1482. Note especially the references to Cynthia Lopez, James VanDerslice, and Amy Liebman, whom you will meet.
2. Kate Hendricks, et al., Primary Prevention of the Recurrence of Neural Tube Defects (Austin: Texas Department of Health, 1995).

B. Every student has been assigned a small section from one of the following four books which we need to review in order to have some understanding of the history and government of Mexico, the U.S., Texas, and Chihuahua. Each of the thirteen members of the class are to select about 100 pages from one of four books described below and become an expert on these and prepare a class (30-45 minutes) on your pages. During the first week of class, we will listen to one report after another to gain understanding of the history, politics, and socio-economic conditions in the region. At the end of that week, we will begin an intensive study of public management and then of environmental and health policies. The books are as follows:

1. Ramon Ruiz, Triumphs and Tragedy: A History of the Mexican People (New York: Norton, 1992).
The Conquest & Early Colonization 15-112
Independence and Early Republic 113-204
The U.S. War, French Occupation,
Reform and Decay 205-313
The Revolution 314-409
Modern Mexico 410-480

2. Robert Pastor and Jorge Castaneda, Limits to Friendship: The United States and Mexico (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1988).
Background and Barriers to 3-94
Friction arising from Policy & 95-194
Connections – Money & Drugs 195-282
Americanization of Mexico &
Mexicanization of the U.S. 283-376

3. Mark Wassermann, Persistent Oligarchs (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1993).
The Old Elite & the Revolution 1-90
New Leaders since the Revolution 91-174

4. Mary Beth Rogers, Cold Anger (Denton: Univ. of North Texas Press, 1990).
The Development of IAF Programs 11-103
People, Beliefs, and Methods of the IAF 104-200

C. For students without knowledge of public administration or policy, we will use B. Guy Peters, The Politics of Bureaucracy (White Plains: Longman, 1995), to gain an appreciation of comparative administration. We will read the early chapters of that book at the end of the first week.

D. Environmental and public health reports: We will begin a review of several environmental and health reports and data sources to gain insight into border health and environmental conditions, these include:

1.U. S. E.P.A., Binational Study Regarding the Presence of Toxic Substances in the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo . . . (Springfield, VA: National Technical Information Center, 1994);
2. Mary Kelly and Salvador Contreras, The 1994 Rio Grande Toxics Study: An Evaluation and User·s Guide (Austin: Texas Center for Policy Studies, 1995);
3. U. S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Health Consultation Camino Real Landfill (Atlanta: U. S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, 1996); and
4. Marvin S. Legator and Sabrina F. Strawn, Chemical Alert: A Community Action Handbook (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993), will be used as a general reference, we will review pp. 70-88.

E. Newspapers: Beginning in mid-April, 1996, the College Library has subscribed to one of the El Paso daily newspapers. Students should review these papers each day, and note or copy one article that you find is especially related to our work. A form for this purpose will be distributed.

F. Films: During the first two weeks, we will have group showings of several films related to U.S. – Mexican history, relations, society, culture, and economics. All films are designed to increase our sensitivity to the people and needs of the region in which we will work. Guests are welcomed at evening showings.

Student travel and related costs for this course are subsidized by a grant from the Corporation for National Service's SEAMS Project. Planning costs, such as preliminary travel to the border to arrange the course, has been supported by the Michigan Campus Compact Grant to Alma College for Global Service. Especially as a result of the SEAMS grant, we are obligated to share our findings with others. It is anticipated that student research results from this course will lead to various opportunities to present findings to the public, either in academic conferences during 1996-97, or through publications.

Progress through this course will be assessed in four stages. The philosophy behind the course is called mastery learning. That is, every student should master all material in each stage before moving to the next and should master all course objectives before completing the course. After the first two stages, there will be assessments, which will be like standard tests. Students may take these tests as often as necessary until all work is known. The third stage of the course, will be the one on the border, during which time, students will assemble a journal, including a daily written reflection on experiences, and handouts and other documents collected during that day·s work. The last stage of the course, during and after the fourth week, will be a research report on one border environmental health topic.

Details of assessment methods for the later three stages of the course will be given before we embark on each stage. Below are listed the general subjects which we must master during the first week.

GEOGRAPHY – Understand the basic geography of Mexico (& the U.S.)
Review the major regions, cities, etc. of Chihuahua, New Mexico, and Texas
Know the Rio Grande (Bravo) Valley
Know the counties, cities, colonias of the Juarez-El Paso region

HISTORY – Major events, personalities, and consequences of the conquest.
The major events, personalities, and consequences of the war for independence, the early republican era, the Mexican-American War and the French invasion.
The Diaz era and the Revolution
Mexico since the Revolution
The Revolution & Its Consequences in Chihuahua.

POLITICS – Comparative Mexican and U.S. Government
Political parties in Mexico
Comparative foreign policy
Economic integration and rivalry
Border Tensions: Americanization & Mexicanization
Government in Texas and New Mexico
Community Organization
Know the names of key office holders

NOTE: This class is a full-time activity during Spring term. Nothing can take precedence over this class! If we need to meet at an unscheduled time to get a task completed, we must be in class. Tell friends about this priority before you schedule any social activities. The schedule below is simply an indication of when we hope to cover material. It may be changed at any time to fit priority needs.


April 29
10:00 a.m. – First class – Review syllabus, geography and history as well as border health information in readings done before class from Skolnick and Hendricks.

April 30
9:00 a.m. – Review Mexican History
READING: Ramon Ruiz, Triumphs and Tragedy: A History of the Mexican People.

May 1
10:00 a.m. – Complete review of History and Begin Comparative Politics READING: Robert Pastor and Jorge Castaneda, Limits to Friendship: The United States and Mexico.

May 2
10:00 a.m. – Politics in Chihuahua and Texas
READINGS: Mark Wasserman, Persistent Oligarchs; and Mary Beth Rogers, Cold Anger

May 3
10:00 a.m. – Assessment of April 29 – May 2 Review of Public Management READINGS: B. Guy Peters, The Politics of Bureaucracy, pp. 1-82.

May 5
8:00 p.m. – MOVIE – The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez Question for the evening: What is Cinco de Mayo?

May 6
10:00 a.m. – Complete Review of Public Management READING: Peters, pp. 89-127.
2:00 p.m. – Guest Lecture on Mexican History by Prof. Yavenditti

May 7
10:00 a.m. – Review Border Health Policy Issues Read and critique ATSDR, Health Consultation. 8:00 p.m. – MOVIE: Viva Zapata!

May 8 10:00 a.m. – Review Environmental Policy Read and critique: EPA, Binational Study Regarding, and Kelly and Contreras, The 1994 Rio Grande Toxics Study.
Michael J. Scott, "What You Need to Know Before You Start: Introduction to Experimental Design," in Legator and Strawn, pp. 70-88.

May 9 Break for Packing

May 10 Depart for Metro Airport 5:00 a.m. – Reid-Knox Lot Arrive El Paso 2:00 p.m. MDT 4:15 p.m. arrive Environmental Center for water sample training with Cynthia Lopez, Harvard School of Public Health and Cyrus Reed, Texas Center for Policy Studies.

May 11
7:00 a.m. River sampling with Cynthia Lopez
10:00 a.m. Go to Sparks, Texas, for EPISO community building ground breaking and tour of Juarez-El Paso

Morning free for religious services, phone calls home
After noon and evening – bus and walking visit to Juarez; evening hike in Franklin Mountains

May 13
8:30 a.m. Visit University of Texas at El Paso, Center for Environmental Resource Management, with Dr. Romy Ledesma, Director, EPA – Americorps Program
10:30 a.m. Visit and begin research project at Asociacion del Medio Ambiente de Sunland Park, with Lorenzo Espinoza, Director, and Cynthia Lopez, Harvard School of Public Health
3:00 p.m. Visit Blanca Serrano, Director of Programs, Office of Border Health, Texas Department of Health

May 14
10:30 a.m. Visit to Border Health Office, New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, hosted by Kitty Richards, Environmental Specialist
1:30 p.m. Visit to the Colonias Development Council, Las Cruces, with Bess Metcalf, Director
3:00 p.m. Visit Dona Ana County Court House, Office of the Assessor, for Sunland Park property information

May 15
8:30 a.m. Visit International Boundary and Water Commission,
orientation to Binational Study . . . [of] the Rio Grade by Rene Valenzuela, Public Affairs Officer, and Yusaf Farran, Environmental Scientist
11:00 a.m. Visit offices of UNITE for orientation to occupational health with Bill Arballo and Sandra Spector of UNITE; Hector Arellano of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and Martha Sanchez of the Rio Grande Worker's Alliance.
2:30 p.m. Visit the Environmental Center for environmental orientation with John Sproul, Director; Cyrus Reed of the Texas Center for Policy Studies; and James VanDerslice, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Texas – Houston School of Public Health.
4:30 p.m. Tour of maquiladoras, colonias, and Aguas Negras in Juarez, with Sister Judy of EPISO.

May 16
7:00 a.m. Water sampling with staff of the IBWC in Rio Grande.
10:00 a.m. Orientation to health issues concerning women and children by Cindy Haag, Maternidad la Luz, El Paso.
11:30 a.m. Continue research in Sunland Park

May 17
9:00 a.m. Environmental students to University of Texas Library public health students to El Paso City-County Health and Environmental District Offices, meet with Irene Rivas
11:00 a.m. Continue research in Sunland Park

May 18
8:00 a.m. Work on EPISO septic system project in San Elizario, Texas, with students from UTEP.
Late Afternoon visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park

May 19 Depart El Paso 11:00 a.m. MDT

May 20
2:00 p.m. – Begin to assemble final research report

May 21
10:00 a.m. – Research report review and data gathering

May 22
10:00 a.m. – Finalizing research report

May 23
10:00 a.m. – Proofing and revising research report.
4:59 p.m. – Research report due.