A strategic alliance between the SolarSPELL initiative at Arizona State University (ASU) and faculty from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico, begun in 2018, has continued to develop on the heels of ASU in Mexico partnerships.

Photo Credit: Tecnológico de Monterrey

Back in 2018, several educational institutions, including ASU and Tec, received an invitation to jointly apply for the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO) Seed Grant Program. Together, the universities submitted a proposal and received a small award intended to build partnerships, which allowed Tec faculty member Marcela Georgina Gómez Zermeño to travel to Arizona and meet SolarSPELL Co-Directors/Co-Founders, Laura Hosman and Bruce Baikie. Gómez Zermeño is a faculty member in the Escuela de Humanidades y Educación (School of Humanities and Education) at Tec de Monterrey. 

Later, she was joined by another faculty member in the same department, Lorena Alemán de la Garza, to work with SolarSPELL on submitting another proposal to carry out a pilot project focused on improving education about climate change  This proposal was successful, and as a result, in February 2020, Hosman, Gómez Zermeño and Alemán de la Garza traveled to Fiji. On the trip, they conducted research and evaluations, where they assessed the impact of SolarSPELL as a Teaching-Learning resource on climate change. Tec de Monterrey PhD student May Portuguez joined the team as well to help analyze and write up the findings. A paper was published with their results in August 2020 and can be found here.

The team supporting SolarSPELL, from Tec de Monterrey, has since expanded and now includes a group of Master’s and Doctoral students, led by Gómez Zermeño, who will be working with the team over the next three semesters. These students are conducting their projects in ways that will help impact how SolarSPELL will be introduced into Mexico and eventually into other Latin American countries.

Gómez Zermeño says, “We’re convinced that a strategic alliance with SolarSPELL would allow the strengthening of educational research and innovation activities between Tec de Monterrey and ASU – SolarSPELL… This will allow students from Tec de Monterrey [working on SolarSPELL projects] to develop new skills through educational experiences, become agents of change and realize that their actions can support the transformation of others.”

Alemán de la Garza is very passionate about introducing the project in Mexico. She has been an avid supporter of SolarSPELL since she joined the team, and says “working with Tec de Monterrey, and also eventually having the support of the Ministry of Education, would give SolarSPELL the opportunity to impact more individuals in Mexico and Latin America.”

By continuing to collaborate with the team at Tec (in addition to co-submitting proposals), connecting with leadership at ASU, through the ASU in Mexico initiative, and further developing our Latin American digital library connection, we have been laying the groundwork for SolarSPELL to launch a pilot implementation in Mexico.

Tec de Monterrey would serve as a university partner with ASU-SolarSPELL in collecting and curating content for the digital libraries, in addition to potentially hosting future SolarSPELL implementations, in-field trainings, conducting impact evaluation, and contributing to expanding the number of SolarSPELL libraries introduced across the country.

Portuguez says “a lot of other universities look to Tec as an innovative leader, not just in Mexico, but in Latin America, and by having an alliance between the two universities, there are a lot of possibilities, lots of room to grow, open more doors, and the ability to reach more people in Latin America.”

The ASU in Mexico initiative, according to the mexico.asu.edu website, is looking to develop innovative solutions on both sides of the border, and has already been working with Tec de Monterrey as one of several university partners.

According to ASU President Crow, the university is seeking “stronger ties through education, research and innovation so we can help each other prepare for the challenges and the changing nature of the advanced workforce of the 21st century.”

Through the innovative nature of Arizona State University and Tec de Monterrey, the two universities can continue working together through SolarSPELL to transform the learning outcomes of students in Mexico and beyond.