Crossing Borders: Academe and Cultural Agency in Agricultural Research

  •  Robert Blake    
  •  Elvira Sanchez-Blake    
  •  Debra Castillo    


This article explores social educator actions by academe as cultural agency’s natural partner in ways that echo, connect and create plural discourse among the many dimensions and disciplines of society. Based on collaborations with Mexican partners, we argue this goal is achieved with multiplicative effects when students and faculty, key agents themselves and trainers of intercultural agents, learn first-hand by crossing borders to frame issues and work together to articulate collaborative research problems. In so doing a more inclusive worldview becomes integral context in needs assessments. This has been our long-standing pedagogical approach in leading students - undergraduates and graduates - and faculty from around the world on a multidisciplinary, intergenerational examination of rural and urban development in tropical Latin America. Greater academic agency through more alliances of this kind is needed to better achieve equity goals supported by greater investments targeting community engagement and applied problem-solving. We illustrate this learning framework and provide specific livestock research cases in southern Mexico that reveal potentials realized by bringing academe to the field and the field to academe, as part of a reinforcing educational process that promotes understanding and social transformation.

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