A&M International Faculty Member Crosses Both Sides of Border

A Texas A&M International University faculty member is taking full advantage of Laredo's geographical proximity to Mexico by exploring various opportunities to study suburban phenomena on both sides of the border.

To Dr. Michael Yoder, assistant professor of geography, working in Laredo for the past three years has been anything but dull. The city's location, he says, has afforded him the chance to travel in Mexico to conduct field studies and work face to face with colleagues who have offered him fresh perspectives.

Yoder, whose native language is English, recently published an article in Perfiles, a University of Coahuila (Coahuila, Mexico) interdisciplinary journal. Titled, "The Growth of the Suburban Zone in Saltillo, Coahuila," the article is written in Spanish and discusses the vast growth of suburbia in Saltillo.

"I began this study because mid-sized cities in Mexico are understudied. Most of the literature that exists deals with large cities. For me, the fact that I have something published and edited in Spanish is an amazing thing that I have always hoped for and it's happened," Yoder said.

Yoder, who often exchanges ideas with his counterparts in Mexico via Internet, is also proud to say he will attend a bi-national conference in Monterrey March 25-26 to give a presentation in Spanish about similarities between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo suburbia.

The conference, titled "The Border: The Challenges of the 21st Century," is sponsored by A&M International, the University of Monterrey, and Colegio de la Frontera Norte (of Nuevo Laredo). Organized every 18 months in various cities along the border, the conference unites academics from both sides of the border to discuss common issues in sociology, political science, literature, and border culture, among others.

In his presentation, Yoder plans to suggest what changes Laredo can make in its city by observing Nuevo Laredo's suburban structure.

"For example, in Nuevo Laredo, there are more parks and public transportation," Yoder said.

Cooperation between the two countries will become increasingly necessary as the 21st Century approaches, Yoder said.

"It is absolutely imperative that we get academics on both sides of the border addressing a multitude of themes that affect us all on the border. We have to continue this collaboration and meetings like these allow us to do this, " Yoder said.

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