ASU partners with Sonoran Universities UNISON, CIAD, and COLSON


On March 17, 2017, Arizona State University (ASU), the Universidad de Sonora (UNISON), the Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo (CIAD) and the El Colegio de Sonora (COLSON) launched a joint effort to advance research and understanding of the Arizona-Sonora Transborder Region. The four higher education institutions announced two concurrent seed grant programs to support collaboration between researchers of Sonora and Arizona interested in developing projects addressing regional problems and identifying innovative solutions to the challenges of transborder development. Details of the concurrent seed grant programs can be found on the website of the ASU School of Transborder Studies (, UNISON (, COLSON ( and CIAD ( This announcement is a ratification of the commitment of the four universities to the consolidation of the scientific, technological, and innovative capacities of the transborder region through concrete actions supporting collaboration and networking among researchers on both sides of the border.


The states of Arizona and Sonora converge at the United States-Mexico international boundary and are described frequently as part of a “transborder” or “binational” region to emphasize the historical and contemporary links that connect their societies, economies and ecosystems. Presently, public, private and academic leaders on both sides of the border are promoting the concept of the Arizona-Sonora Megaregion as a way to deal with a “rigid” border while constructing a regional space where social development, economic growth, national security and sustainability can be jointly attained through collaboration and a shared vision of the future. Joining these efforts, in 2015 the ASU School of Transborder Studies (STS) launched several initiatives seeking to update and expand the knowledge of the connections between Arizona and Sonora, as well as to boost the role of border public universities in the long-term social, environmental and economic sustainability of the region.

A first initiative was the organization of the Arizona-Sonora Colloquium, a summit of Arizona and Sonora university leaders to explore opportunities for co-production of knowledge and innovation, as well as to examine the role that higher education and research institutions can play in consolidating the scientific, technological, and innovative capacities of the transborder region. Held in Tempe in May 20, 2015, the colloquium was attended by Dr. Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University (ASU), and the rectors of the Universidad de Sonora (UNISON), the El Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo (CIAD) and El Colegio de Sonora (COLSON). A second initiative was the support provided in 2015-2016 by the School of Transborder Studies’ Program for Transborder Communities (PTC) at ASU to interdisciplinary teams formed by scientists and scholars from both sides of the border investigating regional problems such as the implications of climate change and drought for desert cities; solar energy production, and the impact of physical inactivity on children health and development.   

Next Steps

The four universities are committed to the creation of a new platform of cross-border collaboration to foster knowledge, innovation, and education inspired by social needs and aspirations of development in the Arizona-Sonora Transborder Region. In pursuing this goal, the four institutions signed General Collaboration Agreements on May 23-24 in the context of the International Workshop on Transborder Governance and Cooperation. The ultimate goal of the general agreements is to establish the foundations for the creation of the Arizona-Sonora Interuniversity Partnership consisting of an expanded network of regional universities and research centers supporting-long term scientific and technological collaboration for the advancement of the region, as well as high impact education based on a Arizona-Sonora transborder paradigm.