When College of Business Dean Beth Walker joined several professors in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur this August, she arrived unsure of what to expect, but she came away brimming with ideas.
“Once I visited the Center, and perhaps more importantly, met with the inspirational people of Todos Santos, I knew that we could learn from the Todos Santos community, and perhaps contribute to their interest in creating some programs around entrepreneurship and leadership for those who are interested,” Walker said.
In 2013, the CSU Todos Santos Center staff worked with the local community to complete a Community Needs Assessment, synthesizing feedback and ideas for CSU’s focus areas in Todos Santos. That input has continued to be a key component of determining the Center’s programming, and the College team continued that on-the-ground understanding.
To learn more about the community, Walker and College of Business professors Chris Blocker and Grace Hanley Wright visited with Todos Santos residents, including a chili farmer, an organic farmer, a small business owner, a non-profit manager, and professors and students from a local university.
“It is important for our actions in Todos Santos to be community-driven,” Hanley Wright said. “Some of the common themes were the desire for entrepreneurship and business education and a desire for sustainable development in the community. The business school has unique knowledge and skill sets in these two areas, and as a result, we have the opportunity to co-create valuable relationships, programs, or research in the area.”
Drawing upon the college’s MBA program in social entrepreneurship, Walker said the CSU Todos Santos Center is a key opportunity to build programming and international exchange – as well as work to fulfill some of the community’s requests.
The College plans to begin conversations with local universities to develop leadership programs – particularly for female high school students – and to engage with local entrepreneurs.
There have already been 24 research trips involving more than 100 CSU faculty, staff, and students to the Todos Santos campus, and there are many different paths to create productive partnerships and robust research opportunities, Hanley Wright said.
“Many premier universities in the United States have satellite campuses in different countries around the world, which allows students to have hands-on experience in a location other than their home campus,” Hanley Wright said.
Blocker, who teaches product design, international marketing, and marketing strategy for sustainable enterprises, said the exploratory trip to Todos Santos provided him with a glimpse into the vast programming and CSU staff already working with the community.
“The CSU Todos Santos Center is a unique and wonderful reflection of CSU’s land-grant mission and its legacy of working toward sustainable solutions that impact our world in a positive way,” Blocker said. “Seeing the CSU Todos Santos Center up close provided me with a vivid understanding into all the wonderful work that is occurring among CSU staff, faculty, and students, as well as an opportunity to meet the many inspiring community members who are shaping the Center’s role in Todos Santos.”
“The Center represents a deep and longstanding commitment of CSU to the [Baja California Sur] community. We are in Todos Santos to enhance the educational opportunities that are available to the people of Todos Santos, as well as to CSU students and faculty who can learn so much from traveling to this region of Mexico,” Walker said.
“I am most excited about seeing what programs emerge from continued interaction between COB and Center staff, as well as with community members, that will build relationships and have a tangible impact on both Todos Santos and CSU,” she continued. “We can learn a lot by interacting with our colleagues in Mexico.”
About the CSU Todos Santos Center
The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is the university’s first international location and is core to CSU’s mission of teaching, research, service, and outreach.
The Center provides opportunities for CSU students and Baja California Sur residents to collaborate with local partners and businesses to identify needs, conduct research, and produce impactful outcomes.
CSU’s vision in Todos Santos is to cultivate generations of global citizens and to be a part of creating thriving communities through collaboration, experience, and exchange of knowledge in areas such as agriculture, infectious disease, elementary education, environmental and social sustainability, wildlife ecology, veterinary medicine, and public health.