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Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Number of Credits Offered: 3
Eligible Population: 03 Junior, 04 Senior, Graduate Type of Program: Faculty-led
Click here for a definition of this term Area of Study: Public Policy and Management, Government and International Policy, International Security, International/Comparative Studies Open to non-Mason Students: Yes
Program Description:

Mexico-U.S. Relations: Security, Immigration, Trade: Walls or Bridges?

Summer, 2021Mexico city and flag

At the center of the U.S. politics and public policy agenda are 5 major themes and they are all connected with Mexico: security, immigration, drugs, trade, and the border wall. Mexico is a country of critical importance to the United States. However, our mutual interests can vary significantly as they relate to security, economic, and immigration goals. These may be aligned in some ways and misaligned in others. It is not just public sector interests in play, but private sector ones as well. We will get a first-hand look at these issues and discuss the feasibility of policy alignment with key sectors from government, academia, and a unique perspective from private corporations. 

Upon completing this course, students will be familiar with a range of contemporary policy-making challenges, including their origins, implications, and possible future trajectories. Topics range from drug cartels to immigration to economic growth and trade relations. Participants will acquire the knowledge and understanding to place these challenges within a broader historical, political, social, and economic context.

This study abroad program presents an ideal opportunity for Schar students—as well as other interested individuals—to explore some of the most consequential policy problems facing the US today. Indeed, Mexico offers perhaps the richest international experience possible to students of public policy and government, regardless of their specific areas of interest and expertise.

Click Here to read the Bios for the Speakers on this program!
Sponsored by the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. 

Program Highlights

  • Hear from the Mexican government
  • See the contrasts between rural and city life, and how development initiatives differ in each.
  • Think about democracy and security in a developing state.
  • Visit the US Embassy for briefings and attempt to understand the interagency soup managing trade and security
  • Visit the international corporate headquarters of Jose Cuervo for a briefing on international management and trade
  • Briefings on security, drug cartels, and energy reform
  • Meet journalists, academics, business leaders, and community leaders


This program is open to all undergraduate and graduate students, including students who do not attend George Mason University.


Students will be registered for one 3-credit course during the spring semester.

Course Options

  • GOVT 398: Study Abroad
  • ITRN 702: Special Topics in Study Abroad

Program Dates*

May 22-31, 2021

The dates above include optional pre- and post-program excursions. Students who do not participate in either should plan to arrive in Mexico City on January 9 and depart on January 18. More information below.
Saturday, May 22 (Casual dress)
Upon arrival into MEX, participants should take a taxi from the secure taxi kiosk located outside of customs or an uber to the hotel (approx 8-15 USD).  Hotel Gillow, Isabel la Católica #17, Centro Histórico, Mexico City, Tel. 011+52-55-5510- 0791,
6:00pm            Meet in lobby to go to the meeting space for orientation and review of schedule
6:10-7:30pm   BORDER ISSUES, Melissa del Bosque
7:45pm            Group dinner at the rooftop restaurant of the Hotel Majestic overlooking the Mexico City ‘Zócalo’.  (Avenida Madero 73, Centro Histórico, Mexico City, 5521-8600)
Sunday, May 23 (Casual dress, comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen)
Breakfast at your leisure starting from 7:30am (give your breakfast ticket to the waiter, otherwise you will be charged).
9:00am Meet in lobby, return at 5:00pm  
9:10am Departure. A full day with Prof. Charles Goff for a series of visits.
A discussion and visit to the Plaza of Three Cultures, where we see pre-hispanic Mexico; 300 years as a colony of Spain; modern Mexico; and the site of the 1968 student demonstrations
How wealth inequality is impacting development. A discussion and drive though lower income neighborhoods (squatter settlements on the outskirts of Mexico City).

A bag lunch will be provided and a guided visit to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan and the Basilica of Guadalupe.
Evening Free: Dinner on your own
Monday, May 24 (Business casual dress in the am and business dress in the pm). Bring Passport
Breakfast at your leisure starting from 7:30am (give your breakfast ticket to the waiter)
8:30am   Walk to the meeting room (Salon Cabrera) at the Gran Hotel de México, (16 de septiembre #82, tel: 55-1083-7700)
9:00- 10:30am  MEXICAN MILITARY AND SECURITY ISSUES: ARE WE WINNING THE DRUG WAR?  by Professor Laura Carlsen, Director of the Americas Program in Mexico City, a program of the Center for International Policy based in Washington DC.  She is a journalist affiliated with NPR, NBC, the BBC, Univision, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and a columnist with Foreign Policy in Focus.
12:15- 1:00pm   INTERNATIONAL FOOD SECURITY ISSUES, Dr. Ellen Laipson
Free time to visit the main square (the Zócalo) with the National Cathedral, Aztec Temple and murals in the National Palace.
5:45pm Depart Hotel Gillow lobby to walk to the Congreso de la Ciudad de México, on Donceles and Tacuba.
6:00pm THE STATE OF THE UNION; TAKING THE PULSE with The Honorable Carlos Gelista, PAN party previous President and activist. He will host us at the ‘Congreso de la Ciudad de México’ and speak to us there.
Tuesday, May 25 (Business dress) Bring Passport
Breakfast at your leisure starting from 7:30am (give your breakfast ticket to the waiter)
9:15am Depart from Gillow lobby to the meeting room at the Gran Hotel de México
10:00am  SAFETY AND SECURITY IN 2020 at the Command Center (C5) of the Mexico City Department of Public Safety with Director, Juan Manuel García Ortegón. (Cecilio Robelo #3, entre Av. Congreso de la Unión y Sur 103, Colonia del Parque).
12:00pm          Depart hotel lobby
12:15pm          Lunch at Casino Espanol (Isabel la Católica, Centro Histórico #31)
1:00pm            Dr. Eduardo Guerrero on the DYNAMICS OF ORGANIZED CRIME AND VIOLENCE IN MEXICO
3:00pm            Depart hotel lobby for Santa Fe.
4:45pm            Check in at security Bring Student ID
5:00-7:00pm Visit the International Corporate Headquarters. MARKETING THE TASTE OF MEXICO, Araceli Ramos Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Jose Cuervo and founder of Cuervo Mundo. (Guillermo González Camarena 800 - 4th floor, Col. Zedec, Santa Fe).  Reception and tasting of canapés at Cuervo.
Return to the Hotel Gillow.
Wednesday, May 26 (Business dress) Bring Passport
Breakfast at your leisure starting at 7:30am (give your breakfast ticket to the waiter). Check out. Load luggage into the bus.
9:15am  Depart from hotel for the briefing at the UNITED STATES EMBASSY.  (Paseo de la Reforma #305) Topics will include immigration, updates on the post-NAFTA environment, and security issues (cooperation on terrorism, crime and other transnational threats).
11:30am Visit the SAN ANTONIO TRADE OFFICE (Paseo de la Reforma 255 Piso 4-A, Torre Bursátil) hosted by Jill Metcalf, Director of Casa San Antonio.  Followed by a visit to the BOLSA DE VALORES (Mexico’s stock exchange)
1:00pm            Departure
-       Please note: We’ll fit in lunch/ snacks when we can-
1:30pm            Visit to the Mexican Federal Congress (Chamber of Deputies), COMPARING LEGISLATIVE PROCESSES, LAW MAKING IN MEXICO AND THE UNITED STATES visit hosted by Congressman Alejandro Mojica of the MORENA party from the state of Morelos.
Transfer to Cuernavaca.  Group Dinner in the Zocolo at The Universal.
Check in to the Hotel Posada Quinta Las Flores (Tlaquepaque 1, Colonia Las Palmas, tel. 314-1244).
Thursday, May 27 (Business casual, closed toed shoes)
Breakfast at the hotel
9:30- 11:00am BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: IMPLEMENTING ENERGY REFORMS IN MEXICO- CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES,  by Gabriel Becerra, Oil and Gas Magazine, in the hotel meeting room.
11:15am Depart from hotel lobby for AGRO/Industry visit with The Honorable Dr. Jorge Morales Barud, former Governor of Morelos, Mayor of Cuernavaca, and Secretary of Agriculture. We will visit agriculture production and processing sites within the state of Morelos.
3:00 pm Final luncheon at the Hacienda Vista Hermosa. CAN MEXICO FACE THE CHALLENGE?  a wrap-up discussion.
Return to the hotel
Friday, May 28
Breakfast (included/ no ticket necessary) at your leisure in the hotel (business casual with comfortable shoes and sunscreen)
9:20am  Meet in the hotel entrance
9:30- 12:00pm  Depart from hotel for a visit to downtown Cuernavaca: CUERNAVACA IN MEXICO’S HISTORY, with Professor Charlie Goff .  See and discuss social programs, including healthcare, education, and the arts.
Lunch on your own (restaurant suggestions: Casa Hidalgo, Casa Rivera, Pancracio, Gabilondo).
4:30pm Depart downtown to visit the famous Las Mañanitas. WELCOME TO CUERNAVACA, by the City's Secretary of Tourism, Dalel Cortés. Briefing and discussion on the importance of the tourism sector in Mexico.
official program concludes.
7:00pm Depart for Mexican dinner and fiesta. The fiesta will conclude at 10:30pm and our bus will return students to the hotel. Private transportation can be arranged, if students want to depart earlier. 
Saturday, May 29 (Casual)
Breakfast (included/ no ticket necessary) at your leisure in the hotel
Individual check-out, OR OPTIONAL
Private guided tour of the Frida Kahlo House, Leon Trotsky House, and Saturday Market (Bazaar Sabado). Lunch included at the famous Bazaar Sabado. Group will return to the hotel by 6:00pm.
We will assist in coordinating. Airport buses run every half hour directly from Cuernavaca to the Mexico City airport terminals. Please check the bus schedule in your packet. Plan to depart the hotel 4 hours before flight time. Delta and Aeroméxico depart from Terminal 2 and all other airlines from Terminal 1. The bus stops at both terminals.
Sunday, May 30 (Casual)
9:30-4:30pm Optional Saturday trip to Tepoztlan, one of Mexico's "Pueblos Mágicos" (Magical towns) as it preserves its traditions and language.
We will visit the 16th century convent and museum, and the Saturday market.
Optional hike up to the Tepozteco Pyramid on the cliff.
Lunch in Tepoztlan
Departure from hotel lobby.
Monday, May 31
Individual check-out
Appropriate Dress:
Casual Dress is jeans or slacks and a conservative shirt. Sandals, sneakers are fine.
Business Casual dress is slacks and a golf shirt/pullover a button down (tie is not necessary but no jeans, no T- shirts, no casual sandals, no sun/casual shirts or sundresses for the ladies).
Business Dress is a suit and tie or a sports coat and tie for the men and a suit or dress (not a sundress) for the ladies with appropriate shoes (no casual sandals).
*The schedule may change or be modified at any time.

Program Cost

Summer 2021: $3,850 for students who complete their application by March 10th

Price increases to $4100 after that date.

And the same pricing for the tours (at the end of the program- $175 per tour or $300 for both).

Included: Tuition for 3 credits, double-occupancy hotel rooms, most meals, excursions and entrance fees as described in itinerary, in-country transportation to all program activities, international emergency medical insurance. 

Not included: Round-trip transportation to Mexico City*, airport transportation (to/from MEX), passport and visa fees, some meals, personal spending, required textbooks and/or course materials. Optional excursions available for additional fee. *Note: Participants must arrange their own airfare once instructed to do so by the program administrator.

Program Payments

Students on MasonGEO programs must pay the advertised program cost in order to participate. This cost will be made in three payments (Deposit + First Payment + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments.
Application Deposit: A non-refundable program deposit $200 must be received by the application deadline. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee.

First Payment: A non-refundable payment of $1000 must be received by March 20th. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee. Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.

In the event that a student’s financial aid or VA Benefits is estimated to cover the entire costs of the study abroad program, the entire charge will be posted to their student account, since that is where the aid will be applied. In this case students do not pay their first payment through MasonAbroad. However students must submit their “Intent to Use Financial Aid” form by the first deposit deadline.

Final Payment: The final balance payment is due by April 10th. This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $1200 you've already paid (Deposit + First Payment). Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.

Financial Aid and VA Benefits: Students who intend to use financial aid or their VA benefits to fund their program fees (partially or in full) must have the "Intent to Use Financial Aid" or "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form" completed and on file with the Global Education Office by the First Payment deadline. The "Intent to Use Financial Aid" form is available in the MasonAbroad application system once you have started your application for this program. If you are using VA Benefits please contact your program officer to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form."

Withdrawal and Refund Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Withdrawal and Refund Policy.

Application Opens:

August 1


Application Deadline:

March 10


Application requirements:*

Course Selection Questionnaire: You will choose the course(s) you would like to be receive credit for on this program. Check the "Academics" tab to see what courses are offered on this program. If you need help selecting your course, check with your academic advisor.

Passport Status Questionnaire: You do not need a passport to complete this questionnaire or the application. However, if you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now.

Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents regarding the acknowledgement of risk and your financial responsibility.

Intent to Use Financial Aid Form: For Mason students only. If you use financial aid, this form must be completed by your financial aid counselor and submitted by the 1st payment deadline.

Additional requirements for non-Mason applicants:

Official transcript: To be mailed or emailed to the Global Education Office at George Mason University.

Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form: Please complete the form and upload it into the questionnaire.

* Additional application requirements may apply to individual programs. Once you open your application, you will see all application requirements.

Application instructions:

Schar Program Administrator

  Michal Malur
Name Michal Malur

Academic Director

Name Ellen Laipson
Title Director of the Master's in International Security degree program and the Center for Security Policy Studies at the Schar School of Policy and Government


Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2021 03/10/2021 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.