This entry is part 15 of 29 in the series Fall - 2016


by Tiana Nelson

The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is working to answer the call of a 21st-century land-grant institution on a global scale, seeking to build bridges between the United States and Mexico, between students and faculty in both nations, and between research and action.

The Center’s location in Baja California Sur provides a unique opportunity to combine outreach, research, and access for CSU students, students in the local community, and area residents.

“CSU Todos Santos Center works to integrate community-identified needs into student and research programs,” said Danielle Straatmann, director of the Todos Santos Veterinary Externship Program. “Many of the programs – including veterinary medicine, fish, wildlife and conservation biology, and marine biology – meet with local high school students and youth to talk about different educational and study opportunities for their future, giving insight into different professions and areas of study, as they look to go to university themselves.”

The Center offers access to experiential learning in unique climates, enhancing education by providing hands-on courses in different ecosystems. This provides an opportunity for students to gain a worldwide vision of the needs and challenges our planet and its people are facing.

“CSU is engaging in research and education to address global challenges, while simultaneously supporting and furthering regional initiatives and priorities, and providing access and outreach to allow each of us the opportunity to develop our individual and collective capacities,” said Kim Kita, director of Special Projects and Partnerships at CSU.


The immersive and relational nature of student learning in Todos Santos allows connection to people, place, and culture even with short periods of stay. Sociology and Spanish major Joanie Ellis studied at the Center for five weeks during the summer of 2015 and “had the greatest experience ever.”

“Not only memories, but I learned so much about CSU, about Todos Santos, and about myself. The community-based approach let me learn more in just over a month in Todos Santos than I did in other, longer experiences abroad,” she said.

The Center is rooted in the need to prepare global citizens who can work collaboratively across borders to address challenges in a rapidly changing world.

The University is building long-lasting relationships with the people of Todos Santos. They start with educational opportunities, including Kids Do It All – a pairing of students from Colorado and students from BCS to create a theater performance – and English courses for adults, as well as wide-ranging community service.

Tania Zenteno-Savin is a professor at CIBNOR, a partner research institution with CSU. “CSU Todos Santos Center provides an opportunity for the local communities, both academic and public at large, to learn from each other, to exchange experiences, to compare opportunities, and to jointly find options and solutions to shared challenges,” she said.

McKenzie Campbell, director of the CSU Todos Santos Center, lives in Todos Santos and agrees that the partnerships and relationships created promote increased access to education and cultural awareness for all.

“Together with community members and regional partners, we are co-creating meaningful opportunities for learning, research, and exchange for all ages and educational levels in a variety of areas that the regional community has identified as important,” she said. “The Center in Todos Santos is a hub of learning, teaching, and exchange across multiple cultures, languages, backgrounds, and disciplines.”