Texas Tech is partnering with universities in Honduras and Guatemala to address the pollution of the Rio Motagua Basin.
Last month, Texas Tech University's Graduate School and International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land Studies (ICASALS) were awarded a grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, a public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas and other organizations. The program's mission is to develop higher education partnerships, increase student training and exchange opportunities, and strengthen regional education cooperation and competitiveness throughout the Americas.
The $25,000 grant will help fund an international joint effort between Texas Tech, the Universidad Tecnológica de Honduras (UTH) and the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC) to combat river pollution in Central America. During the project, entitled “Convergence Research to Tackle Grand Challenges: A Unified Response to the Contamination of the Rio Motagua Basin,” students and faculty from each institution will build interdisciplinary, transnational teams, perform collaborative research and complete peer exchanges in order to understand and effectively respond to the solid waste plaguing one of Central America's largest rivers.
Texas Tech's team is headed by Jorge Salazar-Bravo, director of ICASALS, and Cari Carter, an assistant professor of practice and the graduate program director for interdisciplinary studies in the Graduate School.
“The innovative aspect of our grant proposal is that it focuses on how large socio-environmental problems need to be tackled by sharpening the team-building skills of transdisciplinary groups,” Salazar-Bravo said.
Socio-environmental problems, Carter explained, are considered ‘wicked problems' – large, complex problems that are impossible to solve by a single person or group alone.
“For this project, the wicked problem we are challenged with is the contamination of the Rio Motagua,” Carter said. “We're bringing together students and professors from Texas Tech, UTH and USAC, along with community members such as the First Nations in Central America, to help find ways to stop pollution in this area.”
About the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund
The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is the leading hemispheric-wide initiative supported by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies other visionary companies, foundations and educational institutions working to strengthen collaboration among governments, business and academia. Read more about this initiative here.