Fielding Renews Collaboration with University of Guadalajara

In 2010, Fielding Graduate University began collaborating with the University of Guadalajara to help promote a love of reading among the children and residents of Mexico’s Jalisco region.

The University of Guadalajara

Working together, they created and grew the Letras para Volar (Letters to Fly) program, which has now taught over 380,000 children to read through workshop and teaching experiences — and reaches 46,000 students every week in Mexico’s schools.  The program was founded to promote a love for:

  • Science and math
  • Ecological sustainability and environmental care
  • Ancient traditions and colorful art
  • Social consciousness and solidarity

Fielding President Katrina Rogers, PhD, recently joined faculty member Annabelle Nelson, PhD, and retired faculty member Anna DiStefano, EdD, in attending the program’s eighth annual conference, where the two universities renewed their agreement to continue working together.

(L-R) Drs. Yolanda Gayol, Katrina Rogers, Annabelle Nelson, and Anna DiStefano at the Letras para Volar conference in June

Letras Para Volar emerged from a course taught by Yolanda Gayol, EdD, a faculty member in Fielding’s Educational Leadership for Change program. Patricia Rosas Chavez, EdD, of the University of Guadalajara was a visiting faculty member.

Dr. Rosas Chavez invited Fielding to collaborate to improve the literacy rate in Guadalajara, and also to use literacy training as a way to build critical thinking and creative writing skills. Recognizing that literacy

  • Connects us to a common past and also individual identities within those contexts
  • Helps us assume our civic responsibilities and take part in meaningful work
  • Opens the door to specialized and advanced knowledge
  • Broadens our worldview, and
  • Gives us the power to make meaning,

faculty members, alumni, and students from both institutions developed curricula based on Paole Freire’s theory, and began training others. They met both in person and via tele- and video-conferencing, and held workshops — such as one on journalism, to show children and young adults the power of “reading the world” around you by critically investigating what’s going on in their schools and communities.

“We have great respect for those who are committed to education to improve people’s lives and who have a deep passion for innovation,” said President Rogers during the recent conference. “For the past decade, we have been working together to establish the first pillars of this program, seeking to promote a love of reading, mathematics and science, learn about Mexican traditions and understand the importance of ecology and the care of the environment. the appreciation of reading and writing about social awareness and solidarity.”

Dr. Gayol, now a Fielding Fellow, continues to teach two courses at the University of Guadalajara’s master program in New Literacy Studies, is coordinating four literacy-related online graduate certificates there for secondary school teachers, and is co-editing two books in literacy studies along with Dr. Rosas.

Future collaborative possibilities between the two universities include student and faculty exchange and research project development.