Twenty Years of Interdisciplinary Studies: the “MEZA” Program’s Contributions to Society, Ecology, and the Education of Postgraduate Students
César Vázquez, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California
Tania de la Vega
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Management of arid ecosystems (MEZA by its Spanish acronym) is a Master of Science program that started in 1990 when very few interdisciplinary programs in environmental management existed in the world. Graduates and current students recognize the importance of a group of pioneers in multidisciplinary practice who have translated the scientific findings and insights of a diverse scholarly community into practical applications within the city in which the University of Baja California, El Sauzal campus, is located and its surrounding arid and coastal rural areas. Students and teachers have produced 20 ecosystem management plans, which have trained the students in practical teamwork. Most of these plans addressed an inquiry by a local community or government decision maker, which is considered to be the key origin of a project. In this paper, the MEZA program that the teachers designed is briefly described, and a series of projects are given as examples of their work. Two projects are more thoroughly explained because all of the coauthors (2009 and 2010 students) participated in these projects and believe that it is a valuable experience to share with others.
ecosystem management; Ensenada-Baja California; local knowledge; local participation; management planning; multidisciplinary research