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Institute for the Regional Studies of the Californias (1983-) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Institute for the Regional Studies of the Californias (1983-)
Variant Name: IRSC

Historical Note:

The Institute for the Regional Studies of the Californias (IRSC) is located at San Diego State University (SDSU). Preceded by the California Border Area Research Group, the IRSC was established in 1983 by Norris Clement and Miguel Angel Cardenas who served as interim co-directors while a national search for a director was conducted. In 1984, Paul Ganster was hired as IRSC director. Clement and Cardenas continued as associate directors for some time thereafter. Subsequent years saw Joe Nalven and Steve Jenner working at the IRSC as associate directors. Bertha Hern√°ndez is Administrative Coordinator and Associate Editor.

As a research center focused on the United States-Mexico border region, the IRSC serves numerous functions. Specifically, it provides San Diego State University with a forum for the investigation, discussion, and dissemination of information about the US-Mexican border region with particular focus on the border region of California and Baja California. It publishes books, monographs, and pamphlets, and conducts major applied research projects on border environmental issues and policy, regional economic issues, and cross-border planning issues.

Additional functions of the Institute include conducting binational symposia, facilitating communication between public and private sector representatives of the border region, and serving as a clearinghouse for information on border region events, issues and institutions. The IRSC serves as SDSU's link to the Southwest Center for Environmental Research and Policy, a congressionally established consortium of Mexican and US universities for research and policy studies on environmental issues of the border.

In addition to its affiliation with the Southwest Center for Environmental Research and Policy, the IRSC is also involved with the Border Trade Alliance, the International History Fair, the San Diego Association of Governments and its Committee on Binational Regional Opportunities, the Border Governors Conference, the Border XXI process, the United States Environmental Protection Agency US-Mexico Border Program, the Commission of the Californias, the Rand Corporation, and the Good Neighbor Environmental Board.

Important historical events and circumstances occurring since the creation of the IRSC include Mexico's economic crisis of the 1980s, the US Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, the Mexican peso devaluation and its associated increase of borderland maquiladoras during the 1990s, the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, and the extraordinary shift in Mexican political powers starting in 1997 with the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) loss of the lower legislative house, and the mayoralty of Mexico City, followed in 2000 by their loss of the presidency, ending 71 years of one-party rule.

The IRSC donated its collection to Special Collections & University Archives when its offices moved to the newly finished Arts and Letters building in 2006.


"Description of IRSC" webpage of the Institute for the Regional Studies of the Californias.  Viewed 11/30/2006. Last updated 8/31/2004.

Taken from the "About Us; Our Message" webpage of the Border Trade Alliance. Viewed 12/05/06.

Note Author: Gail Ryan

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