Past Institutes

Southwest Vistas: The Border in American History

In June 2006, seventy-nine Texas teachers attended two professional development institutes organized by Humanities Texas, the University of Houston, and The University of Texas at El Paso examining the U.S.-Mexico border, comparing the histories of the Americas on either side.


The Houston and El Paso institutes explored the history and culture of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, aiming to broaden participants’ understanding of the Spanish colonial experience and its impact on U.S. history. Topics included the history of the populations indigenous to the U.S.-Mexico border, the African slave trade and its legacy in the Southwest, diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Latin America, and the changing patterns of immigration to Texas and the U.S. over the past century. Presentations also addressed the visual, literary, and musical traditions of both Latin America and the Hispanic U.S. and considered their influence upon U.S. life and culture. Content was aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), with particular emphasis on newly added or revised standards.

The institute emphasized close interaction with scholars, the examination of primary sources, and the development of effective pedagogical strategies and engaging assignments and activities. The programs were designed ultimately to enhance teachers' mastery of the subjects they teach and to improve students' performance on state assessments. Teachers received books and other instructional materials.


The institute faculty featured some of the leading scholars in Texas and the nation, including Norma E. Cantú (The University of Texas at San Antonio), Maceo C. Dailey Jr. (The University of Texas at El Paso), Nicolás Kanellos (University of Houston), Susan Kellogg (University of Houston), Steven Mintz (University of Houston), Monica Perales (University of Houston), Vicki L. Ruiz (University of California, Irvine), Quintard Taylor (University of Washington in Seattle) and David J. Weber (Southern Methodist University).

Educational specialists from the Institute of Texan Cultures also served on the institute faculty, providing participants with facsimiles of historic documents that support the teaching of U.S. history.

Locations and Schedule

June 4–7HoustonUniversity of HoustonSchedule
June 11–14El PasoThe University of Texas at El PasoSchedule

More information can be found in the institutes’ final report.


Program co-sponsors included the University of Houston and The University of Texas at El Paso.

The institute was made possible with major funding from a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Questions about Teacher Institutes

Call 512.440.1991 or email

2006 El Paso Institute Participants
Participants gather in The University of Texas at El Paso’s student union.
David Weber Lecture in Houston
David J. Weber (Southern Methodist University) opened both the Houston and El Paso institutes with public lectures examining the history of the American Southwest over the past five centuries.
Monica Perales Lecture in El Paso
Monica Perales (University of Houston) discusses labor history in the U.S.–Mexico border region at El Paso’s Café Mayapan.