The Mexican Migration Field Research and Training Program (MMFRP)

The Mexican Migration Field Research and Training Program (MMFRP)

Funded by: Ford Foundation; PI: Wayne Cornelius

UC San Diego’s Mexican Migration Field Research Program (MMFRP) is a nationally and internationally renowned academic program that performs three critical functions: 1) training the next generation of global health and development practitioners who will have substantive expertise on international migration and health as well as advanced data collection/analysis skills and experience; 2) expanding primary knowledge of the health consequences of Mexican migration to the United States, through fieldwork-based, bi-national team research; 3) disseminating this new knowledge broadly through publications, web-based applications, and briefings for public officials and the mass media. In operation since 2004-05, MMFRP students receive three quarters of training in field research methods appropriate to the study of international migrant populations. They conduct more than 1,000 in-depth survey and qualitative interviews each year, on both sides of the border. Fieldwork practicums are conducted in high-emigration towns in three Mexican states and the principal U.S. receiving cities for migrants from these communities of origin. The program has a quasi-longitudinal design, with populations from the same research sites being interviewed on a three-year cycle, yielding detailed baseline data and evidence of changes over time on key migration and health indicators. Once fieldwork is completed students are trained to analyze their field data and co-author journal articles based on the data. Nine out of ten students participating in the program are from underrepresented groups, primarily Latinos. The program is transformative for students, equipping them with a unique skill set that prepares them for graduate and professional study, careers in NGOs and other forms of public service, research and public education. For example, pre-med participants are often motivated to pursue careers in family practice in under-served immigrant communities. The MMFRP has been recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the nation’s most innovative efforts, in any field, to create undergraduate research opportunities at a major research university. Seven major, highly praised books and dozens of articles in peer-reviewed journals have been based on MMFRP research to date, and data gathered by MMFRP students were cited extensively in a study of U.S. immigration policy published by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science in December 2011. Approximately 30 students based at UC and Mexican partner institutions participate in the MMFRP each year. Cost per student for a full year of training and fieldwork expense is approximately $3,500.