This past weekend, Yale expanded its efforts to increase the University’s presence abroad into a new region: Mexico, the first Latin American country with which the University has partnered.

From Thursday to Saturday of last week, Yale hosted a group of 22 public and private sector leaders from Mexico for the inaugural CIDE-Yale Mexico Leadership Program. The program — jointly run between Yale and Mexico’s Center for Research and Training in Economics (CIDE) — offers discussions led by Yale faculty on governance, public policy and leadership. Yale has offered similar highly customized senior leadership programs to other international partners including senior cohorts of Chinese government and university officials and members of the Indian parliament, but last weekend marked the first leadership program conducted with a Latin American partner.

“This is an example of the kind of high level leadership training that we’ve been doing in a variety of countries around the world,” University President Richard Levin said. “I do think it’s a great way to establish Yale as an institution of excellence in these countries. By going directly to leadership levels, [those countries] come away with an opinion that Yale can contribute something really valuable to their thinking.”

Since 1996, Levin has led the University in efforts to increase Yale’s international standing, partly via programs to engage academic, business and political leaders in countries like China, India and Singapore.

Last weekend’s leadership session was the fourth in a series with Mexico. Three other sessions were hosted last year in Mexico City with CIDE, according to Joao Aleixo, assistant secretary of international affairs responsible for covering Latin America. Aleixo added that Yale faculty or alumni were present at all sessions, both teaching and leading discussions.

Topics of discussion for last weekend’s leadership session included economic regulation, environmental management and health care access — issues that George Joseph, assistant secretary for international affairs and leadership programs, said “Mexico and the world are focusing on.”

Joseph added that the goal of the weekend leadership program was not to present the University as having definitive answers to important problems, but instead to show how different topics of global governance are addressed in other parts of the world. He added that the 22 participants represented a “critical leadership strata” across Mexican government and civil society. Participants included Mexican Supreme Court members, governors of various Mexican states, ministers, academics, members of congress and private sector leaders, according to Aleixo.

“Not [all participants] are economics or health professionals — their responsibilities within Mexico vary,” Joseph said. “The goal was to expose participants of different perspectives and different ways of thinking about the issues.”

Faculty members that taught last weekend’s leadership sessions included Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81, former Mexican President who currently directs the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, John Gaddis, director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, and Thomas Pogge, professor of philosophy and international affairs.

Zedillo said he spoke to the group of Mexican leaders about “the mismatch” between the fast-paced intensification of globalization and the slower evolution of international cooperation. He added that participants commented that the program was “stimulating and valuable.”

“Given the level of the Mexican individuals attending the program, I think this sets an excellent high bar for future undertakings and will favor more attractive initiatives that will allow Yale to develop a relationship with Mexico congruent with the enormous importance that Mexico has for the U.S. and vice versa,” Zedillo said.

In addition to interacting with faculty members, the program attendees also met with Arturo Sarukhan, Ambassador of Mexico to the U.S., and Carlos M. Sada, Consul General of Mexico in New York.

Planning for the weekend’s program began three years ago when the Office of International Affairs decided it wanted to develop a leadership program for Mexico similar to the ones it has offered for countries like China and India since 2004, Joseph said. He added that Yale chose CIDE, a leading social science research center in Mexico, as the project’s international partner, and CIDE representatives first visited Yale 18 months ago to discuss the project. Once the Office of International Affairs knew who the program’s participants would be, Joseph said, planning began on what topics would be covered.

Aleixo and Joseph said that engaging with Mexico is a strategic priority for Yale given the political, economic and cultural importance of the U.S.-Mexico relationship. As the first leadership program with a Latin American partner, Joseph added that last weekend’s session opens the door to further collaboration with Latin American countries and institutions. He said that Yale is planning to conduct a leadership program with Argentina later this spring and hopes to hold a program with Brazil as well.

The discussions for this weekend’s program were held at the Greenberg Conference Center on Prospect Street.