A student interviews children.

Cronkite Borderlands Initiative

Our students cover issues important to the Southwest, including immigration and Indigenous communities, and tell the stories of borders near and far.

Telling the stories of our borders

Arizona State University’s charter inspires the university community to assume fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves. The Cronkite School is proud to serve our border, Indigenous and bilingual communities by telling their stories, and by participating in a university-wide initiative to and enhance our recruitment and retention efforts toward building a faculty fully reflective of the Southwest Borderlands’ diversity.

The Cronkite News Borderlands reporting team covers border, immigration and Indigenous issues across Arizona, with coverage appearing on Arizona PBS (which reaches 1.9 million households across the state) and across more than 100 other media outlets.

In the classroom, Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor Fernanda Santos, a columnist for The Washington Post and a former Phoenix bureau chief for The New York Times, teaches an advanced bilingual reporting course in which students cover a range of topics in Latino communities using a combination of audio, video, text, photo and graphic elements. Her students’ work includes reporting on the threats to the San Pedro River, a cross-border body of water that is among the most diverse ecosystems in the U.S.; a story on the immigrants and children of immigrants who are star athletes at a high school on the Arizona side of the border; and reporting in English and Spanish on Middle Easterners and North Africans in the 2020 Census.

Rick Rodriguez, the former executive editor of The Sacramento Bee and the first Latino president of the American Society of News Editors, teaches a seminar called “Latino and Transnational Issues,” which provides an in-depth examination of cross-border dynamics. Rodriguez also teaches an advanced reporting class in the spring semester, which includes a trip to report on border issues abroad. 

The Southwest Borderlands Initiative receives generous funding from The Howard G. Buffett Foundation and has benefitted thanks to support from the Adelaida and Barry Severson Cronkite Global Initiatives fund. Students pursuing reporting projects abroad and in border communities may also benefit from financial assistance provided by the Angela and Bill Silcock Global Experience Fund.

Browse student border projects reported abroad: Panama: Migrants’ Toughest Test (2020) | Puerto Rico: Restless & Resilient (2018) | Queretaro: Promise of Prosperity for Mexico (2017) | Hungary: Europe’s Borderland (2016) | Nicaragua: Channeling the Future (2015) | Chiapas: State of Revolution (2014) | Two Borders (2013) | Puerto Rico: Unsettled Territory (2012) | Stateless in the Dominican Republic | South Africa: At the Crossroads of Hate and Hope | South Africa Documentary | Borderlands Photo Essays | Divided Families | Divided Families Documentary | Children of the Borderlands | South Africa Project (2008)