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Catalyst / Mexico

1 August 2019

1 - 20 July 2019 

Catalyst 2019 will bring together high school students from communities that have been affected by the War on Drugs from across the Americas to rethink the complex topics of drugs, drug policy and drug-related violence. Through daily interactive workshops, lectures and discussions, you’ll explore how your own personal stories are connected to those of your peers and to the larger historical narratives that have given rise to the War on Drugs. You will also explore how the systems of your body help shape (and are shaped by) the behaviour of larger systems such as the global economy, the law and the government.

To these ends, the Catalyst curriculum covers the following main topics: 

  • Drugs and the body: the neurobiology of drug use and abuse
  • The history of the War on Drugs
  • The geopolitics of the drug economy
  • The actors and institutions of the War on Drugs

In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of the War on Drugs, you'll walk away from the program with new skills that will help you communicate the knowledge generated by you and your peers into thoughtful action and advocacy strategies.

To this end, afternoons at Catalyst will be dedicated to: 

  • Discussions with a broad range of experienced activists within the drug policy reform movement
  • Skill-building and advocacy training workshops through interdisciplinary arts programming
  • The collective creation of an exhibition that will be showcased at a public event in Mexico City
  • The development of a personal action plan to implement a year-long community project upon your return home

Your participation in Catalyst will not end at the close of your three weeks in Mexico. Graduating from Catalyst marks the beginning of your ongoing involvement in a dynamic and growing network of young people from across the Americas who are committed to rethinking drug policy. In order to sustain the discussions that begin at Catalyst and to provide you with guidance as you implement your personal action plan, the Catalyst team will engage you in a year-long mentorship program and ongoing learning opportunities.  


Dates: 1 - 20 July 2019 
Location: Tepoztlán, Mexico
Application information: 
Applicants for Catalyst 2019 will be solicited by invitation only. Please email if you are interested in applying or want to nominate a student. 

Candidates for CATALYST 2019 will be:

  • 15-17 years old
  • English or Spanish speaking (or both!)
  • From Colombia, Mexico or the US 
  • From a community affected by the war on drugs*
  • An active member of their community
  • Able to attend the full duration of the course
  • Curious, creative, mature and with an interest in issues related to the War on Drugs. 

Catalyst 2019 will also include a parallel session for high school educators interested in working with our curriculum in their classrooms. If you are a high school educator (formal or non-formal) who is teaching in a community affected by the War on Drugs and are interested in learning more about our teacher training program, please get in touch:
Course fee: $3,000 USD
Eligibility: Students aged 15 - 17 years (see above)
Scholarship availability: Financial aid can be provided according to need.

Email address: 


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