Skip to content ↓

Catalyst/Catalizador / Mexico

16 July 2018

27 June - 16 July 2018

When accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos urged world leaders to rethink the War on Drugs, calling it perhaps more harmful than all the wars in the world combined. Catalyst brings 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'll 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 a final presentation 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 their 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, Catalyst will assist you in arranging: 
A year-long mentorship with an activist from your region upon your return home

Cost: $3.000 USD (not including flights to/from Mexico City and travel insurance) 

Scholarship availability: Full need, based financial aid is available to all successful participants. 

Location: Tepoztlán, Mexico 

Eligibility: Candidates eligible to apply for CATALYST 2018 will be:

  • 15-17 years old
  • English or Spanish speaking (or both!)
  • From a country in North or South America
  • 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 

*Our understanding of the War on Drugs and its effects is broad: mass-incarceration; racist policing practices; overdoses and addictions; gang-violence; state violence; guerrilla violence;(para)militarization; disappearances and human rights abuses; migration/displacement caused by drug-related violence; insecurity; organized crime; corruption; drug cropping; drug trafficking; etc. If you or the community you come from have been touched by any of these or related phenomena either directly or indirectly, in our eyes, you're from a community that has been affected by the War on Drugs. 

Dates: June 27-July 16, 2018

Contact Details: Theo Di Castri, Director: 



You have not allowed cookies and this content may contain cookies.

If you would like to view this content please