Welcome from Chair
Welcome to the Latin American and Latino Studies department. Our emerging field of study focuses on the peoples, cultures, societies and institutions of the Americas. We are interested in the historical, political, economic, social, and cultural forces and processes that are shaping, transcending and transforming borders in the hemisphere. We focus on immigration, social inequalities, cultural expression and collective action. In our research and teaching, our cross-border perspective draws both from Latina/o Studies, which emerged from ethnic studies approaches, and Latin American Studies, a field defined by an area studies approach.
The UCSC LALS Department began in 1971-72 as the Latin American Studies Program. In 1994, the name was changed to Latin American and Latino Studies, becoming one of the first programs to bridge area studies and ethnic studies approaches. In 2001, we became a full academic department. LALS is based in the Division of Social Sciences, though our approach also involves a strong focus on cultural studies, history and the humanities. Our department offers both an undergraduate major and minor, as well as combined majors with the departments of Global Economics, Literature, Politics and Sociology (with possibly more to come). Many LALS majors choose either the combined or double major pathway, which allows them to combine our interdisciplinary approach with an academic discipline. Many of our students also take advantage of opportunities to do hands-on field studies and internships, or study in the Education Abroad and UCDC programs.
Our core LALS faculty were trained in fields including Anthropology, Sociology, Ethnic Studies, Communications, History, and Political Science. In addition to our core LALS faculty of eleven, 17 professors in a very wide range of other UCSC divisions and departments are involved as “participating faculty,” and another 33 faculty are also affiliated with LALS. Most of their courses count automatically towards the LALS major.
Our undergraduate students follow diverse paths, going on to become teachers, lawyers, media professionals, scholars, community organizers, social workers, translators, health care promoters and urban planners. As products of a public university committed to serving the people of California, our students are trained to promote understanding and inclusion across social divides by becoming effective cross-cultural communicators. This requires developing the skills needed to communicate professionally in Spanish (or Portuguese) as well as English – on paper, online and in person.
Beginning in 2004, we began a graduate emphasis in LALS for PhD students in Anthropology, History, History of Consciousness, Literature, Psychology, Politics, Sociology and Environmental Studies. As of the fall of 2011, 27 PhD students have worked towards the LALS graduate emphasis. Ten of them have now completed the Ph.D. We are also developing what would be the first-ever PhD program in LALS, and 22 UCSC faculty have signed on as participants. Our proposal has been approved by the UCSC administration and is now under review at the UC system-wide level.
As the incoming Chair of the Department, I encourage you to learn more about Latin American and Latino Studies by enrolling in one of our courses, by becoming an LALS major or minor, or by applying for the graduate emphasis in LALS. Feel free to come by and visit our offices in Merrill College whenever you have time. My office hours are Tuesdays, 10-12, and by appointment.
Con mis atentos saludos,