About the LALS Department

Our Academic Programs

Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) is an innovative interdisciplinary department grounded in the bridging of the fields of Latino/a/x Studies (ethnic studies) and Latin American Studies (area studies). Our undergraduate and graduate programs in LALS provide students with unique interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives that investigate the historical, economic, social and cultural processes and forces that are shaping and transforming regions across the Américas. 

Founded in 1994 by a visionary collective of faculty from across the UCSC campus who understood the urgency and need for transnational and hemispheric research, the Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) Program became the first of its kind in the world to connect area studies and ethnic studies. The Program offered a major and hired its first two LALS faculty in 1996, its third in 1998, and formally constituted as a department of Latin American and Latino Studies in 2001. In 2014, LALS successfully launched the first PhD program in LALS. Currently the department consists of ten (10) core faculty members and over forty (40) actively affiliated faculty based in other departments across Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.


Curricular Focus

Our curricular offerings focus on four main areas of emphasis: 1.) Transnationalisms, migrations, and displacement 2.) Intersectionality, identities, and inequalities 3.) Collective action, social movements, and social change 4.) Culture, power, and knowledge. Our department offers both an undergraduate major and minor, as well as combined majors with the departments of Politics and Sociology. Many LALS majors choose either the combined or double major pathway, which allows them to combine our interdisciplinary approach with an academic discipline

The major in LALS offers opportunities to pursue careers in education, media, law, social services, health care, public policy, translation, urban planning, and higher education. LALS encourages community service and research opportunities through faculty sponsored internships, awards and scholarships, and study abroad.  


Faculty and Affiliates

Our department consists of ten core faculty with expertise in the social sciences, cultural studies, history, ethnic studies, literature, media, public policy, sociology, anthropology, and politics. More than forty participating and affiliated faculty based in other departments are associated with LALS. Most of their courses count automatically towards the LALS major.

We invite you to explore our website and visit us during office hours.