Are you interested in exploring the Amazonian rainforest? How are Latin American nations dealing with the contagious diseases? Do you want to know more about the people that built the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal or Palenque? How did soccer become so popular in Latin America, but why do Dominicans and Cubans love baseball more? Why is China so interested in economic opportunities in Latin America? These are the questions that spur students to take classes in Latin American Studies.
Latin American nations account for almost two thirds of the total population of the Western Hemisphere. Today, Latinos and Latin-Americans represent the largest minority group in the United States, accounting for sixteen percent of the population. Knowledge of Latin American and Caribbean cultures, environment, and society are crucial to U.S. hemispheric relations and world understanding. For over fifty years, the Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies (CLACS) has provided KU students the opportunity to study this region and its peoples and encourage the development of foreign language, research, writing, and critical thinking skills.
Diverse Student Interests
There are many different combinations and paths to choose from, providing you the opportunity to sculpt your education to suit your needs and interests.
As an interdisciplinary program, we teach you how to critically examine Latin America and the Caribbean and its diverse populations by exposing them to different frameworks of study each offering a unique critical lens. Latin American & Caribbean Studies offers students interested in Latin America the opportunity to take a wide range of classes drawing from different departments and disciplines.
A student interested in environmental issues in Latin America or the Caribbean might take classes in History, Environmental Studies, and Anthropology. Another student might take classes in Spanish and Portuguese, Music, and Film and Media Studies to explore contemporary Latin American film and theater.
With more than 100 core, affiliate, and research faculty members associated with the Center, you will cultivate a knowledge of Latin America and the Caribbean that will help you develop cultural fluency, intellectual flexibility, problem-solving skills, and a breadth of knowledge about Latin America. Most majors further their education by participating in study abroad, and have the opportunity to study languages of the region, including the indigenous ones.
The program offers a range of opportunities for students from most academic disciplines to study this region. KU has particular depth in Central America, Mexico, Haiti, the Andes, Paraguay, and Brazil and professors and courses concerned with much of the rest of Latin America. KU has an excellent library collection on Latin America and is one of the few U.S. universities teaching Haitian Creole, Andean Kichwa, and the Miskitu language of the Central American coast.
Prospective majors should begin language study in Spanish and Portuguese as early as possible, or choose from indigenous languages specific to an area of interest. The intensive language program is recommended for those without high school preparation. Core courses in Latin American and Caribbean Studies have been certified as meeting KU Core learning outcomes, enabling majors to complete significant portions of their general education requirements within the major.
What Kind of Job Can I Get?
The Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies is committed to helping you enrich your understanding of the world today, which will allow you to distinguish yourself among peers and colleagues. Many U.S. employers have a strong interest in Latin America and value employees who speak its languages and understand its cultures.
Training in Latin American & Caribbean Studies provides graduates with a diverse skill set applicable to many different career paths. The emphasis on critical thinking, analysis, and interdisciplinary approaches make LACS graduates valued voices in businesses, non-governmental organizations, public service, and education.
Through the diverse courses offered within Latin American Studies, you gain important cultural competencies that can serve you well on the job market. With the ever increasing number of Latinos and Latin-Americans and growing ties between the United States and our Latin American neighbors, Latin American Studies majors will play an important role in bridging the cultural divides that has impeded connections across the Western Hemisphere.
Although you may choose to single major, you may find that double majoring in Latin American & Caribbean Studies (LACS) and another discipline makes you particularly attractive to employers. Students who combine LACS with journalism can work for newspapers, radio and television stations, and advertising agencies that serve major Latina/o urban centers in the United States, Latin American countries and regional Latina/o communities. A double major with business or social welfare prepares students to work with companies or social service agencies that serve Latin American customers or clients. Other students complement their LACS major with a second major in fields such as business, law, medicine, environmental studies, geography, sociology history, political science, Spanish, economics, or anthropology.
Some Latin American & Caribbean Area Studies graduates go on for advanced degrees in those disciplines or in business, education, or journalism where they use their knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese languages and cultures to develop a special career niche for themselves. Like many fields in the liberal arts, Latin American & Caribbean Studies helps students build a broad background of knowledge, strengthen writing and critical thinking skills, and develop the flexibility of thought that today's constantly changing workplace requires.