The Latino/a Studies Concentration examines the diverse experiences of peoples who trace their origins to the countries of Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean. The program embraces coursework in a range of disciplines, including American studies, art, English, history, psychology, Spanish, sociology, and women's and gender studies.
Through the use of cultural immersion, ethnic-specific epistemological frameworks, and multidisciplinary perspectives and approaches, this program offers a rich cognitive context to study, analyze, reconstruct, and reflect the Latino/a experience in the United States as well as its wider impact in the world. Through an integrative representation of the experience of this largest (and growing) U.S. minority, the concentration encourages students to understand the multidimensional and vigorous contributions of the Latino/a population to modern history.
This concentration will emphasize service learning, preparing students to link key issues from their coursework to community activities and needs, so as to strengthen their civic awareness and engagement. Research has shown that incorporating well-structured service learning into academic curricula has positive academic, cognitive, attitudinal, career, and personal effects on students. Aiming to shape a personal and public commitment to social justice, the core faculty of the Latino/a Studies Concentration is strongly dedicated to the promotion of service learning as a valuable learning tool to enrich the understanding of the Latino/a experience.
Nepantla, a Nahuatl word referring to "the land in the middle," serves as an epistemological anchor for the concentration-a concept embracing Latino/a "border crossings" and a strategy to defy systemic forms of domination and to negotiate notions of power, identity, and coloniality. By the twentieth century, this notion was transformed into the theoretical approach known as "Border Theory." In keeping with the spirit of nepantla, the concentration will expose students to action-oriented pedagogy and theoretical frameworks, such as border theory, postcolonial studies, and liberation psychology. These alternative pedagogies will enable students to acquire the critical skills to not only understand the culturally diverse histories of Latinos and Latinas in the U.S. but also appreciate Latino/as as significant actors in both global and national history.