Latin American Studies (LAS) is an interdisciplinary program that integrates courses in the social sciences and the humanities. LAS brings together different methods of inquiry to better understand the cultures, societies and environments of Latin America, and explores the continuing importance of Latin America in a global context. Faculty members from several disciplines including anthropology, environmental studies, history, politics, and literary and cultural studies contribute to the major. Courses focus on Latin America from initial European encounters to the present and examine various countries in this diverse area of the world that includes Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Students in the program also consider the ongoing relevance of the interactions of the region’s indigenous population with people coming from Europe, Africa, and Asia for more than half a millennium.
The program in Latin American Studies has the following goals and objectives:
- Foster in students a love for Latin America by increasing their knowledge of the complexity of the region and an understanding of their positioning in relation to it.
- Broaden students’ worldviews and challenge ethnocentric attitudes by expanding their understanding of diversity and difference in today’s world.
- Promote students’ global fluency by cultivating empathy and by teaching the tools necessary to communicate across cultures.
- Develop both a broad appreciation and fine-grained understanding of the region’s historical and contemporary dimensions, including but not limited to: encounter, conquest, colonization, enslavement, resistance, negotiation, revolution, state-building, and globalization.
- Encourage sustained exploration of race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and religion in the shaping of historical and contemporary Latin America.
- Foster interdisciplinary inquiry through different methodologies associated with such inquiry.
- Teach critical thinking skills and strong oral, written and visual communication.
With a degree in Latin American Studies, Bates graduates work in many fields, such as US, Latin American or international government work, international business, education, international development, the non-profit sector (e.g., environment, human rights, health), journalism, the arts, and scientific research.