The Latin American Studies Center (LASC) at the University of Maryland originated as a research center and academic program in 1969. Since then, it has been a dynamic research center on the College Park campus and is well known internationally. In 1996, an undergraduate Latin American Studies Certificate program was established and the first cohort of LASC students signed up in fall 1997 (see our 2014-15 Terrapino for a detailed article on our history). The Certificate program continued in 2017, along with research support, academic presentations, student and faculty conferences, and co-curricular cultural events. The Minor program started in the spring of 2019. The minor helps prepare students for careers related to Latin America.
The mission of the Latin American Studies Center (LASC) is to promote and build a community of students and faculty interested in learning and actively engaging in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latina/o history and culture. It provides a crucial network and central source of administrative, intellectual, and cultural support and inspiration for students and faculty throughout the university, as well as a strategic point of connection between UMD and the nation at large. LASC is a cultural sphere that celebrates the linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity of the university and its community.
LASC promotes diversity and global cultural competence through its academic curriculum and programming, as well as collaborations with and service to the geographic areas surrounding the University of Maryland. LASC is devoted to an interdisciplinary curriculum that expands students’ ability to learn and apply academic knowledge to real life situations. Its curriculum, events, and activities aspire to help create career readiness for graduating students working in the United States and abroad.
What We Offer to Students, Faculty, Community, and Public
I. Undergraduate Certification Program - LASC grants an undergraduate Certificate in Latin American Studies, consisting of 21 credit hours. The interdisciplinary Certificate program in Latin American Studies is open to University of Maryland undergraduates in any major who are interested in Latin America and the Caribbean. The undergraduate Certificate in Latin American Studies will be awarded to students who have successfully completed the 21 credits with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better (see Academics-Certificate Program tab for details).
II. Academic Talks, Panels, and Conferences - Invited talks by UMD and visiting professors and scholars are intended to share research and relevant experiences with students, faculty, and the public. They encourage academic networking and interaction across disciplines and expose students to work being done in other institutions. Some of these events in the history of LASC have included midday “Café Breaks,” guest lectures in LASC classes, and keynote discussion panels.
Annual Student Conference: Until 2015, a graduate student conference, but now also includes undergraduate capstone students, LASC alumni, and artist exhibitions. The first LASC conference occurred in 1995.
Special Topics Conferences: LASC has also organized and hosted a variety of conferences over the years with special topics. Scholars presenting are from the University of Maryland and from other international institutions.
III. Cultural Events and Artistic Performances - LASC sponsored and organized events expose students, faculty, and staff to cultural expressions, political ideologies and policies, economic struggles, and social movements of Latin American and Caribbean countries. They also provide spaces for students and faculty to discuss how these cultures relate directly to populations at the university and transnationally. Our events serve to provide public exposure for LASC, which increases student recruitment, university support, and potentially private support as well. One of LASC’s goals is to promote cultural, linguistic, racial, and ethnic diversity at UMD, and to encourage students to interact and to learn from each other.
IV. Publications -
- LASC Monthly “FYI” Announcements (El Boletín)
- Annual Newsletter Publication (2005-present, now called El Terrapino)
- LASC Working Paper Series (1996-2008)
V. Community Outreach - Outreach projects vary by year, depending on the opportunities and initiative. LASC supports projects that reflect the mission of the center and the university, and especially strive to serve our local communities in Prince George's County and Washington, D.C.
LASC participates in UMD’s “Campus Fabric,” a group of faculty and staff who work to enhance collaborations and work in community engagement. We also actively collaborate and support the Office of Community Engagement at UMD.