About Latin American, Latino/a, and Caribbean Studies

What is Latin American, Latino/a and Caribbean Studies (LAS)

Latin American, Latino/a and Caribbean Studies (LAS), in the Department of Global and Intercultural Studies, offers a major and minor that explore Latin American and Caribbean cultures, economies, social and political systems, literature, art, music, history, and geography across the hemisphere. Opportunities to study abroad and to engage with Latin American communities in Ohio promote the active application of international knowledge to vital issues in today's changing world.

Major in Latin American Latino/a & Caribbean Studies

City of Cienfuegos, Cuba (study tour Cuba in Transition 2018)

Latin American Latino/a & Caribbean Studies offers an interdisciplinary major based in mutually enriching perspectives in the humanities, fine arts, social and physical sciences. See also the LAS minor page.

Courses examine and analyze Latin American and Caribbean cultures, economies, social and political systems, literature, art, music, history, and geography across the hemisphere.

Opportunities to study abroad and to engage with Latin American communities in Ohio promote the active application of international knowledge to issues vital to today's changing world.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will attain familiarity with Latin American and Latino cultures and experiences that lead them to act as informed and engaged global citizen.
  2. Students will be able to discern the validity of popular and scholarly sources and arguments addressing contentious Latin American and Latino issues.
  3. Students will be able to select appropriate disciplinary and interdisciplinary methodologies, identify useful sources, and collect necessary data to complete a significant analytical research project.
  4. Students will present persuasively and accurately the results of their research in written and oral formats aimed at various audiences.

Writing in LAS

2020 graduate Paul Rocha with faculty members Juan-Carlos Albarrán and Elena Albarrán

This resource provides a brief introduction to writing in the field of Latin American, Latino/a, and Caribbean Studies through the lens of threshold concepts. It includes:

  1. an overview of what writing characteristics are valued in LAS
  2. examples of the varied writing genres and practices common in LAS
  3. a brief discussion of how writing in LAS develops critical consciousness

What Are Core Values in LAS?

The Latin American, Latino/a and Caribbean Studies Program at Miami University brings together faculty and research interests from across academic disciplines to study the histories, politics, cultures, and societies of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinx communities in the United States. Our program embraces research, linguistic knowledge, fieldwork, and direct engagement as essential to critical consciousness and empowerment. By engaging with diverse writing genres and practices, our students learn about the changing political, social, economic and cultural realities of the hemisphere, including:

  • imperialism, nationalism, and regionalism
  • transnationalisms, migrations, and displacements
  • collective action, social movement, and social change
  • intersectionality, identities, and inequalities
  • culture-, power-, knowledge-production
  • engaged citizenship and community empowerment

Through a scaffolded, problem-solving approach to writing, students acquire and strengthen skills in any of the following areas: business, commerce, community advocacy, public policy, health care, education, journalism, media, and higher education.

How Do the Variety of Genres Offered throughout the Curriculum Develop These Values?

LAS students are introduced to a variety of writing genders at different levels across courses. The writing genres of our gateway courses, LAS 208, LAS 254, and LAS 260, introduce historical perspective, contemporary awareness, and an array of core concepts necessary to study the region and its diaspora. Depending on the course, students get familiarized with writing interviews, cultural reviews, personal reflections, audiovisual presentations, and website content to gain a critical perspective of the region and its diaspora.

Students continue to build on the core concepts on LAS 217 and 243, courses developed around broad themes, such as nationalism, imperialism, and slavery. In general, the writing assignments for these courses take the form of primary source analysis, response papers, and brief essays that do not involve independent research. Through them students gain the ability to offer an informed interpretation of primary evidence, identify different methodological perspectives, and appreciate how knowledge is produced.

The specialized courses at the 300 level are country specific or organized around a narrow theme. Students of LAS 315, 319, 332, 360, 385, and 390 build a foundation and literacy in research methods. Writing assignments in these courses foster students' ability to identify a scholarly conversation, to formulate their own arguments, and to locate both arguments in the context of the field. In these courses, students may write an annotated bibliography to define the shape of scholarship on a subject and develop advanced library skills, a podcast script or debate presentation to translate a scholarly argument in an oral form to a non-academic audience, a community-based project to integrate academic goals and experiential learning, or an interpretive toolkit essay to examine the various methods and narratives scholars have used to approach the topic.

In the capstone course students design, implement, and write an original research project based on primary sources or fieldwork. Capstone students learn to become particularly attuned to the different writing genres—and audiences—that different disciplines and professions employ to address an issue or problem, and to begin to imagine alternative futures. Students demonstrate awareness of the ways that different genres reach different audiences and learn to master conveying an idea across a range of registers. Examples of genres include a policy recommendation, a community action project, public scholarship in the form of a blog post or pamphlet, visual scholarship in the form of film or a poster, or a research paper.

How Does Writing in LAS Develop Critical Consciousness and Engaged Citizenship?

Through writing in LAS, students critically engage various sources, including:

  • scholarly texts
  • art
  • songs
  • historical documents
  • public presentations
  • personal narratives
  • material culture (objects)
  • study abroad experiences

Engaging with these types of sources helps students to understand them within their respective historical, cultural, linguistic, and political contexts. In free writing exercises, formal academic expositions, policy briefs, and blog posts, students grasp the "big picture," positioning empires, hierarchies of power, and the politics of scale at the core of everyday life for Latin American and Caribbean peoples across the world.

This practice of writing not only allows students to understand the systemic injustices faced by Latin American and Caribbean people, but also fosters a critical consciousness of our own positionalities within these structures of power. We hope that by recognizing that their own narratives are emerging within the context of the United States, students are able to develop a sense of social responsibility and compassion for others, leading them to direct action and engagement with advocacy, policy, or activist efforts across a range of civil, human, and environmental rights issues.

This writing guide was developed by the LAS Junta Democrática with the generous support of the Howe Center for Writing Excellence.

Alejandro A. Garrote Memorial Scholarship

Scholarships in memory of LAS student Alejandro Garrote are awarded annually, contingent on the availability of funds and on the student demonstrating financial need (a FAFSA for the current year must be on file), to LAS majors and minors desiring to study in abroad, mainly Latin America.

The Garrote Scholarship is open to outstanding undergraduates who seek an opportunity to advance scholarship in Latin American, Latino/a and Caribbean Studies. The goals of the scholarship are to:

  • give undergraduates experience with active research
  • promote collaboration with LAS faculty and affiliates
  • facilitate attending LAS-related workshops

Amount of the fellowship varies, but in the past students have received between $250 and $1,500 to fund their projects.

An eligible student must:

  • be a LAS major or minor
  • have a FASFA on file (need-bases scholarship)
  • participate in a for-credit program

Applying

Application materials are:

  • description of your project or workshop
  • explanation of your overall career goal
  • name and email of a reference
  • current resume

Submit your application materials by email to Juan Carlos L. Albarrán (albarrjl@MiamiOH.edu). Please use "GARROTE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION" in the subject line of your message.

Applications are accepted and awards are given on a rotating basis throughout the school year. Contact a LAS Advisor for more information:

Minor in Latin American Latino/a & Caribbean Studies

Latin American Latino/a & Caribbean Studies (LAS) offer an interdisciplinary minor that is open to all students and is a valuable complement to a wide range of majors. Students may enroll in the program by declaring intent with an LAS advisor. See also LAS major page.

All students must complete at least 18 credit hours. In addition to taking an introductory LAS course, students must take 6 additional credits of LAS courses, or their cross-listed equivalents, as part of their core courses, including at least one LAS course at the 300-level or higher. At least 9 credit hours that count toward the LAS minor must come from outside of the student's major.

The Garrote Scholarship is open to outstanding undergraduates who seek an opportunity to advance scholarship in Latin American, Latino/a and Caribbean Studies. For more information see the LAS Major page.

More about Latin American Latino/a & Caribbean Studies

The LAS program highly values study abroad and study away in all contexts. Each year Miami offers numbers of Summer and/or Winter term workshops in such locations as the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, and Peru. LAS students are encouraged to study in programs offered by other universities and organizations.

Capstone Project

The blog posts are the result of our semester-based, interdisciplinary inquiry in the senior capstone course: Child and Nation in Latin America.

Careers

Introduction to Latin America (LAS 208) students prepare for the Global Rhythms World Music program.

The Latin American, Latino/a and Caribbean Studies (LAS) program provides students with a broad range of highly sought after liberal arts competencies and tools to succeed across a spectrum of career choices.

Recent students have gone to work for:

  • US government
  • state and local governments
  • nonprofit sector
  • community organizations
  • international organizations
  • businesses working in both the US and internationally

See also:

Career Planning Steps

When students declare an LAS major, we encourage them to complete a series of experiences that we think will help students to both explore possible careers and increase their attractiveness as future job candidates. To that end, we hope that all LAS majors will be able to complete at least 4 of the 5 steps below between the time of declaring a major and graduating from Miami.

  1. Visit the Center for Career Exploration and Success in Hoyt Hall. During that visit, students should sign up for a listserv of job and internship opportunities that is closest to their career interest, as well as explore the variety of resources available through the Career Services.
  2. Students should attend at least one workshop/panel offered by LAS, another interdisciplinary program, or related department focused on career or graduate/professional school opportunities after Miami. You will receive notices of upcoming workshops through the LAS majors and minors listserv.
  3. Students should have at least one LAS experience in an area of study abroad/study away, internship, or independent study that can be used as an example of workplace skills and competencies that would strengthen your application for future employment.
  4. Students should attend at least one career event held on campus each year. Opportunities range from Career Fair (as a full participant or observer), informational meetings about things such as Peace Corps or Teach for America, and campus talks by people working in a field that might be of interest.
  5. As part of students' culmination course (required for the LAS major), students will complete an assignment which links learning outcomes in the LAS major to the skills sought by employers in their field of interest.

Students are encouraged to meet with LAS faculty for more information about any of the above experiences or just to brainstorm about how their interest in Latin American and Latino studies might be related to future employment opportunities.

Faculty

Core Faculty

Albarrán, Juan Carlos (Chief Deparmental Advisor)

Albarrán, Elena Jackson

Amador de Jesús, José

Vanderbush, Walt 

LAS Committee

LAS faculty and staff after a meeting

The Latin American, Latino/a and Caribbean Studies Committee brings together faculty, staff and students who have scholarly, teaching and personal interests in Latin America, the Caribbean region, and Latino/a issues in the United States.

Androne, Helane Adams (English, Middletown Campus)

conducts research that includes comparative study of Latina and African American women's fiction, with emphasis on ritual as an analytical paradigm for comparison.
[PhD, University of Washington]

Berman, Mary Jane (emerita, Anthropology)

conducts research on the archaeology of the Bahamas and Cuba, with a focus on paleoethnoaeobotany and environmental archaeology. The Center for American and World Cultures promotes inclusion, equity, and global education through classes and co-curricular programming such as lectures, discussions, festivals, film series, read-ins, and conferences.
[PhD, SUNY-Binghamton]

Brandyberry, Erin (Coordinator of Global Programs, Global Initiatives)

is working on expanding international study in Latin America. She is interested in coordinating cross-cultural competencies and experiences for students, and in facilitating the development of faculty-led study abroad workshops.
[MSEd, Old Dominion University]

Brown-Manrique, Gerardo  (Architecture)

was born in México and has lived in Cuba. Gerardo researches modern and contemporary European architecture and his interests include Latin American cultural background and its contemporary expressions in architecture, music and art.
[M.Arch., Cornell University]

Castañeda, Martha  (Teacher Education)

has interests that include the preparation of language teachers, uses of technology in the language classroom, and the preparation of generalist teachers to work with English Language Learners. Martha offers a summer language course in Honduras.
[PhD, University of South Florida]

Davis, Darrel (Educational Psychology)

was born in Belize and returns as often as possible. He provides support for the Miami-Honduras workshop and plans to start a workshop in Belize. Darrel is interested in all things Technology.
[PhD, University of South Florida]

Del Río-Tsonis, Katia  (Biology)

teaches developmental biology and cancer biology and directs student research. Katia's research focuses on determining the cellular and molecular mechanisms of tissue regeneration.
[PhD, National University of México]

Fowler-Cordova, Katie (Spanish and Portuguese)

teaches a Spanish civic-engagement class, a course for Spanish Heritage Learners as well as other intermediate-advanced Spanish language courses. Katie's interests include integrating the community into the classroom, the Latin American diaspora in the United States and curriculum development for Heritage Learners.
[MA, University of Arizona]

Garcia, Thomas Caracas (Music)

teaches Latin American music, Brazilian culture, ethnomusicology and popular music. His research and performance interests span the classical-popular continuum in Latin American music, and the music of Heitor Villa-Lobos.
[PhD, Duke University]

Gibson, Katie (King Library)

is Information Services Librarian and liaison to the LAS Program. Katie supports students and faculty in their studies and research.

Gnivecki, Perry (emeritus, Anthropology)

conducts archaeological research in Cuba, Peru, US, and Bahamas, where he directs a field-school. Perry studies the emergence of complex societies, neotropical island archaeology and ecology, and human spatial organization.
[PhD, SUNY Binghamton]

Hernández, Daisy (English)

researches and writes on Latina immigrant communities in the U.S. and lectures on Latina and women of color feminism
[MFA, University of Miami]

Ianes, Raúl (Spanish and Portuguese)

is from Montevideo, Uruguay, and he has lived and studied in Argentina. His teaching and research is focused on 19th century Latin America, with particular interests in history, memory, and national subjectivity in relation to literature and culture, as well as uneven Latin American transitions to modernity.
[PhD, University of Pennsylvania]

Kuykendoll, Megan (Family Studies and Social Work, Hamilton Campus)

teaches a course on child development that examines the influence and impact of cultural, environmental and familial factors on children's developmental outcomes. She incorporates topics such as bilingualism/multilingualism, immigrant families, and the diversity of cultural norms into the larger discussion of child development.
[MS, Miami University]

Motta, David (Spanish and Portuguese)

teaches Spanish and English Linguistics along with other intermediate Spanish language courses. David's interests and studies include morphology and dialectal variations across Latin America.
[ML, Universidad de Costa Rica]

Offenburger, Andrew (History)

specializes in the history of the American West, the U.S.-Mexican borderlands, and comparative frontiers. He has an ongoing interest in Mexico and the Southern Cone.
[PhD, Yale University]

Prádanos (Iñaki), Luis I. (Spanish and Portuguese)

focuses on ecocritical theory, posthumanism, and environmental humanities, ecological economics and political ecology, network and systems theory, digital culture, and global studies.
[PhD, Texas Tech University]

Rioja Velarde, Jacqueline  (Center for American and World Cultures)

is a Peruvian geographer. Jacque develops and implements co-curricular programs including the UniDiversity program, Latin American and Caribbean Festival, Human Rights and Social Justice Program, and Study Abroad, among others.
[MA, Syracuse University]

Schaeffer, Paul J. (Biology)

travels to Brazil and Central America to study bird and reptile biology in tropical forests. He is interested in tropical conservation and development.
[PhD, Northern Arizona University]

Student Organizations

UNIDOS members accept an award for advancing diversity and inclusion on Miami's campus.

UNIDOS

UNIDOS is an organization centered around education about and appreciation for Latinx and Hispanic culture on campus and beyond. The organization's members focus on activism, volunteering, and appreciating the diversity within the Latinx community. The organization is open to all and is committed to making Miami a better place for Latinx and Hispanic students.

Support the Program

The Latin American, Latino/a, and Caribbean Studies (LAS) Program at Miami University is committed to helping students gain a better understanding of the historical, cultural, economic, and political experiences, and environmental challenges, of Latin American and Caribbean people. The LAS Program provides educational enrichment to a wide range of students. Opportunities include the LAS Major, Minor, Study Abroad Workshops, Thematic Sequences, and Miami Plan Foundation courses. LAS is committed to providing our students with the necessary tools and experiences to be successful in their careers and as global citizens.

Through the generosity of donors to the LAS Program, we can continue to expand opportunities for Miami students to learn about and experience Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino/a issues in the U.S. Please consider how valuable a resource the LAS Program is to Miami University students and help us continue these efforts with a gift.

There are several ways you can help us.

Unrestricted Gifts

These gifts allow us to apply your gift to the area of greatest need.

Designated Gifts

  • Sponsor Symposia/Lecture Series on issues and scholarship in LAS
  • Assistance to students who struggle to purchase textbooks for classes
  • Scholarships to our very best students
  • Grants to offset travel expenses for students to study in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • A classroom enrichment fund to enhance the LAS resource library
  • Travel grants for faculty for research activities

Make a Gift