Program Overview

The Latin American and Latino Studies Concentration at JCU is multidisciplinary. Bringing together the courses relevant to the study of Latin American culture, social structure, politics, and history, the goal of this concentration is to offer students the opportunity to develop a basic level of expertise in Latin American studies. A student who completes the concentration enhances his or her liberal arts education with a foreign area specialization. Depending upon the particular major, this concentration will prepare a student for advanced study at the graduate level or for a career in business, journalism, government, or private development organizations.

The concentration is administered by the Latin American and Latino Studies Concentration Committee (LALSCC). The LALSCC is composed of faculty from several departments in the College of Arts and Sciences. The co-coordinators are Drs. Gloria Vaquera of the Department of Sociology and Criminology (x4379) and Megan Thornton of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures (x1797).

Why Latin American and Latino Studies?

As a neighboring region, Latin America has always been a crucial area of interest for the United States. The region’s fundamental importance has been highlighted recently by several significant issues and events.   These include: migration from Latin America to the U.S., political instability related to economic policy shifts, recent “democratization” of many of the region’s political systems; implementation of NAFTA and the emergence of  a “free trade” agreement for the Americas; the development of liberation theology; the growing strength of women’s movements; and the rise of indigenous based social movements.

For students with a strong interest in the peoples, politics, social conditions and cultures of Latin America, the concentration in Latin American and Latino Studies can open the door to a challenging and rewarding career as a Latin American specialist.


The major goal of the Concentration is to enhance student interest and expertise on Latin American peoples and nations and Latinos in the United States. Other objectives are to:

  • Help students develop a multi-disciplinary understanding of culture, history, and  contemporary political and social issues in Latin America.
  • Develop undergraduate programs and activities related to Latin America and Latinos.
  • Encourage and assist student and faculty research in Latin American and Latino studies.
  • Create a forum for the scholarly discussion of Latin American society and culture.

Career Opportunities

The Concentration allows undergraduate students to create a multidisciplinary course of study with a Latin American focus. The Concentration is for students whose goals include:

  • A career with government or international organizations related to Latin America.
  • Work in the private sector, including work with corporations that have a significant share of their activities in Latin America.
  • Employment with organizations working with Latinos in the United States.
  • Service with non-governmental organizations which seek to improve social  welfare and living conditions in Latin America or for migrants in the United States.
  • Graduate studies on Latin America or Latino studies.

Courses, by Department, for the Concentration


  • HS 168 The Border/La Frontera
  • HS170  Introduction to Latin American History and Culture
  • HS273  Colonial Latin American History
  • HS274  Modern Latin American History
  • HS397  Race and Gender in Latin America
  • HS397  Women and the Catholic Church
  • HS497  The Incas
  • HS497   Che Guevara
  • HS497   Resistance to Colonization in the Andes (cross-listed with PO499 Politics of Decolonization)


  • Yucatan Study Trip
  • Costa Rica Study Trip


  • PL380  Philosophy and Latin American Literature

Political Science

  • PO254  Politics of Latin America
  • PO355  Catholicism in Political Development of Latin America
  • PO356  Politics of Mexico
  • PO357  Politics of  Central America
  • PO358  Politics of Brazil
  • PO458  Politics of Development and Underdevelopment
  • PO499 Politics of Decolonization
    (cross-listed with HS497 Resistance to Colonization in the Andes)

Religious Studies

  • RL367  Ethics of Liberation Theology


  • SC353 Latina/o Transnational Experience

Spanish Studies

  • SP307  Popular Cultures of Spanish-Speaking Countries
  • SP312  The Cinema of Latin America
  • SP314  Perspectives on Nations and Cultures of Latin America
  • SP327  Introduction to Latin American Literature I
  • SP328  Introduction to Latin American Literature II
  • IC 370  Hispanic Women Writers
  • SP427  Contemporary Spanish and Latin American Poetry
  • SP436  Contemporary Narrative of Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay
  • SP464 Latin American Short Story
  • SP 330 Hispanic Immigrants in Film, Literature and Music;
  • SP 430 Contemporary Mexican Literature;
  • SP 478 Contemporary Latin American Drama

By Petition:

Any course determined to be appropriate by the LALSC Committee can be used as an elective. This includes courses that are taken while on study abroad programs. It is highly recommended that study abroad courses be cleared for LALSC credit before the student goes abroad.

As a general rule, the committee will approve courses that contain significant content on Latin America or Latinos in the United States. For example, SP307 (Hispanic Popular Culture), SP 310 (Cinema of Spain) or SP 312 (Cinema of Latin America), and SP 315 (Analysis of Literature) will meet this criterion if they devote fifty percent or more of the semester to subjects related to Latin American or Latino Studies.


While requirements are flexible to accommodate students with different interests and majors, the concentration allows and encourages focus.

  1.  Core of the Concentration: (Except for SP301, each course must be from the list of approved courses)
    •  SP301 (along with satisfaction of its prerequisites)
    • At least three courses from History and Political Science with at least one course from either of those disciplines
    • At least one course must be HS 274, PO 254, or SP 314
  2. Electives of the Concentration
  • Nine more hours of courses from the list of approved courses or accepted by the LASC Committee through petition.

The Faculty

The Latin American studies faculty are those professors who are involved in Latin American teaching, research, and programs. Their specializations range from Latin American politics, history, religion, philosophy, culture and literature.  (Those faculty with asterisks by their names are members of the Latin American Studies Concentration Committee.)

For more information please contact Dr. Gloria Vaquera, LALSC Coordinator at or 216.397.4379.