Latin American, Latino/a, and Caribbean Studies Major

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: