Latin American Studies, or LAS, examines the culture, language, society, experiences, religion, history, and politics of Latin Americans. LAS is interdisciplinary in form and includes economics, gender studies, political science, sociology, geography, and literature. LAS is associated with Latino Studies as well as with Caribbean and Transatlantic Studies.
The relevance of LAS cannot be underestimated at this time when sufficiency of a single language, static cultures, and confining geographical boundaries are increasingly transcended. A degree in LAS will equip the graduate to work across geopolitical and disciplinary borders because the core courses provide a solid foundation in history, culture, economics, politics, and additional languages.
Students of LAS work on their writing, critical thinking, reading, and objective analysis skills, evaluating skills, and the understanding and appreciation of interrelationships of ideas and events from both the North American and Latin American perspectives. LAS students are also taught calculated predictions of patterns and trends in politics, economics, and international relations of Latin America.
Because employers in the 21st century are focusing on the individual’s versatility of learned skills as an alternative measure of not only acquired education but aptitude potential, a degree in LAS opens many opportunities for employment. The LAS graduate can work with international organizations such as Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders, and the World Wildlife Fund, Habitat for Humanity, among others.
Jobs that Will Need LAS Graduates
The LAS degree holder can also develop a career in public policy, social work, international finance, import and export trading, education, and community affairs overseas. Not to mention the diplomatic corps as trade, economic or cultural attaché, as interpreter, translator, conflict mediator, journalist, business consultant, and overseas liaison for commerce.
He/she can also work as an archivist, federal agent, customer relations officer, public administrator, nonprofit manager, intelligence officer, ambassador, public relations consultant, museum curator, hospitality services provider, marketing representative, cultural affairs officer, immigration official, law enforcement personnel, event organizer, and consul.
LAS is typically a major under the liberal arts undergraduate program of a college or university and will require a working knowledge of the Spanish language. Because of the increasing Latin population in not only the U.S. but in Canada as well, the need for trained individuals with excellent knowledge both of Latin American countries and the North American region has become inevitable.
Schools that Offer LAS as a Major
Oberlin College and the Kent State University campuses of Ashtabula, Salem, Geauga, Trumbull, Stark, East Liverpool, and Kent offer LAS as a major in their liberal arts degree programs. Dartmouth College, the American University, Brigham Young University, the University of Texas-Austin, Georgetown University, the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and the University of New Mexico all offer LAS as a bachelor’s degree.
Graduate school programs are typically suggested for those who have already obtained their bachelor’s degrees in LAS. The best graduate schools that offer advanced LAS include the University of California-San Diego, George Washington University, Fordham University, Tulane University, Vanderbilt University, Cornell University, and the Universities of New Mexico and Arizona.