|Home|

Frequently Asked  Questions

1) What is the the purpose of the  major and the professional and educational assumptions which underlie it?

2) How does the  major relate to ongoing programs? Will it replace any existing programs? And what is the difference between the Latino Studies major and the Latin American Studies major?

3)  Why is the proposed major needed locally, statewide, or nationally.

4) Have students at the University requested this major?

5) What is the professional orientation of the major? What other institutions offer it?

6)  Describe the potential for collaboration with other institutions.

7) Who is to be served by the Current major?

8) How will the Program be evaluated?

9) What do I have to do to Major or Concentrate in Latino Studies?

 

ANSWERS

1) What is the the purpose of the   major and the professional and educational assumptions which underlie it?

The purpose of the Latino Studies Program is to survey and study the history, culture and social fabric of the Latino populations of the United States. Courses in the program offer students an interdisciplinary perspective on the various Latino communities in the country. The curriculum includes courses placing the Latino experience in the context of U.S., Caribbean and Latin American history, discussing the key socioeconomic and political issues facing Latinos in the U.S., and presenting the Latino expression in literature, music, and art. Students completing the major may pursue graduate studies in Latino Studies or related programs or enter the labor force in a variety of fields demanding experts in the field of Latino Studies (from marketing research firms to nongovernmental organizations serving Latino populations).

2) How does the  major relate to ongoing programs? Will it replace any existing programs?And what is the difference between the Latino Studies major and the Latin American Studies major?

The Latino Studies Program does not replace any existing programs. It will complement and collaborate with a number of other, related programs at the University, including other ethnic and racial studies programs (African American, Asian American, etc.) as well as the Latin American studies program.

To clarify the relationship between Latin American and Latino studies majors: Students at Columbia can currently pursue their interest in Latin American Studies as part of a Regional Studies major. The focus of this Latin American Regional Studies major is on the history and cultures of the countries forming part of Latin America and it is an interdisciplinary program housed in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese with the close coordination of the Institute of Latin American and Iberian Studies at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. The Latin American Studies major’s focus is not on the Latino populations of the United States, which is the focus of the Latino Studies major. As such, Latin American Studies complements Latino Studies, and the presence of both programs at the University is a strength for Columbia. Given the close connection between the Latino population in the U.S. and their countries of origin or ancestry, the Latino Studies Program requires that students majoring or concentrating in Latino Studies take courses in Latin American studies as part of their program of studies.

3) Why is the proposed major needed locally, statewide, or nationally.

Through a long and continuous presence in the American continent that goes back to a period before the creation of the nation, Latino populations have been an integral part of American history. The explosive growth of Latinos in the country over the last 30 years --which will make the group the largest ethnic and racial minority by the year 2010-- has greatly increased its visibility and its influence on the demographics, economics, politics and social structure of the United States. Associated with this growth has been a process of geographical dispersion that has brought together the various Latino populations across the country and has helped to foster the development of a national Latino identity. The Latino Studies Program incorporates these historical trends in a program dedicated to studying the development of the many facets of the Latino populations in the U.S. in the context of U.S., Caribbean and Latin American history.

A Latino Studies major is needed, locally, statewide and nationally, to provide specialized knowledge and information on the Latino population, and to engage in research on issues of particular importance for Latinos in the U.S. It is also needed in response to the demands for majors in Latino Studies currently observed in academia, the private sector and the government.

4) Have students at the University requested this major?

Students at Columbia have requested this major for many years. The creation of such a major was demanded in a letter to the President of the University in March 9, 1995 by the Student Committee for Latin American Studies, with over 350 student signatures in it. It was also part of the request of a broad coalition of students and student groups who struggled in favor of the development of ethnic studies at the University, a struggle which led to a student hunger strike in April 1996.

5) What is the professional orientation of the major? What other institutions offer it?

The Columbia Latino Studies major would be the first of its type at Columbia. There is clearly a need for such a major as a career alternative for students. The demand for students majoring in Latino Studies in part reflects the rise of Latino Studies as a growing field of academic and professional studies. The sixties and seventies saw the emergence of a variety of academic programs dedicated to the study of Latino populations. In 1968, the first Chicano Studies Department was founded at California State College in Los Angeles, and this was followed by the creation of a number of other Chicano and Mexican American Studies Departments or programs at Arizona State University, U.C.L.A., the University of Texas at Austin, etc. The first Program in Puerto Rican Studies was founded at Hunter College of the City University of New York in 1973, followed by the creation of Departments or Programs of Puerto Rican and/or Caribbean Studies at other parts of the City University system, Fordham University, Rutgers University, The State University of New York at Albany, the University of Connecticut, and many others.

In recent years, a number of Programs have slowly emerged in the field of Latino or Hispanic Studies, including the Cornell Latino Studies Program, the University of Michigan Latino/Latina Undergraduate Concentration Program, the Latin American and Latino Studies Program at the University of California at Santa Cruz, among others. Alongside these programs, research centers or programs have been created, at Universities and foundations (a list of these research programs is attached as Appendix 1). Professional organizations have also developed, and there has also been an emergence of a number of refereed academic journals dedicated to the field, including the Latino Studies Journal, The Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, the Latino Review of Books, etc.

As a result of the rapid growth of Latino Studies as a field of academic study during the last thirty years, the demand for academics and professionals specialized in this field has greatly expanded. From University research institutes to marketing specialists to Congressional staff members, there is a growing demand for persons who are knowledgeable of the Latino populations. The Latino Studies Program intends to supply the wealth of information and expertise available in this field to students, faculty and, through research and service, the general public locally in New York City and nationwide.

6)  Describe the potential for collaboration with other institutions.

Since a large number of existing programs or departments in the field of Latino Studies focus on specific groups (Puerto Rican studies, Dominican studies, etc.), the Latino Studies program at Columbia, which is broad-based, would be able to collaborate with the more specialized programs. The program did so this past November 1997, when a research report on Dominican New Yorkers was released as the result of a joint venture between the Columbia Latino Studies Program and the Dominican Studies Institute at City College. It is expected that such collaboration will be made, in both research and teaching, with other Universities in the Northeast.

7) Who is to be served by the Current major?

The students to be served are the all of the undergraduates of Columbia College.

Students do not declare a major at the time they apply for admission to Columbia College. Declaration of a major is made at the end of the sophomore year and recruitment of students for this major from the existing population will be done through advertising in the University paper, the program’s web site, and special meetings with the student body, including student organizations representing minority groups.

The number of majors expected in the first class is between 5 and 10. The number is expected to gradually grow over the succeeding 5 classes to between 30 and 35.

The Latino Studies program director will be the chief faculty member supervising and advising students. Other members of the faculty affiliated with the major will also act as advisors, depending on the focus of the student and the availability of the faculty.

8) How will the Program be evaluated?

All majors will be requested to fill out questionnaires at the end of each academic year assessing the quality of the courses, curriculum, faculty and administration of the major. In addition, the Program Director and program faculty advisors will seek an informal assessment of these areas from students, as they are advised each semester.
Student evaluations will be utilized to gather information about the quality of courses and of instruction. Information about the GPA of students will be utilized to monitor the performance of majors each semester. The achievements and goals of the program will also be monitored through the success of the major in placing students either in jobs or in graduate or professional schools. A follow-up study of alumni will be undertaken to determine the progress of majors after they finish school.
After three years of operation as a major, the program will request an external panel to review the status of the program, its academic quality and its effectiveness. In combination with the information gathered earlier, the panel’s review will be used to revamp areas needing improvement.

9) What do I have to do to Major or Concentrate in Latino Studies ?

Check out the Major and concentration requirements.