The cultural, economic and geopolitical importance of Latin America and Latinos in the U.S. is substantial and growing. Themes such as immigration, narco-trafficking, the ascendance of indigenous movements, the recent resurgence of left-wing governments, the perennial problems of poverty and inequality, and the rise of Brazil as a global economic power, are among the many issues which make the study of Latin America and Latinos in the U.S. both interesting and important. Coupled with issues of political and economic significance is the growing influence of Latin culture as indicated by Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa’s recent receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature as well as the increasing popularity of Latin music, art, cinema and food along with the growing numbers of Spanish and Portuguese speakers across the U.S. and other parts of the globe. 2010 census data indicates that there are now 50.5 million Latinos in the U.S.— one sixth of the U.S. population. These figures represent more than a 46 percent increase in the Latino population since 2000 and reveal that Latinos are far and away the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Thus, undoubtedly, the significance of Latino culture will continue to increase in years to come.
Latin American and Latino Studies is a multidisciplinary concentration designed to expose students to the complexities of these issues. It offers courses which elucidate the diversity of historical, cultural and political experiences of Latin America, the interrelationships between Latin America and the U.S., and the growing influence of Latinos in the U.S. Students have the opportunity to take concentration-related courses in art history, communications, economics, history, international development, political science and Spanish.