Latin American Studies program and center to grow with new federal grant

EUGENE, Ore. — (Oct. 10, 2012) — The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a grant to the University of Oregon Latin American Studies program and the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies.

The $186,000 grant to the UO — through the education department's Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program — is part of a $1.5 million fund that was awarded to 17 institutions across the country.

The grant is for activities to spread over two years and will include the development of new courses such as a study abroad seminar on "Human Rights in Guatemala," a post study abroad seminar and an undergraduate-level course on Brazil, as well as enhancements for existing Latin American Studies and language courses.

The grant also will support Portuguese instruction, student participation in the creation of an online dictionary for Zapotec (an indigenous language of Mexico with 500,000 speakers), a summer institute for middle and high school teachers on "Understanding the Many Faces of Latin America through Art and History," and a number of lectures, film series and symposia that will connect the UO with Oregon communities.

Professors Carlos Aguirre, history, and Lynn Stephen, anthropology, along with several other faculty and staff, wrote the grant proposal. Aguirre and Stephen are the project co-directors.

"The award is a very important recognition of the quality of our faculty as well as the institutional support we receive from the University of Oregon," said Stephen, director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies. Founded in 2009, the center is part of a growing presence of Latin American expertise on campus. It is a knowledge center linking research, teaching and community engagement.

"The presence of Latin American Studies on campus has been growing steadily for the past 15 years. We are an important presence on campus," said Aguirre, director of the Latin American Studies Program, which offers major and minor degrees and has more than doubled its faculty from 18 to 42 members. Study-abroad opportunities have also expanded.

Aguirre and Stephen say the new grant will help to enhance the UO's international agenda, increase diversity on campus and consolidate the UO as a major center for the production and dissemination of knowledge about Latin America.

“This grant will allow the Latin American Studies program and the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies to continue doing what they do so well, providing opportunities for learning, researching and engaging with communities,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation, and dean of the graduate school. “These initiatives support the University of Oregon's mission of community service and strengthen our ability to navigate the changing borders and social relationships in our increasingly multicultural, interconnected world.”

The Office of International Affairs provided seed funding for the Latin American Studies grant development and will provide funding to support grant administration as part of its newly established Global Studies Institute.

In the coming months, Aguirre and Stephen will move the initiatives forward by working with internal partners in the university, including the College of Arts and Sciences; Wired Humanities Projects; Knight Library; the Office of the Vice President for Research, Innovation and Graduate Education; the Office of International Affairs; and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Media Contacts: Chakris Kussalanant, director of marketing and communications, Office of International Affairs, 541-687-9393,; Eli Meyer, assistant director Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, 541-346-5714,; and Alice Evans, research dissemination specialist, Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, 541-346-5077,