Cal State L.A. - Project LAREGLO - Historical Background



Latin American

Studies Program

Faculty doing Latin American Research


Table of Contents


Historical Background
California State University, Los Angeles is located in East Los
Angeles, in the midst of the largest Chicana/o community in the United States.
The surrounding community is ethnically diverse and the university is the
principal institution of higher education attended by this diverse population.
Most students are first generation college students who work to support
themselves. CSULA's Latina/o population has rapidly grown in recent years
and now comprises approximately 46.2 percent of the student body and is
composed of students of Mexican origin, a growing number of Central Americans,
as well as many from South America.


Latin American Studies Program

The Latin American Studies Program at California State University, Los Angeles,
established in 1964, has a long history of bridging the gap between the
community and higher education. The Latin American Studies Program offers
interdisciplinary degrees, with most courses drawn from the social sciences.
Since 1964, 144 students have received bachelors degrees and 71 have received
Masters degrees in Latin American Studies. In addition, a large number of
students major in disciplines such as History and Political Science with
an emphasis in Latin America. Many LAS graduates have gone on to be public
school teachers, work in public service, and others have pursued further
graduate study. Currently, LAS graduates are enrolled in Ph.D. programs
at several universities, including UCLA, University of California-Irvine,
University of California-Riverside, University of California-Santa Barbara,
and the University of Wisconsin. Indeed, LAS students have also gone on
to teach at such places as California State University, Long Beach, California
State University, Northridge; University of California, Irvine; and Wesleyan
University, North Carolina; and Randolph-Macon University.

The LAS program has ties with scholars and programs in Mexico and has
hosted visiting professors from Mexican universities, most recently from
the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa. CSULA faculty have a very strong
publication record and have been among the founders of a number of Latin
Americanist organizations, including Pacific Coast Council on Latin American
Studies (PCCLAS) and the leading theoretical journal Latin American Perspectives.

Over the years several conferences have been organized by the Latin American
Studies Program that have integrated academic interests, with public policy
issues and community participation. Major conferences have been held on
Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Central America, Human Rights, "Testimonio"
Literature, The Latin American "New Song" Movement, and the Pedagogy
of Paulo Freire. The historic Central American conference in 1979 brought
together for the first time the leading intellectuals and political activists
of all of Central America, including key figures of the Sandinista leadership.
All of these events included community members, students, as well as faculty
in the planning process.

CSULA Latin America Studies faculty have always had close ties to the
surrounding community and have sought to connect the study of Latin America
to issues of concern to the local community. The program has partnered with
local community groups and Latin American consulates, several times a year,
to bring guest speakers to campus. CSULA faculty have also pioneered instructional
innovation like teaching the first course in the United States on Blacks
in Latin America and creating courses on Central American history. Students
have been involved in classes in which they produced films, videos and radio
broadcast tapes on Latin American social and political issues.


Faculty doing Latin American Research

There are approximately 30 faculty/staff who devote 100 percent of their
time to Latin American research. Latin Americanist faculty are located in
many departments, including Foreign Languages, History, Political Science,
Anthropology, Geography, Chicano Studies, Philosophy, Economics, Sociology,
Music, and Education. CSULA faculty have a wide range of country and disciplinary
strengths, however because of its location, the greater Mexico region has
historically been the area of greatest specialization.

Cal State L.A. | Natural
and Social Sciences
| Latin American
Studies Program

United States and Latin American Relations

California State University, Los Angeles

5151 State University Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90032