About the Center for Latin American Studies
In 2006 CLAS was designated a National Resource Center on Latin America by the U.S. Department of Education. As a comprehensive NRC, we receive federal funding to educate undergraduate and graduate students, K-16 educators, the business community, and the general public about Latin America. We also receive Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) funding from the Department of Education to support the study of Portuguese and K’iche’ Mayan.
Our center integrates research, teaching, and outreach and provides faculty importance and theoretical relevance: multidimensional approaches to poverty (health, education, economic development), political participation (democratic values, social movements), and subaltern histories and representations (Americans, indigenous peoples). Our center has special depth in Brazil, Mesoamerica, the Andes, and the Latin American Black Atlantic.
With over 100 faculty spanning eleven departments and nine schools, CLAS is the largest and most active interdisciplinary center on Vanderbilt’s campus. Over 15% of arts and Science Faculty have a Latin American studies focus. We have core LAS faculty in anthropology, history, political science, and Spanish and Portuguese, as well as in economics, English, history of art, and sociology. We collaborate substantively with every school of the university: College of Arts and Science, Blair School of Music, Divinity School, School of Engineering, Law School, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Owen Graduate School of Management, and the Peabody College of education and Human Development.
CLAS offers undergraduate major and minors and a M.A. degree in Latin American Studies as well as joint graduate degrees with the Business School (MBA/MA) and Law School (LLM/MA). Moreover, the Center offers a popular graduate certificate program and administers summer research awards to students across the university carrying out work in Latin America. We are also one of the select graduate programs approved by the Department of Defense for its Foreign Area Officer training. The Center offers several academic year and summer federally funded Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for the study Portuguese and Mayan languages. Through a FIPSE CAPES program, CLAS has regular student exchanges with the Universidade de São Paulo and the Universidade Federal da Bahia; we also have exchanges with other universities throughout the region. Graduates of our LAS program are currently employed in government, business, NGOs, and academic institutions in the United States and in many Latin American countries.
CLAS is home to a number of major research and outreach projects, including:
- the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP)
- Slave Societies Digital Archive
- the Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies
- the InterAmerican Health Alliance
- Voices from Our America
- Conexión Guatemala
The Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt seeks to expand awareness and knowledge of Latin America in K-16 settings. On average, CLAS organizes 150 educational and cultural events per year; the impact of these efforts is amplified through teachers who attend many of our events. In 2018-2019, more than 125,000 people attended CLAS events and more than 100,000 students received CLAS content.
Our outreach strategy builds upon faculty areas of expertise in ways that simultaneously enrich research and teaching. The Center collaborates with area organizations such as Cheekwood, the Frist, OZ Arts Nashville, the Global Education Center, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Nashville Public Library, the Nashville Opera and the Adventure Science Center to expand our outreach in the community, as well as the Library of Congress, ReadWorks, Teaching for Change, and other institutions nationwide.
In addition to educational events and teacher workshops, we also provide resources for classroom use in the form of online curriculum resources, a lending library, culture boxes, and guest speakers upon request.