Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, World Health Organization bring global project to improve health care through social science to Vanderbilt

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, World Health Organization bring global project to improve health care through social science to Vanderbilt

by  Feb. 7, 2020, 1:33 PM
Ted Fischer leaning on railing
Ted Fischer (Vanderbilt University)

A $600,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  will fund a three-year project with the World Health Organization to develop a new model for health care that incorporates the consideration of cultural attitudes and practices that affect health in the United States. This project extends a WHO effort already underway in Europe, and it will be led by Ted Fischer, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Anthropology and director of the Center of Latin American Studies.

Fischer is an expert in understandings of well-being across cultures and has consulted with WHO-Europe’s project for the past four years.

“In the health field, we spend most of our time talking about medical interventions, of course, but we don’t give much thought to cultural ones,” said Fischer. “But we all have cultural beliefs and practices that affect our health, and in some cases, these can be a matter of life or death.”

“Our cultural beliefs shape the way we think about health,” said Karabi Acharya, director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We draw from the experiences of countries around the world that bring the relationship between culture and health into sharper focus. Leveraging that global learning, this project will explore culture’s impact on our overall health and well-being in the U.S.”

A significant challenge to the implementation of effective public health strategies is overcoming what can seem like a puzzling lack of engagement or even resistance to interventions by the affected communities, Fischer said. For example, although Romania has the highest rate of cervical cancer in Europe, efforts to increase screening failed miserably. When WHO social scientists came to investigate, they learned that the women’s health practices imposed during the Ceaușescu regime from the ‘60s to the ‘80s had created a widespread mistrust between women and the medical community that had been passed down from mothers to daughters to the present day. With that new insight, public health officials understood that their first step had to be to rebuild trust with Romanian women so they would feel more comfortable participating in screenings.

“We all have cultural beliefs and practices that affect our health, and in some cases, these can be a matter of life or death.”

“What we plan to do here is look for success stories like this from overseas, where cultural considerations have improved health outcomes, and identify ways to apply what we’ve learned from them to problems facing the United States,” Fischer said. “For example, obesity is a huge concern here. But food isn’t just fuel to people—it’s about love and culture, too. We have to understand what food means to American communities before we can change how people relate to it.”

Drawing on on Vanderbilt’s unique strengths in the study of culture and health, Fischer will convene an advisory panel of Vanderbilt social scientists with expertise in health topics. Jonathan Metzl, Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, will lead the advisory panel.

Fischer’s team will also consult with an international expert panel of academics, policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders to identify and translate relevant WHO successes to the U.S. context. They will commission new research on key topics as well as developing policy briefs and sharing their findings with health care practitioners.

“The medical field has been moving toward a model of considering the whole person, not just the disease, for a while now, and this project presents a great opportunity to rethink how we do medicine in ways we might not have considered before,” Fischer said. “And that’s really exciting.”

CLAS Distinguished Lecture

Myriam Moscona, award-winning Mexican poet, to give CLAS Distinguished Lecture Feb. 17

Mexican poet, journalist and visual artist Myriam Moscona will open the Center for Latin American Studies’ Distinguished Lectureship Series on Monday, Feb. 17, with a public lecture titled “Judeo-Spanish: A Torch Lit 500 Years Ago that is Extinguishing in my Hands.” The talk will begin at noon in Buttrick Hall, Room 162.

Also on Feb. 17 from 2:30 to 4 p.m., Moscona will conduct a poetry writing workshop in Spanish. The workshop, to be held in Furman Hall, Room 319, is open to all faculty and students.

On Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 4 p.m., Moscona will participate in the graduate seminar “Modern Hispanic Poetry and Poetics.” She, along with graduate students and faculty from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, will critically read her poetry book Ansina. Moscona also will converse with participants in Spanish on being a poet, journalist and artist in Mexico. The seminar will be held in Furman Hall, Room 217.

Contact: Christina Karageorgou-Bastea

Play commissioned by Vanderbilt and Nashville Children’s Theatre

Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies and the Nashville Children’s Theatre co-commissioned a children’s play based on Julia Alvarez’s award winning book Return to Sender. The Nashville Children’s Theatre hosted the play’s world premiere in October.

Through the story of a young farm boy in Vermont, the play broaches timely topics such as patriotism, family separation, deportation and undocumented labor, as well as an exploration of Mexican culture. For Ted Fischer, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Latin American Studies, the play “beautifully captures the moral complexities of immigration and the nature of cultural and human exchanges in fraught circumstances. A powerful work, it speaks to young and old.”

Photo by Michael Scott Evans Photography

During its run, from Oct 10-27, Return to Sender was seen by over 3,000 students as well as 198 teachers and 900 community members. “I know my students read and watch the news about what is going on with undocumented families, but this play really put it into perspective,” said Anne Moctezuma-Baker, a Spanish teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School. “After the play, my students and I discussed immigration and many of them shared their own immigrant stories. It was great to see my students feel so comfortable talking about difficult topics,” she said.

To capitalize on the play’s ability to ignite discussion, CLAS and the Nashville Children’s Theatre led an educator workshop alongside the premiere. Teachers at the workshop learned skills to help them address these kinds of issues with their students. For Rose Shelor, a Spanish teacher at Mill Creek Middle School, the workshop was “a moving experience.”  A related Educator Guide has been made available online to teachers across the country.

In addition, CLAS and the Nashville Children’s Theater hosted a post-show panel with CLAS Executive Director Avery Dickins de Giron, former Metro Council member Fabian Bedne and Conexion Americas Executive Director Juliana Ospina Cano.

Shelor has enjoyed seeing how the momentum produced by Return to Sender has continued in the classroom. “It has been a powerful conversation to continue in how we can engage across cultures and how we can engage emotionally and viscerally when we compare our own culture to another one and choose to enter into cross-cultural life together,” she said.

Photo by Michael Scott Evans Photography

CLAS shares collegiate knowledge with K-12 educators nationwide

Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) has launched an interdisciplinary summer institute that is helping K-12 teachers enhance their skills in teaching students about environmental issues such as climate change. The training, which is tailored for teachers in the STEM fields, seeks to help teachers and students make the connection between environmental concerns in Latin America and their impact on the larger world.

CLAS partnered with sister centers at Tulane University and the University of Georgia to develop the four-year series of trainings, the first of which was held June 24-27 at Vanderbilt and focused on the impacts of deforestation, water access, environmental politics and sustainability in Latin America.

“Climate change is one of the most important issues facing our global society today. Younger generations are very interested in it and want to arm themselves with this information,” said Avery Dickins de Girón, executive director and senior lecturer for CLAS. However, it is also important that students understand these issues within the Latin American context.

“We are intimately connected to Latin America in so many ways, from trade and migration to the environment and our common histories,” said Ted Fischer, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Anthropology and director of CLAS. “In this context, it is more important than ever that our students learn about the larger world to which our shared futures are linked.”

In order to make this training experience widely available, CLAS offered a highly subsidized registration fee as well as travel scholarships. As a result, this year’s institute welcomed a diverse group of teachers from 13 different states, representing 12 disciplines.

Throughout the four-day event, teachers attended lectures led by specialists from Vanderbilt, University of Georgia, Texas State University and the University of Oregon, engaged in hands-on activities and discussed curriculum development strategies that will enable them to take what they learned back to their classrooms.

Jennifer Devine, an assistant professor of geography at Texas State University, taught about how drug trafficking contributes to deforestation. In addition, she pushed participants to think critically about factors driving migrant caravans from Central America. For example, many of the immigrants are leaving due to droughts caused by climate change.

CLAS Summer Institute garden tour (Susan Urmy).

Lectures such as these offer the added benefit of helping teachers better understand their student population.

Regarding  Devine’s class, Outreach Coordinator Colleen McCoy noted, “Many of our participants teach students from Central America and are very interested in understanding more about the history, culture, and current issues of their countries. Metro Nashville Public Schools, for example, has recently experienced a significant rise in students coming from Guatemala.”

Institute attendee, Kelli Bivins, teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages at Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, Georgia, where the majority of her students are newly arrived from farms in Mexico and Central America. Bivins felt the information gained from these workshops better positioned her to “serve and advocate” for her students.

Beyond lectures, teachers got to tour Vanderbilt’s Latin American Garden where they learned about how plants affected the history and culture of Latin people. The Night Blooming Cestrum, for example, reduces inflammation and is effective as a pain reliever.  A tea made from the bark is also used as a sleep aid. “Time spent at the garden is always fun for teachers, passing leaves around to smell and chew,” said McCoy. “There are so many different ways to incorporate plants into the classroom.”

As a National Resource Center, the mission of CLAS is to help U.S. teachers incorporate Latin America into the classroom. So, the teachers were not only educated and inspired, but they left with concrete lesson plans and methods for teaching these principles themselves. Participants mapped the drivers of Central American migration and discussed strategies for using research from the Latin American Public Opinion Project to create group projects for their students.

CLAS Summer Institute garden tour (Susan Urmy).

“In our institute we try to hit the standards that the teachers have to teach, but provide the teachers with a unique way to reach those standards,” said Dickins de Girón. Teachers are excited to have new interdisciplinary ways to teach topics they have been covering for years.

“Outreach programs like this do the important work of taking the knowledge generated at Vanderbilt and make it accessible to the general public, and K-12 teachers in particular,” said Fischer.

For Bivins, “the best part [of the institute] is that the learning will not stop. One of the leaders is creating a virtual, professional development course we can attend throughout this coming year. Plus we have three more years of the institute!”

International strategy takes step forward with launch of Global VU

The Office of the Provost announced today the launch of Global VU, a new university website designed to showcase Vanderbilt’s positive global impact and elevate the university’s international profile.

The website provides a central hub for much of the work being done across campus to advance international research, scholarship and engagement, part of a larger action plan inspired by the International Strategy Working Group report. The site highlights Vanderbilt’s international footprint, including faculty research and student travel, and connects the campus community to resources that facilitate global work. The site is also designed to showcase the university’s international strategy to prospective students, staff and faculty, international peer institutions, and potential partners around the world.“Vanderbilt faculty are engaged in important work around the world and are advancing discoveries that will have a global impact. Our students are equally immersed in international endeavors from study abroad, to international research and service, to area studies,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente. “This new portal helps demonstrate the depth and breadth of the university’s international reach and serves as evidence of our commitment to making connections around the world to advance our mission in service to humanity.”

The new web platform follows the launch of other key recommendations from the Provost’s action plan, including the Global Research and Engagement Micro-Grant Fund and the Chancellor’s Public Voices Fellowship. Additional components of the action plan – including the creation of a global/visiting fellows program – are currently in development.

Throughout the site, stories, profiles and images spotlight examples of Vanderbilt’s international engagement, and the site’s “By the Numbers” sections highlight a cross-section of data related to global scholarship.

Global VU also provides a number of resources for international students and scholars, as well as members of the Vanderbilt community working or traveling internationally. The site includes:

  • internationally-focused discovery and learning opportunities available to Vanderbilt students, including information on area studies, academic programs, foreign language studies, study abroad and Immersion Vanderbilt.
  • resources for international students and scholars, including spotlights of international students and links to campus services for students from outside of the United States.
  • connections for Vanderbilt’s international alumni, with links pointing to international alumni chapters as well as the Vanderbilt Travel Program.
  • global safety and security processes, protocols and resources that support students, faculty and staff traveling abroad.

Feedback on the new website is encouraged and may be submitted via this online form.

MacArthur Fellow Jason De León to discuss ‘Human Smuggling Across Mexico’ Feb. 8


Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies and the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries will host a public lunchtime lecture featuring Jason De León, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and a MacArthur Fellowship recipient, on Friday, Feb. 8, at the Central Library Community Room.

The lecture, “Soldiers and Kings: Violence, Masculinity and Photoethnographic Practice in the Context of Human Smuggling Across Mexico,” will begin at 12:10 p.m. with De León’s presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session. Admission to the lecture is free, and lunch will be provided on a first- come, first-served basis.

Since 2015, De León has been involved in an analog photoethnographic project focused on documenting the daily lives of Honduran smugglers who profit from transporting undocumented migrants across Mexico.

In his talk, he will discuss the evolving relationship between transnational gangs and the human smuggling industry, as well as outline the complicated role that photography plays as a field method and data source in this violent, hyper-masculine and ethically challenging ethnographic context.

De León is author of the award-winning book, The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2017. He is the director of the Undocumented Migration Project, a long-term anthropological study of undocumented migration between Mexico and the United States that uses ethnography, archaeology and forensic science to better understand this social process.

For more information, contact the Center for Latin American Studies at

Visiting artist-in-residence Guillermo Galindo inspired by downtown Nashville for upcoming performance

The complex history of Nashville’s Public Square Park—including stories of Native and African Americans—has inspired a performance by Guillermo Galindo, visiting artist-in-residence at Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies and the Department of Art on Oct. 25.

“Sonic Re-Activation: Unearthing Public Square’s Forgotten Pasts” will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Public Square Park.

Galindo’s interest in the history of the Americas drew him to the Public Square and its many roles in the founding of Nashville—as the former site of a slave market, its proximity to the toll bridge along the Trail of Tears, and as a site of political activism during the city’s civil rights history. Galindo’s performance at the Public Square, newly commissioned by Vanderbilt, culminates a three-week collaboration with students and faculty.

Galindo also will offer a solo performance, “Sonic Borders III,” Oct. 26 in the Steve and Judy Turner Recital Hall at the Blair School of Music. This process-oriented sound performance, which begins at 6 p.m., is a sonic ritual featuring some instruments built with materials found around the Mexican-U.S. border fence. “Sonic Borders III” has been performed in museums and concerts halls across the United States and Europe.

Galindo’s artistic practice emerges from the crossroads between sound, sight and performance and includes everything from orchestral compositions, instrumental works and opera to sculpture, visual arts, computer interaction, filmmaking, electro-acoustic music, instrument building, three-dimensional installation and live improvisation.
Galindo’s works have been shown at major museums and art biennials in America, Europe, Asia and around the world including “documenta14” (2017), “Pacific Standard Time” (2017) and “CTM Festival” (2017). The New York Times, National Public Radio, CBC and Reforma are among the print and broadcast media who have reported on his artistry.

His residency at Vanderbilt is a collaboration between the Center for Latin American Studies, the Department of Art, Blair School of Music and the Program in Comparative Media Analysis and Practice.

In honor of Galindo’s presence on campus, Vanderbilt will also hold a one-day symposium, “Border Elegies: Refugees, Migrants and Contemporary Art and Literature,” on Oct. 26. Presenters will explore different artistic responses to the issue of migration and discuss the human rights implications of today’s flows of refugees. Click here for more information.

Both performances and the symposium are free and open to the public.

Profesora de Northwestern U. explora geografías de la identidad colombiana en Vanderbilt

Con el objetivo de ampliar su trabajo sobre la primera bonaza del narcotráfico en Colombia durante los años 1970, la investigadora Lina Britto, visitó recientemente la Universidad de Vanderbilt, donde consultó por espacio de una semana los archivos de la Colección Etnográfica Manuel Zapata Olivella. Britto, quien es profesora asistente de Historia en la Universidad de Northwestern (Ill), vino en busca de testimonios orales en torno al incipiente tráfico illegal de marihuana que precedió la conformación de los grandes carteles de la droga en los años 1980s, para incluirlos en un libro de su autoría que está en proceso de publicación.

Durante su indagación, Britto consultó las tres principales subsecciones de la Colección Zapata Olivella: El Grupo Etnográfico (centrado en registro de las prácticas y costumbres colectivas en la Colombia rural), “La Voz de los Abuelos” (que recupera la historia popular colombiana a través de testimonios de adultos mayores) y el segmento “Wayu y Arijuna, 500 años de confrontación,” que explora las identidades étnicas y la diversidad cultural en la Guajira colombiana. En su conjunto, la colección – creada por el medico y etnógrafo Manuel Zapata Olivella (1920-2004) – constituye un registro único que reconstruye mediante grabaciones de audio, parte de la historia de Colombia y permite estudiar sus identidades, etnicidades, y regionalidades, a través del lenguaje oral y testimonios populares.

En un sentido más amplio, Britto se propuso familiarizarse con la colección Zapata Olivella con la mira puesta en proximas visitas a Vanderbilt. “Quería explorar su geografia, descubrir su paisaje, subir sus montañas y navegar sus rios”, afirma la historiadora, al resaltar el valor de los archivos sonoros (algunos de ellos aún en proceso de transcripción y catalogación) que rescatan procesos y dinámicas sociales condenadas al olvido por falta de registro escrito. La colección Zapata Olivella, agrega la investigadora, captura la etapa crucial de una Colombia en proceso de transición hacia la modernidad, cuando el estado aún no se había consolidado y la mayoría de la población era iletrada. “Muchos de esos saberes se iban a perder si no se consignaban y el gran mérito de Zapata Olivella, al frente del Grupo Etnográfico, fue recuperar gran parte de conocimiento sin establecer jerarquías de dominación,” sostiene Britto. En vez de utilizar categorías de letrados o analfabetos, Zapata (quien prefería usar la palabra anágrafo para significar el no uso de escritura), empoderó a la gente común como narradores y poseedores de un saber único que se transmite a través de formas alternativas de lenguaje.

-Alejandro Botia Botia

Celebrating 25 Years of the Américas Award

This year, the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs celebrated 25 years of the Américas Award in Washington, D.C. during Hispanic Heritage month. On September 28, 2018, CLASP presented the 2018 Américas Award to Ibi Zoboi for her work, American Street, and to Duncan Tonatiuh for his work Danza!: Amalia Hernández and Mexico’s Folkloric Ballet. About 60 educators attended the ceremony, while more than 1,700 viewers to date have viewed the ceremony via the Library of Congress’ live-stream on Facebook and YouTube.

CLASP founded the Américas Award in 1993 to encourage and commend authors, illustrators and publishers who produce quality children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States, and to provide teachers with recommendations for classroom use. CLASP offers up to two annual book awards, together with a commended list of titles.

Zoboi’s book, American Street is a complex and multi-layered story anchored around relationships and questions of loyalty. Zoboi shared her experiences writing this book and provided context for teaching this book in a high school classroom.

The second 2018 award winner by Duncan Tonatiuh, Danza! is a magnificent celebration of Amalia Hernández, the dancer and choreographer who founded the famed Mexican dance company, el Ballet Folklórico de México. Tonatiuh shared with educators his unique illustrative style and engaged participants in an exploration of Amalia Hernández and her impact in the world of dance. This picture book is the perfect book for every library.

In honor of the 25 year anniversary of the book award, this year’s Américas Award K-12 educator workshop gave 25 educators an opportunity to learn more about the 2018 book winners, and provided guidance and resources for incorporating these award winning books into their classrooms. Participants brought home signed copies of both 2018 award-winning titles. The workshop was hosted by Howard University Center for African Studies, in partnership with Teaching for Change.

Pre and post surveys were conducted and report a high level of satisfaction with the workshop. All participants indicated that they were “likely” or “very likely” to use the ideas and materials from the workshop in their classrooms, and all participants “felt comfortable teaching about diversity” after the workshop. Participants represented a variety of education professions, including K-12 teachers, librarians, special education teachers, English as a Second Language teachers, and higher education professors. Several teachers attended the annual workshop for the first time (38%).

“This is SO needed, and was a great use of my Friday evening,” expressed one participant, while others reported additional feedback in the post survey, including “Excellent, as usual!” and “So, so good, I love this program! I recommend it to others every year!”

In line with this year’s workshop theme focused on diversity and the role of community, James Huck, the Assistant Director for Latin American Studies Graduate Programs at Tulane University, Denise Woltering-Vargas, the Senior Program Manager of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies Latin American Resource Center, and Colleen McCoy, the Outreach Coordinator at Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies kicked off the event in DC beginning on Wednesday, September 26, with an International Baccalaureate Educator Workshop organized by Julie Kline, Associate Director of University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies, for 35 high school teachers from Fairfax County, Virginia.

The 2018 Américas Award ceremony also honored Georgette Dorn, who retired this year from her position as Chief of the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress. With a historian’s dedication to shedding light on the past and acquiring and preserving current cultural and intellectual materials for future generations, she has led efforts to grow the Library’s Luso-Hispanic collections and make them accessible to all. We look forward to working soon with the recently appointed Chief of the Hispanic Division, Suzanne Schadl, an alum of the University of New Mexico.

The awards are administered by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) and coordinated by both Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies. Generous support is also provided by Florida International University, Stanford University, The Ohio State University, UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Florida, University of New Mexico, University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Photos of the event may be accessed through the flickr website.

Follow the Américas Award on Facebook or join the Américas listserv by sending an email to

The Call for Submissions for the 2019 Américas Award is circulating and the review committee members are already busy reading submissions for this year’s competition. Decisions will be made by April and the ceremony will be held during Hispanic Heritage Month Fall 2019 in Washington, D.C.

CLAS receives designation as National Resource Center; $1.6M grant

Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies will expand its trans-institutional collaborations and public engagement in Tennessee and across the country—thanks to a $1.64 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The four-year grant renews the center’s prestigious designation as a comprehensive National Resource Center for Latin America. The National Resource Center designation is the highest recognition an academic center can receive.

“The Center for Latin American Studies is one of the leading centers of its kind in the nation,” said John Geer, dean of Arts and Science. “I’m pleased by this renewed federal investment in our ‘One Vanderbilt in Latin America’ model of trans-institutional collaboration.”

The Center’s “One Vanderbilt in Latin America” model integrates teaching, research and public engagement, with a focus on particular places and themes. This federal funding will allow CLAS to expand its collaborations across colleges and schools, fund native language instruction and support summer research for students. It will also support secondary outreach programs and collaborations with historically black colleges and universities in the region. Working with Peabody faculty, CLAS will help prepare K-12 teachers to teach students from diverse backgrounds; in conjunction with the Library, it will digitize the Afro-Colombian collections, making those materials available online; and collaborating with the Nashville Children’s Theater, it will commission and produce a new play.

The new grant will strengthen the One Vanderbilt in Latin America model in a variety of ways, according to Edward F. Fischer, director of the Center for Latin American Studies and Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Anthropology. “We will be able to better integrate research and teaching and to increase language offerings by employing virtual classroom technologies,” he said. “In addition, the grant funds a Visiting Resource Professor program that integrates four-week visits by prominent scholars and political leaders into on-campus seminars.”

Fischer praised the accomplishments of faculty and students that have made the center’s leadership in Latin American studies possible. “We are blessed with an especially accomplished and engaged group of faculty and students, and Vanderbilt is the perfect size and environment to foster interdisciplinary collaboration,” he said. The center is home to the Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies, the InterAmerican Health Alliance and other research and teaching initiatives.

In addition to the designation as a National Resource Center, the award includes Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships that will support the study of K’iche’ Mayan, Brazilian Portuguese, Haitian Creole and Quechua at Vanderbilt and abroad. CLAS collaborates with Tulane University to offer the Mayan Language Institute each summer in Guatemala, and the Portuguese Language and Brazilian Culture program.

“Our long-standing collaborations with minority-serving institutions, and particularly those with Tuskegee University, are one of the key focuses of this grant,” said CLAS executive director Avery Dickins de Girón. “The funding will expand Portuguese and Spanish language instruction for students at Tuskegee and Meharry Medical College, and introduce new study-abroad opportunities for students at those institutions to study alongside Vanderbilt students, increasing diversity and inclusion.”

Founded in 1947 as the nation’s first Institute of Brazilian Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies has a long history of engagement with the region. Vanderbilt has a remarkable concentration of Latin Americanists, with particular strengths in Brazil, Central America, the Black Atlantic and the Andes. Since 2006, CLAS has been designated as a National Resource Center.

Over the last decade, the center has increased its engagement with faculty and students; currently, 16 percent of the College of Arts and Science faculty have an affiliation, as well as 42 faculty in the professional schools. “We are the only program at Vanderbilt to have substantive joint programs with every school and college on campus,” Fischer said. The center’s public outreach program has also grown over the last decade, reaching more than 190,000 individuals last year.