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Latin American Studies Program Expands with New Concentrations

The UNM Latin American Studies program has launched new concentrations for MALAS and PhD students. The concentrations respond to the emerging needs and interests of the students and faculty affiliated with the Latin American Studies program. Students in both programs are now able to emphasize Indigenous Studies, Public Health, and Geography and Environmental Studies. Students in the PhD program are also able to emphasize the Built Environment.

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These changes highlight the Latin American & Iberian Institute's (LAII) ongoing commitment to providing academic opportunities that are at the forefront of Latin American studies. As people around the world become increasingly subject to forces outside of their control, it becomes ever more relevant and important to ground academic studies in lived experiences and to emphasize practical applications. As these new concentrations demonstrate, the LAII is committed to furthering that approach - to training scholars who are not only attuned to the unique needs and desires of peoples throughout the region, but who are trained furthermore to actively engage with and contribute to communities.

From human rights to indigenous place-mapping, students in the Indigenous Studies concentration are exposed to a multitude of perspectives and theoretical positions that will better enable them to support indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. This unique program offers the opportunity to actively engage with indigenous peoples as they seek to preserve and maintain their languages, protect ecological resources, and retain sovereignty in the face of external influences.

Emphasizing social and cultural theories and models, participatory-based community intervention and research, and institutional barriers, the concentration in Public Health provides students with insight into the opportunities and obstacles facing Latin American citizens' path towards improved health and welfare.

Applying an integrative approach, the Geography and Environmental Studies concentration prepares students to engage deeply with physical spaces by focusing on histories of place alongside contemporary cultural, economic, political and physical influences. Paired with training in geospatial technologies such as GIS, students learn how to respond issues such as water scarcity, local food systems, and globalizing environments.

All told, the new concentrations emphasize over fifty courses in the departments/programs of American Studies, Anthropology, Art History, Community & Regional Planning, Geography, Linguistics, and Public Health. For more information, see the LAII Academics webpage.

Image: An edited montage of three images: photograph of woman in Cusco, Peru, reprinted CC BY-NC-SA © from Guillermo Barrios del Valle; photograph of "Maras Salt Pans" in Peru, reprinted CC By-NC ©Shawn Harquall; photograph of old hospital in Sololá, Guatemala, reprinted CC By-NC-SA © by Erik Törner.

--Posted Monday, August 31, 2015.