For over sixty years the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University has distinguished itself in teaching, research, and outreach in Latin American Studies. Founded in 1947 as the Institute for Brazilian Studies, the Center's expertise now extends to Mesoamerica, Spanish South America, and the Caribbean. In 2006 CLAS was designated a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education; our undergraduate program ranks eighth in the nation by the Gourman Report.
While maintaining one of the strongest concentrations of Brazilianists of any university in the United States, the Center's renowned faculty also has particular strengths in Mesoamerican anthropology and archaeology, the study of democracy building and economic development, Latin American literature and languages, and African populations in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Center fosters a lively research community on campus by sponsoring colloquia, conferences, films, and a speaker series featuring distinguished scholars and government and business leaders.
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 graduate 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)
-the secretariat of the Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA)
-Ecclesiastical Sources in Slave Societies research project (ESSS)
-the Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies
-the InterAmerican Health Alliance
-Voices from Our America
CLAS reaches thousands in Nashville, Tennessee, and the surrounding region through our various outreach programs to the educational, business, medical, and media communities. We have a vibrant K-12 teacher workshop series marked by high attendance and positive feedback; recent topics have included Andean archaeo-astronomy, the Panama Canal, and the art of Guayasamín. We offer Spanish instruction to our Medical School and at Fisk University. We regularly partner with local arts groups and community organizations to sponsor events. We have pioneered an effort to bring together NGOs, faith-based organizations, and academics working in Guatemala to coordinate efforts. We serve as a national resource through a variety of other programs as well, including cultural competency seminars, a film and lecture series, a classroom speakers' bureau, and a resource lending library.