Department Chair: Edna Acosta-Belén
The University at Albany/SUNY holds its research, instructional, and service activities related to Latin America, the Caribbean, and the immigrant/migrant populations from these regions under two separate units: the Center for Latino, Latin American and Caribbean Studies ( CELAC ) and the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Studies ( LACS ).
CELAC coordinates collaborative agreements, research and technical assistance projects, scholarly conferences and seminars, publications, and other special activities dealing with the Latin American and Caribbean regions and the U.S. Latino population.
The LACS Department administers all undergraduate and graduate degrees and courses. Undergraduate majors are offered in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and in Puerto Rican Studies, and MA and Graduate Certificate degrees in Latin American and Caribbean Studies in addition to the program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Spanish with a specialty track in Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Cultural Studies. The Department of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) administers this new specialty, in collaboration with the Hispanic Studies Program of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. Students who already hold an MA degree in LACS (33 credits) or any other appropriate field will only have to complete a minimum of 27 additional credits and satisfy all degree requirements. This Ph.D. specialty is conceived of as qualitatively different from conventional language and literature programs. Its originality lies in the integration of area and ethnic studies within a disciplinary framework that includes the humanities as well as the social sciences. Broadly defined, cultural studies reflects a theoretical emphasis on the critical theories that focus on how issues of diversity, such as nationality, ethnicity, gender, and race shape cultural, historical, socioeconomic, political, and educational processes.
The program also pays attention to the manner in which globalization, (im)migration, and transnationalism are forging new hemispheric visions of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. In light of this reality, our research and teaching agenda is also focused on the U.S. Latino experience and its relationship to the countries of origin. This feature of our program reflects faculty interest and expertise and distinguishes us from other institutions in the field of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
The program is recognized as a viable alternative to the single department/discipline based structures that dominate most university settings. "Alternative" does not mean substitution; it means a valid, complementary, and different model with its own set of persuasive advantages. These advantages include paradigmatic shifts in the context of scholarship, a novel and inclusive curriculum, as well as research in frontier territory not chartered inside structures that are more conventional. LACS' multidisciplinary approaches are integral to its impressive basic and applied research and service outreach activities to institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean and in local, national, and international multicultural communities.
Some of the main areas of expertise of LACS faculty include development studies, women's studies, migration studies, Mesoamerican anthropology, Caribbean literature, education, and Puerto Rican studies. Study abroad and field research opportunities are available with institutions in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Nicaragua. The Department of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) at the University at Albany is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive program of its kind within the SUNY system. It is the only academic department that currently offers an MA graduate degree and a graduate certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, in addition to undergraduate majors in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Puerto Rican Studies. Its twenty-two jointly appointed faculty, includes six core faculty, and its cross listed courses now represent a total of twelve University departments and three colleges or schools.
The Center for Latino, Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CELAC) and the Institute for Mesoamerican Studies (IMS), autonomous research units overlapping LACS in geographical coverage and faculty, also have made significant contributions with their publications, conferences, and attracting grant resources and promoting international collaborations.
Most LACS graduates pursue careers in education, international business, government service, public policy, law, criminal justice, and social work. Degree candidates are also expected to demonstrate advanced language proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese or French. A limited number of fellowships and assistantships are available to applicants on a competitive basis.