Beginning this academic year, students at The University of Toledo can minor in Latin American and Latinx Studies.
The 18-credit minor launched at the start of the fall semester after it was approved by the Faculty Senate and the provost in March, following efforts by a faculty working group in the College of Arts and Letters, who met regularly last year to update and revitalize Latin American and Latinx studies at the University.
“This minor speaks to the critical need to center and understand the experiences of people throughout the Latin American diaspora,” said Dr. Melissa Gregory, associate dean for undergraduate education and curriculum in the College of Arts and Letters and professor of English, who helped support the faculty working group.
The minor was designed with flexibility in mind. Students can explore Latin American and Latinx subjects, picking and choosing electives that appeal to them, or they can create a mini concentration where they focus on a particular field, such as politics, history or language.
The electives encompass a broad range of disciplines, including history, English, sociology and Spanish, among others. These classes cover subjects such as Latino/a/x literature written in English and Spanish, the colonial history of Latin America and the Caribbean, the history and politics of Mexico, the religious practices of Latin America and other relevant topics.
The Latin American literatures and cultures courses are all taught in Spanish (except for 1090), so that students can have a total immersion experience of the Latin American world in the classroom.
The working group also developed a new course for the minor — LALX 2000, Introduction to Latin American and Latinx Studies — which will be offered this spring and is enrolling students — and created a list of electives.
“LALX 2000 is designed to give students an introduction to the topic through a multidisciplinary approach where we will use history, film, literature, the study of culture and current events to capture the Latin American and Latinx experience,” said Dr. Charles Beatty-Medina, professor of history and a member of the faculty working group. “I think it will be a fascinating and eye-opening journey for students.”
Students will have the option of taking a special sociology class — SOC 4980, Special Topics in Sociology: Fieldwork in the Dominican Republic — where they will travel to the north coast of the Dominican Republic for 15 days to learn about local history and culture.
“We are thrilled to offer students the opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of Latin American and Latinx cultures, histories, societies and perspectives,” said Dr. Karie Peralta, associate professor of sociology and anthropology and a member of the faculty working group. “This new minor will create additional space in the UToledo community for collective learning about the concerns and contributions of Latin American and Latinx people, and we hope that this program will foster and support student and faculty passion for this important field.”
Besides Beatty-Medina and Peralta, the faculty working group consisted of Dr. Shahna Arps, assistant professor of anthropology; Dr. Jetsabe Cáceres, associate professor of political science and public administration, and director of the Global Studies Program in the College of Arts and Letters; and Dr. Manuel R. Montes, assistant professor of Spanish, Latin American literatures and cultures.
The group was supported by Aleiah Jones, interim director of the Office of Multicultural Student Success, Michelle Sullivan, assistant director for Student Services, and Gregory.
New faculty member Dr. Ayendy Bonifacio, assistant professor of U.S. ethnic literary studies, joined this year.