Latin American Studies BA
Latin American Studies is an interdisciplinary degree that combines advanced-language experience with study in humanities, social science, and/or business. It is designed to develop a deep and complex understanding of Latin American culture, politics, history and contemporary affairs. It also aims to develop general skills in analytical thinking, methods of interpretation, perceptive reading and competent writing. Coursework is designed to increase mental dexterity and to instill intellectual curiosity and lifelong habits of thought that will permit students to interpret Latin America and the world around them from a variety of perspectives.
Students complete between 36-51 credits, depending on where they begin their language sequence. These credits are distributed as follows:
A) Latin American Studies Courses (6 hours):
- LtAm 211--Introduction to Latin American Studies
- LtAm 495--Senior Seminar in Latin American Studies
B) Basic Language Courses (15 hours):
- Span 101/ 102/ 201/ 202 OR
- Port 101/ 102/ 201/ 202
C) Advanced Language and Culture Courses (6 hours):
- Span 321--3rd-Year Spanish Grammar & Composition
- Span 355--Ibero-American Civilization OR Port 321--3rd-Year Portuguese Grammar & Composition
- Port 355--Brazilian Civilization
D) Social Science Courses (9 hours):
- Geog 255--Middle & South America
- Hist 251--Conquest & Colonization of Latin America or Hist 252--Modern Latin America
- PlSc 358--Politics & Society in Latin America or PlSc 380--International Relations of Latin America
- Soc 335--Social Change & Modernization in Latin America
E) Humanities Courses (6 hours):
- Hum 260--Humanities of Latin America
- Port 439R--Luso-Brazilian Theatre Production
- Port 451--Survey of Brazilian Literature
- Port 339--Introduction to Portuguese & Brazilian Literature
- Span 339--Introduction to Spanish Literature
- Span 365--Mexian-American Literature
- Span 461R--Spanish-Speaking American Literature
F) Elective Courses (6 hours): (see MAP sheet)
G) Internship (3 hours):
- IAS 399R (up to 9 credit hours may be earned)
A majority of LAS Majors test out of the basic language requirement and begin their study at Spanish or Portuguese 321. Hence the major usually consists of 36 hours. All students are required to complete an internship which creates a meaningful experience either in a Latin American country or in an environment, domestically, that draws upon their Latin Americans expertise.
The curricular structure described above (and in greater detail on the attached LAS MAP sheet), allows each student to master a foreign language and culture and then use that knowledge to serve Latin American people in an internship experience. The major harmonizes with the aims of a BYU education in that each student receives an in-depth background for an area of the world where he or she will most likely have spent some period of time giving service. LAS students prepare for lifelong service and are strengthened intellectually by their studies of Latin America.
Students will write a substantive research paper (12-16 pages), of student journal quality, which interprets and analyzes the academic component of the internship experience.Factual Knowledge
The student will understand and interpret foundational knowledge relating to historical, socio-cultural, geographic and economic conditions in Latin America, as well as how Latin America interacted with major world powers.
Our LAS students should understand basic methodology of social science research and writing as well as humantities/language based research. This will include modern library skills, as well as humanities/language based research, and demonstrate that understanding by writing papers in Spanish and/or Portuguese, as well as a major capstone project of 20 plus pages.
LAS students will be able to critically analyze ideas, evidence and arguments relating to a current topic or a significant historical event/process in Latin America, and effect a significant oral presentation, demonstrating recent knowledge from newspapers and journals in the target language.
LAS students will demonstrate both written and verbal fluency in Spanish or Portuguese.
Evidence of Learning
Most formal assessment occurs in the individual courses through exams, papers, research reports, learning journals, etc. In an attempt to standardize expectations, LAS 211 was created to project norms for the major. This introductory course is normally taken early in the student's career. During the last semester of coursework the student takes LAS 495, a capstone course in which she or he demonstrates competencies gained during the major. The faculty member who teaches this class regularly reports to the LAS Executive Committee regarding each student's progess. Since the faculty of Latin American Studies are all housed in more "traditional" departments, no assessment of faculty performance occurs in the Kennedy Center. The program for students, however, is regularly evaluated and reviewed by the six-member Executive Committee of LAS, composed of faculty from the Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences. This evaluation is based on questionnaires or essays that graduating seniors complete during their last semester.
- During her/his studies of Latin America, the student will write three major papers which will serve as the basis for an academic portfolio. The first will be written during the Introduction to Latin American Studies 211 course, and graded by the professor of that class; the second paper will be evalauted by the instructor of Spanish or Portuguese 339; the third paper will reflect the research of the student's internship experience and be graded by the mentoring professor of that activity. Ungraded copies of each of these papers will become part of the student's portfolio.
- Library and research skills will be evaluated by the professor of the captstone course, LAS 495.
- Written and oral proficiency in Spanish or Portuguese will be measured by successful completion of at least three 300 or 400-level classes in that target language.
- In a personal interview with the coordinator of LAS each student will plan out her/his career options and interest with respect to Latin America.
Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement
The student learning portfolio is the basis for aiding students to improve their reading, writing and research. The three major papers included in this porfolio reflect the students' first writing, their writing and researching in a foreign language, and the final research paper, expected to be of quality to publish in a student journal. If students do not demonstrate improvement they will meet with the coordinator to work out a plan to show progress.