Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies (LACLS) has a long and distinguished history in the Five Colleges (the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges). For over three decades the main goal of FCLACLS has been to promote the multi- and inter-disciplinary study of Latin America.
With respect to the individual programs, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass) the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) offers an undergraduate certificate, a graduate certificate, and a minor. The Mount Holyoke College (MHC) and Smith College (SC) Latin American Studies Programs offer a major and minor. At Hampshire College (HC) students may develop an area of specialization in Latin American Studies in conjunction with or in addition to their area of concentration. At Amherst College (AC) students may design a major in Latin American Studies.
The FCLACLS Council administers the Five College Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies Certificate. The requirements include the successful (a grade of B or higher) completion of eight one-semester courses selected from five different areas. The five areas are a broadly-based introductory course on the social and political history of Latin America, a social science course, a humanities course, four advanced elective courses, and an interdisciplinary senior seminar. Language training is crucial. Certificates are awarded only after having demonstrated proficiency through at least the advanced intermediate level in Spanish, Portuguese or an indigenous language of the Americas. Students are encouraged to take advantage of cross-enrollment opportunities at the other colleges.
UMass Undergraduate Certificate
The undergraduate certificate and minor at UMass allow students to develop a concentration in LACLS as a complement to their disciplinary major. The certificate program offers two options, one emphasizing competence (at the advanced intermediate level) in both Spanish and Portuguese; the other, one language and a greater number (six rather than four) of area studies courses. The area studies courses must be from at least three different disciplines. Both tracks require an advanced interdisciplinary seminar. The minor requires six area studies courses. Students may major in LAS through the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration program.
Mount Holyoke College Major and Minor Programs
The LAS major at MHC requires a minimum of 10 courses of which at least half must be at the advanced level; the minor requires a minimum of five. Among the required courses is an introductory course in either Latin American cultures or economies, one advanced literature course, and a course focusing on less studied Latin American social groups. The program requires a command of Spanish or Portuguese at the advanced intermediate level and recommends at least an elementary knowledge of the other language. At Smith, the LAS major is anchored by a core set of four required courses in literature and history that provide the foundation for in-depth interdisciplinary study. Students must complete an additional six courses at the intermediate or advanced level, with two of these in the social sciences and at least one in the arts. A proficiency in Spanish at the advanced intermediate level is required and reading knowledge of Portuguese is recommended. The LAS Minor requires six courses. At Amherst College students develop their own major in LAS by writing a senior honor’s thesis in consultation with three advisors. At Hampshire, which does not have majors and minors, students develop a concentration in Latin America by writing their required senior honor’s thesis on a relevant topic and through an appropriate selection of inter-disciplinary courses.
The Graduate Program at UMass
The graduate certificate at UMass is intended to structure graduate study with a LAS focus, foster interdisciplinary scholarship and promote foreign language competence. To be eligible, students must be enrolled in a regular disciplinary or professional master’s or Ph.D. program. Candidates must complete a minimum of four graduate area study courses in three disciplines, demonstrate language proficiency at the advanced intermediate level, complete a thesis or dissertation on a Latin American theme and present their research results in the CLACLS Research Workshop.
Five College Libraries
The total size of the Five College Latin American collection is in excess of 225,000 volumes, placing it among the 20 largest LAS collections nation-wide, a true gem for undergraduates. The Pauline P. Collins Collection at UMass numbers 200,000+ volumes, over half of these in Spanish and Portuguese. The four colleges have not enumerated their Latin American acquisitions, but an analysis of their Latin American holdings (by LC call numbers) in Latin American history and literature yields a total of 25,812 volumes.
Link to Four College and UMass Library Catalogs
The Lorna M. Peterson Prize supports scholarly and creative work by undergraduate students taking part in Five College programs. The $500 prize is awarded annually based on nominations from Five College programs.