Why Latin American and Latina/o Studies?
Latin America, stretching from North America through Central America to South America, is one of the major regions of the world and home to 620 million people. Since the mid-19th century, the history of the region—including its politics, economics, and material cultures—has been intertwined with that of the United States. Today, over 60 million people of Latin American origin live in the United States and comprise nearly 20% of the population. In 2017, there were 2,122,000 Latino/as living in the Chicago metropolitan area alone, representing 22.6% of the population (Pew Research Center).
Whether you plan to pursue graduate studies or a chosen career field, Latin American and Latina/o studies will equip you to understand and engage with the global realities of today's ethnically diverse church and society.
Why Should You Pursue Latin American and Latina/o Studies at Wheaton College?
While many schools offer Latin American studies programs, Wheaton's LALS program uniquely blends academic rigor with a distinctly Christ-centered approach. This combination allows you to delve deeply into Latin American history, language, faith, and culture with our committed Christian faculty as your guides. Wheaton's dynamic program also offers a multidisciplinary experience, with collaboration and input from diverse academic disciplines. The LALS program will be an excellent fit for anyone whose disciplinary interests or personal identity intersect with Latin America or the Latino experience. Students will develop knowledge, skills, virtues, and attitudes to flourish in the vibrant and increasingly interconnected Americas and to engage deeply with people from the diverse societies and cultures of the region.
What Will I Learn?
The Latin American and Latina/o Studies (LALS) program prepares students to flourish in the vibrant and increasingly interconnected Americas
The LALS major consists of 36 hours of coursework including an introduction to Latin American and Latina/o Studies, Spanish language courses, electives from multiple disciplines and departments, a senior capstone seminar, and one semester of study abroad in Latin America.
Graduates of the program will:
- Understand and critically analyze historic conditions and major economic, social, religious, and political processes that have shaped—and continue to shape—the lives and cultures of Latin Americans and emigrants from the region
- Comprehend how global factors—including the political, economic, religious and cultural influence of the United States—shape contemporary Latin American realities
- Integrate perspectives from multiple disciplines to understand and appreciate the diversity of Latin America and its cultures
- Develop knowledge, skills, virtues and attitudes necessary to effectively and appropriately interact and collaborate with people from Latin America
- Conduct multidisciplinary research and effectively communicate knowledge about Latin America that reflects robust analytical, writing and speaking skills
- Explore how Christianity has transformed and been shaped by the Latin American context, examine contemporary contributions of Latin American Christianity, and consider how these contribute to shaping their own theological understandings
- Develop long-term commitment to engage with Latin American communities and Latino communities in the United States
The Latin American and Latina/o Studies minor consists of 24 hours of coursework.
Through multidisciplinary courses and study abroad, you will develop knowledge, skills, virtues, and attitudes needed to engage deeply with people from the diverse societies and cultures of Latin America and with emigrant communities from the region.
As an LALS major, you will explore the complexities and vitality of Latin America while honing your Spanish and developing advanced language proficiency. Opportunities to practice your Spanish language skills are abundant on campus, locally in Wheaton, and in the greater Chicago area.
With a course of study that is both rigorous and flexible, your LALS curriculum will be integrated with studies in the humanities and Bible/theology, arts and communications, and the social sciences.
Majors and minors are prepared for graduate study and for work in diverse fields—education, government, business, medicine, mental health, social work, non-profit, missions and church ministry—in an increasingly diverse and competitive job market in the United States and in Latin America.
Opportunities for Latin American and Latina/o Studies Majors
Every LALS major is required to complete a semester of study abroad. And Wheaton makes that easy with two exceptional programs: Human Needs and Global Resources and Wheaton in Mexico.
Wheaton College also partners with approved study abroad organizations to provide you with additional opportunities to fulfill this requirement.
Students can practice Spanish with the many Spanish-speaking undergraduate and graduate students, staff and faculty, many of whom grew up in or spent significant time in Spanish-speaking Latino communities or in Latin America. Mesa de Español and Grupos de Conversación offer opportunities to speak Spanish casually with your fellow students on campus.
According to the US Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, over 2.1 million Latina/os live in the Metropolitan Chicago area, comprising just under 23% of area residents. That means Wheaton students have plenty of opportunities to connect with local Latino communities through internships, volunteering, ministry activities, and more.