Degree Requirements


  • 1st Year English or equivalent
  • PHIL 110, LING 123, MATH 107, or MATH 112 (or higher)
  • 4th semester second language proficiency

General Education

UNIV 101: Intro to the Gen Ed Experience

1 Unit

Exploring Perspectives (EP) Gen Eds:

Complete 1 of each:

  • Artist
  • Humanist
  • Social Scientist
  • Natural Scientist

Building Connections (BC) Gen Eds

Complete 3 courses

UNIV 301: The Gen Ed Portfolio

1 Unit

Minimum units needed for all Gen Eds: 32

  • 6 units Tier 1 Individuals & Societies
  • 6 units Tier 1 Traditions & Cultures
  • 6 units Tier 1 Natural Sciences
  • 3 units Tier 2 Arts
  • 3 units Tier 2 Individuals & Societies or Tier 2 Humanities
  • 3 units Tier 2 Natural Science
  • 3 units Diversity Emphasis Course (can be fulfilled with General Education Courses)

Latin American Studies Major

Contemporary Latin American Topics Courses

  • Complete 15 units

Choose four courses:

In this course, students will apply a social science perspective to the study of Latin America as a complex region. This course will examine the historical, political, economic, and social factors contributing to racism, inequality, and violence in Latin America, as well as how Latin Americans have fought for social justice and waged social revolutions. This course emphasizes the experiences, struggles, and contributions of marginalized populations such as women, Black and Indigenous people, economically disadvantaged, and members of LGBTQIA+ communities. Using the analytical tools and qualitative methods of social scientists, students in this course will analyze how specific case studies exemplify broader regional trends; identify the historical antecedents of current events; and propose solutions to pressing global problems. Along the way, students will reflect on their own stereotypes about Latin American countries and peoples and come to a greater understanding of the importance of learning about this dynamic region of the world.

Mexico today is a diverse and dynamic country that is often misrepresented in popular stereotypes as a country full of sleepy, rural villages or dangerous, drug-ridden deserts. What are the major challenges facing Mexico today? Why do so many people migrate away from Mexico-and why do even more Mexicans return home? What historical and contemporary forces have shaped contemporary Mexico? We will learn about major topics including immigration, racial and ethnic diversity, democracy and political change, inequality, environmental change, violence, injustice and impunity, and Mexico in the global context (especially Mexico-United States relations). In the process, you will gain a far better understanding than most North Americans have of the peoples, environments, cultures and regions of Mexico, and of the complex political, economic, and social structures that influence the region and its international relations, especially with the United States. This course focuses on current challenges of development, environment, and politics in Mexico. It will examine how Mexico has dealt with such issues as economic development and human rights. We will also explore environmental and indigenous politics, resource struggles, urban challenges, and the impact of the war on drugs. The last part of the class examines Mexican migration experiences, U.S. immigration policy, and the social and environmental context of the U.S.-Mexico border.

This course focuses on the social, cultural, linguistic, and historical roots of contemporary Central American identities. As the introductory course in Central American Studies Certificate offered through the Center for Latin American Studies, this course takes an interdisciplinary look at the evolution and development of Central American peoples and nations, with particular emphasis on the indigenous foundations of the region. We begin by situating Central America in broad Latin American historical contexts with examinations of colonialism, nation-building, and the modern political economies of the region. We then turn to topical examinations of indigenous identity, culture, and languages. Through individual and collective research and analysis, students will examine the following themes of this course: colonization and imperialism; indigenous identity and culture; race and mestizaje; migration and human rights; and indigenous movements of Central America.

Food is of wide-ranging interest because it makes up a significant part of the cultures that bind people together into national communities. Food is central to cross-cultural studies of behavior, thought, and symbolism. This course explores the connections between what people in Latin America eat and who they are through cross-cultural study of Latin Americans' food production, preparation, and consumption. Readings are organized around critical discussions of what people cook and eat in Mexico, Tucson-Mexico Border, Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina. A primary goal of the course is to provide students with theoretical and empirical tools to understand and evaluate the relationship between food, history, culture, and economy in Latin America at local and global levels.

This course takes representations and experiences of citizenship in modern Brazil as the springboard for the study of cross-cultural membership in society. How are understandings and experiences of citizenship bound up with the definition and institutionalization of race/ethnicity, class, and gender? This broad question will be examined in specific areas in Brazil such as public health, urban and rural development, environment, education, law, politics, and pop culture. The course covers theoretical readings and case studies from different geographical areas. Instructional materials are interdisciplinary, drawing mainly on the fields of History, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, and Geography.

The Latin American region has some of the greatest health disparities on the plan Let. Why do they exist, why do they persist, and what might be done to change them? This class will focus on examining the social dimensions that perpetuate inequalities of health and harm in Latin American societies, as well as healing practices that include, but extend far beyond, a biomedical approach. We will also look closely at the influence of “culture” on disease and treatment, which often figures centrally within debates about the production of Latin American health inequalities. How do cultural ideas and practices about race, indigeneity, class, gender, ecology, development, and globalization affect how a disease is understood, who gets access to treatment, who is denied access to care, and who heals and who doesn’t? The course will argue that in Latin America to understand the production of health inequalities, and to transform them, we need to interrogate closely sociocultural dimensions of disease and medicine, at both local and global scales.

How does power shape international relations? In this course, students will apply a social science perspective to the study of U.S.-Latin American relations. The course is organized around the concept of power, and how asymmetric power relations between the United States and Latin American countries contributes to inequality and in justice between states (global) and within societies (social). In this course, students identify and explore social science approaches to the global power structure and use theory to analyze five hemispheric challenges: unequal economic development, cross border displacement, insecurity, climate change, and global health inequalities. In addition, students explore how a social scientist's position in the global power structure shapes their perspective through a comparison of the main U.S. approach(realism) and the main Latin American approach(dependency). Students use the analytical tools and methods of social science to identify how U.S. imperialism shapes the five hemispheric challenges, and to connect imperialism to structural injustice at the international level. Finally, throughout the course, students reflect on their position in the global power structure and how they can contribute solutions to hemispheric problems.

With a focus on Latin America, this course examines the historical, comparative, and current dynamics of two global commodities: illicit drugs and oil. These commodities, which depend on a U.S. consumer base, generate unfathomable wealth and unrelenting violence at local, national, and international levels. We follow them from extraction and production through consumption, examining socioeconomic and environmental impacts, their relationship to state corruption, and possible strategies for responding to the problems they create.

The course will focus on the specific characteristics of the current conflict by learning about President Felipe Calderón's approach to combating organized crime, the involvement of the ATF and DEA in Mexico, and the important Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs), such as the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, The Gulf Cartel and their leaders Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, "El Lazca," Osiel Cardenas, Miguel Felix Gallardo, the Beltran Leyva brothers to name a few. We will also discuss the Peace Movement in Mexico and the work that is being done to change the course of the conflict. As the semester advances we will discuss more broadly the social issues imbedded in this conflict and provide opportunities for students to arrive at complex understandings of the role of drugs and violence in contemporary society.

This class will introduce students to contemporary politics in Latin America from an interdisciplinary perspective.  We will examine the modern history of politics in Latin America, paying close attention to social movements, resistance to hegemony, democratic trends and the influence of U.S. foreign policy.  We will conclude the course by looking at the current political environment and trends in the near future.  Students are expected to attend class, participate in discussion, and complete a final paper and presentation.

This course explores the development, strategies, and political impact of indigenous peoples' movements in the Latin American region. It focuses on structural factors to explain how and why indigenous communities organize politically, and the ways in which indigenous movements have shaped democratization and development from the mid-20th century until the present. The course will include cases from across the Latin American region with particular emphasis on those regions with the highest concentration of indigenous populations in Mesoamerica (Mexico and Guatemala) and the Andes (Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador). Specific topics include the construction and politicization of ethnic identity; colonization and the historical roots of racism and inequality; nationalism and mestizaje; democratization and its impact on indigenous movements; indigenous women¿s movements; indigenous resistance to neoliberalism and globalization; indigenous political parties; patterns of electoral participation; and the multinational state.

How are race and racism perceived and experienced in countries in Latin America particularly such as Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia where a mixed-race ideology and the myth of racial equality have traditionally been at the core of national identity? This class critically analyzes notions of race and anti-racist activism to examine the ideologies and circumstances of the political structure, race-targeted public policies, and black activism in contemporary Latin America.

This course offers a general introduction to contemporary Latin America from the perspective of political economy. It will focus on structural factors to help explain the main political, social and economic trends in the region. The overall goal of the course is to provide the basic, historical tools for understanding the current challenges that this region confronts.

The American immigration and border enforcement systems have undergone radical changes in the last several decades and have become flashpoints of controversy across the political spectrum. Using a human rights frame, this class will take a critical look at the development of these policies and the ways in which they have impacted immigrants and their families. Using the latest scholarship and recent in-depth journalism, we will explore the component policies of these complicated systems, their dramatic consequences for undocumented and documented people alike, and possible avenues for change within a human rights framework.

This course explores conflict dynamics and peace-building processes in Colombia. The course is divided into two parts. Part I will focus on political violence in Colombia during the 20th and 21st century. Students will learn the main concepts and theories from the academic literature on conflict onset, duration, and the dynamics of political violence, and apply that learning to the Colombian case to disentangle the complex conflict processes impacting the country since 1964. Part II will focus on Colombia’s multiple peace processes since 1980, with a particular focus on the most recent peace agreement between the Colombian government and insurgents in 2016. Students will learn main concepts and theories from the peacebuilding and transitional justice literatures and apply theoretical frameworks to the Colombian case to better understand the politics of peace in Colombia and beyond.

This course offers a general introduction to contemporary Latin America from the perspective of political economy. It will focus on structural factors to help explain the main political, social and economic trends in the region. The overall goal of the course is to provide the basic, historical tools for understanding the current challenges that this region confronts.

The course as taught in any one semester depends on student need and interest, and the research/teaching interests of the participating faculty member.

Mexico has one of the world’s most accomplished food heritages. Many people in the U.S. are unaware that in ancient times the country’s native peoples domesticated many important food crops that are of great importance today: corn, tomato, avocado, squash, pinto beans, and cacao (chocolate), to name a few. As in other countries, Mexican food is not an incidental component of life, but an essential part of how Mexico is structured; what people eat represents a confluence of power, culture, technology, and taste. In this course, we take a critical look at Mexican food production, processing, and consumption through a political ecology approach that includes an examination of important historical developments that provide context to more contemporary processes. These include Mexico’s Green Revolution; the impact of globalization and new conceptualizations of food; the North American Free Trade Agreement; and migration in and out of Mexico. This course includes a 10-day optional field trip to Oaxaca, Mexico during the spring break for 1 extra credit. In combination with field activities, the course will also include a section on qualitative methods for the study of food.

This course explores the relationship between film and feminism in Latin America. What can films teach us about gender and its intersection with class, race, sexuality, politics, and place in Latin America? How do Latin American women filmmakers express unique points of view on gender relations in society, thus contributing to the production of feminisms? What makes a film feminist? What are the experiences of women filmmakers in an industry dominated by men? 

To address these central questions, we will critically evaluate films from a feminist and film studies perspective. We will contextualize films in the historical context of Latin American societies and cinema, with a particular emphasis on films directed by women in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, and Peru. We will screen films across various genres to explore the following themes: revolution; dictatorships; Black, indigenous, and decolonial feminisms; motherhood; gendered violence; reproductive rights; and sexuality.

This course examines the causes and experiences of Central American migration, both historically and in recent years. It explores diverse drivers of migration across the region, as well as the experiences of Central American diasporic communities, drawing on multiple kinds of texts, including film, and engaging with experts and community leaders from the region. You will analyze current policy debates related to Central American migration and you will carry out individual research and group projects.

Latin American Studies Electives

  • Complete 15 units of Latin American Studies elective courses
  • You may complete up to 6 units of elective credit through an internship

Language Requirement

  • 5th semester or higher of Spanish or Portuguese language (3 credits) 
  • Complete Portuguese 299 or higher, or Spanish 251 or higher, or LAS 462/462-SA

Equivalent to LAS 462-SA.

This course will acquaint students with key dynamics and problems in contemporary Latin America. It examines the relationships between these trends, the consequences, and looks towards Latin America's future.

Senior Capstone

  • 3 units
  • Only offered during spring semester.

A culminating experience for majors involving a substantive project that demonstrates a synthesis of learning accumulated in the major, including broadly comprehensive knowledge of the discipline and its methodologies. Senior standing required.


Required, minimum of 18 units (or double-major).

    Other Electives

    Other elective courses can be taken if needed to reach 120 total units or 42 upper-division units.