After a competitive review process, the Department of Education awarded the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) a two-year grant through the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) program.
The $200,000 grant will run from December 2020 through December 2022 and support interdisciplinary, curricular initiatives related to Central America, including new and enhanced area studies curriculum, indigenous language courses and study abroad opportunities. CLAS Director Marcela Vásquez-León will direct the grant and oversee the curricular and scholarly initiatives.
UArizona stands as a leading institution in Latin American language and area studies. Designated for the first time as a National Resource Center by the Department of Education 20 years ago, CLAS is now on its 4th term as a Title VI NRC, fostering interdisciplinary research and teaching, with an emphasis on language and cultural immersion, and carrying research and outreach efforts in the university and beyond.
The University has more than two dozen faculty with interests in Central America, particularly in the social sciences, humanities, law, and public health. The UISFL grant will support initiatives to create new curricula to study Maya languages (K’iche’ and Kaqchikel, in particular) on campus, in Tucson and abroad, will provide undergraduate scholarships for study abroad in CLAS’ Guatemala program, and expand academic collaboration, including the creation of a Central American Studies Network.
CLAS Associate Professor Elizabeth Oglesby will strengthen and develop academic networks with scholars and activists from Central America and with NGOs and community groups in Tucson and the border region; will promote study abroad and internship opportunities for students; and will strengthen Central America related curriculum in the area of human rights and migration.
Dr. Ryan A. Kashanipour, Scholar in Residence at CLAS, will coordinate the creation of the interdisciplinary certificate for Central American Studies that focuses on environment, health, and human rights. He will also develop and teach a new introductory course on Language, History and Cultures of Central America that will be offered as a General Education class.
The grant also includes collaboration with Dr. Robert Henderson from the Department of Linguistics who will develop a course on Maya Linguistics, and Dr. Javier Osorio from the School of Government and Public Policy who will focus on Crime and Political Order in Central America.
Through this grant, CLAS will provide new opportunities to undergraduate students at the UArizona and will contribute to a greater understanding of Central America on campus and in the larger community of Southern Arizona.