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Latin American and Latino Studies

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Department Overview

Swarthmore's Latin American and Latino Studies Program introduces students to the shared history and the rich diversity of Latin American societies, cultures and nation-states, as well as with the transnational dynamics that shape Latino, Latina and Latinx experiences in the United States. Students in the program draw on a variety of disciplines for a fuller understanding of how to conceptualize "Latin America" and "latinidad" in all their complexity.  Spoken language, literature and visual culture; pre-colonial, colonial, and modern history; indigenous, immigrant, and diasporic experiences; political and economic systems and social movements; religion, spirituality and other forms of devotion; and socioeconomic conditions and cultural identities all figure into this far-ranging and broadly inclusive course of study.  Courses in anthropology, educational studies, history, modern languages and literatures, religion, and political science contribute to this exciting interdisciplinary program.

Students may pursue a minor or a special major in Latin American and Latino Studies.  Studying beyond the traditional classroom walls provides students with invaluable opportunities for enriching intellectual experiences and personal growth.  Most students pursuing a minor or a special major spend at least one semester abroad in Latin America. For students who are unable to study abroad for whatever reason, faculty-guided off-campus involvement in a local immigrant or Latinx community offers another way to pursue comparable opportunities. ​

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Isabella Smull '16

Congratulations to Isabella Smull ’16, Latin American and Latino studies honors minor, who was selected as a Boren Scholar this year which supports a federal initiative to deepen the pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. 

Sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), the Boren award provides funding and encouragement to develop language skills and experiences in countries critical to the stability of the U.S., and to help the federal sector address and respond to global issues.

“I was ecstatic and very thankful to find out that I’ve been given the opportunity to take the next step — to move beyond my studies and toward taking action,” says Smull, an Honors political science major from Kensington, California.

Smull will spend the next academic year at The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, becoming fluent in Portuguese while studying international and regional security issues. She will also research emerging security and development issues at Igarapé Institute.

Smull also received the 2016 Janice Bond Senior Award  from the Pan American Association of Philadelphia for her outstanding excellence in Latin American Studies.