Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Degree Type
Department Romance Languages
Academic Division The College
The interdisciplinary program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) allows students to explore the region’s civilizations, culture and society, with particular attention to the ways the region has been shaped by the meeting of Amerindian, African and European peoples

About the Program

The LACS curriculum includes more than 70 courses from disciplines both in the College and Williams School, including anthropology, art, business, economics, English, French, history, politics, Portuguese, sociology and Spanish. A minor in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program provides a logical complement to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in any of the majors from these and other departments.

Students in the program are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to experience target cultures through formal study abroad arrangements, summer internships and experiential courses.

Why Study LACS at W&L?

Students who complete the minor gain the background necessary for careers in journalism, law, teaching, bilingual education, social work, business, government and international organizations, as well as graduate work in Latin American studies and related disciplines. Recent graduates have pursued careers in medicine, law, specialized nonprofit organizations, business, science research and urban planning, among others.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

LACS offers a variety of engaged learning opportunities intended to allow students to interact with the issues and people that define the Americas. The experiences include internships and practical language training in Costa Rica, education in Argentina and advocacy at W&L’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.

LACS Fieldwork (LACS 453 and 454) allows students to work for six to eight weeks in the summer as volunteers at public schools, a retirement home, a wildlife refuge, a restaurant, a law office, or a municipal bank in Nicoya, Costa Rica. For the practicum experience (451 and 452) students work as teachers’ assistants at Holy Trinity College in Mar de Plata, Argentina. For LACS minors who have already acquired language fluency, W&L’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic affords students the opportunity to serve as translators and assist clients with immigration matters.

More Student Opportunities

Back in Lexington, language tables such as Table française, Mesa Española and Bate-Papo Brasileiro meet twice a week and are a great way for students to practice languages with W&L’s native teaching assistants and faculty.

The English for Speakers of Other Languages Program (ESOL) facilitates communication within the increasingly diverse population of Rockbridge County.

Other opportunities include Casa Hispánica, where students live and speak Spanish, and which serves as a weekly meeting place for cultural activities; French and Portuguese-language student-run clubs; Romance Languages Poetry Night; and Pluma, a Spanish-language literary journal.

After W&L

In the 10-year history of the program, LACS has graduated more than 50 alumni who have distinguished themselves in diverse ways. Our alumni consistently tell us how important the LACS minor was for them in the formation of their occupational readiness and vocational passion. A few of our alumni and their career paths include:

  • Johan Garcia, Epidemiologist
  • Jillian O’Donnell, Physician
  • Vance Berry, Immigration Lawyer
  • Cindy Rivas, Goldman Sachs
  • Mary Petrulis Wren, Physician
  • Jared Shelly, Fulbright Scholar
  • Ben Ersing, Enterprise Strategist
  • Daniel Boccio, ISF Entry Agent, Ken Lehat Associates
  • Jamie Ferrell Bailey, Immigration Lawyer
  • Keke Nichols, Teacher
  • Ali Greenberg, Brand Strategist

“More than an area studies about a singular region, the LACS Program explores the Americas in the broader sense. To understand today’s Western Hemisphere, students must make interdisciplinary connections that transcend political borders. From Canada to Chile and Bermuda to Brazil, our curriculum focuses on the unique experiences that define the Americas.”

Jeffrey BarnettLACS Program Head

Mónica Botta

Program Head

Shirley Richardson

Administrative Assistant

Core Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Affiliated Faculty

These professors teach courses in the LACS Program.