Requirements for Undergraduate Concentration in Latin American Studies (10 Courses)

1. Language and Literature (2 courses)

Basic competence in either Spanish or Portuguese is required. Students must take either HISP 0100-0500, POB0110, or any more advanced Spanish or Portuguese language course. This requirement may be satisfied by examination, but the examination will not be counted as a course. No more than one advanced language course (not including literature courses) may be counted among the ten courses required for the concentration.

Some familiarity with the literature of the region is required. Concentrators must take at least one of the following: HISP 0730, POB 0610, or a 1000-level Spanish or Portuguese literature course dealing with Latin America.

2. Area Studies (6-7 courses)

Two types of area-focused courses are required: (1) courses specifically designated “Latin American Studies” (LAST, not including LAST 1970-1980), and (2) courses in several departmental programs that demonstrate the ways in which various disciplines have contributed to our understanding of Latin America. Approved area studies courses for the concentration are listed in Appendix B of the Concentration Handbook.

At least two disciplines (not including Latin American Studies) must be represented among the six to eight area studies courses. Other 1000-level courses dealing with related subjects that are especially pertinent to the study of Latin America may be substituted with approval.

3. Research on Latin America (1-2 courses)

Concentrators are required to complete a major research paper or project on Latin America. This requirement can be met in one of three ways.

    1. A research paper written in an advanced undergraduate seminar (1000-level). The seminar must be among the approved area studies courses listed in Appendix B and will count as one of the ten courses required for the concentration. Research papers will typically be 20-30 pages in length and must be approved by the Concentration Advisor. Students who choose this option do not take LAST 1970 or 1980. The seminar counts as the research component of the program. The distribution requirements for this option are: 2 language classes, 7 area studies courses, and 1 research course (i.e., the seminar for which the paper is written).

    2. Senior Thesis or

    3. Senior Project.


4. Senior Thesis or Project includes course credit for a reading and research course (LAST 1970-1980). The Senior Thesis or Project is supervised by a faculty member who serves as the Primary Advisor, and one additional faculty member who serves as a Reader. The Primary Advisor and Reader are chosen by the student and approved by the Concentration Advisor. The Reader will receive a draft and a finished copy of the student’s thesis or project, which the Reader will be responsible for grading. The Reader may be involved in the earlier development of the thesis or project depending upon the arrangement made by the student with the Reader. The Senior Thesis or Project will normally consist of a major research paper. A student may, with prior permission of the Latin American Studies Concentration Advisor, present a film, videotape, museum exhibitions, or other appropriate project, together with a paper that clearly demonstrates the academic relevance of the project. Only the Senior Thesis qualifies the student (along with at least a B+ average) for Honors. The Senior Project is quite often of a more personal nature, such as observations on practice teaching. By the end of the sixth semester, students must submit a prospectus of the Senior Thesis or Project. At the start of the seventh semester students should submit to the Concentration Advisor a proposal (not more than four pages) accompanied by the signature of one faculty member indicating that he or she is willing to serve as the Primary Advisor on the project.

Examples of recent thesis topics or projects include: 

    1. Designing Private Water Markets in Latin America
    2. Desafuero and Democracy
    3. The Role of Colombian Civil Society in the Resolution of the Nation’s Conflict, Based on the Experience of Two Organizations
    4. Prospects for the Revitalization of the Chilean Labor Movement in the Post-Pinochet Era: An Historical Analysis
    5. Memorial as a Tool of Dissent: The Social Efficacy of Performance in Latin America
    6. Emergence of the Motherist Group: The Comrades and the Effect They Had on Women’s Participation in the Public Sphere in El Salvador

Due Dates for Senior Thesis or Project: During the second week of March, a complete draft of the Senior Thesis or Project must be given to the faculty advisor and reader for comments, and the final version of the Senior Thesis or Project is due during the second week of April. These deadlines are essential to allow the faculty time to evaluate these for awards, and to notify the Registrar with recommendations for honors. NO EXTENSIONS WILL BE GRANTED.

5. Internships / Community Service

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies goes beyond research and teaching to include outreach to the local Spanish and Portuguese speaking communities. Outreach activities are in keeping with a tradition of cooperation between staff and students at Brown and members of the large and diverse Latin American population in Rhode Island. An education in Latin American Studies would also not be complete without direct contact and experience working with the peoples of Latin America either abroad or locally. The Concentration in Latin American Studies requires students to complete an internship or volunteer service work in Latin America or with a local organization that works primarily with Spanish or Portuguese speaking people. The Center maintains a database of local and international internship opportunities. Students are also strongly encouraged to consult with the Swearer Center for Public Service. Internships and community service work are available to Brown students who study abroad at the Brown programs in Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba. Examples of local service work performed by concentrators in previous years include: helping compile a Spanish language guide to welfare service agencies, developing a culturally appropriate adaptation of a health testing and educational program, and ESL instruction to Latin American immigrants. Such extracurricular work can be rewarding in itself; in consultation with a faculty member, it can often be used to earn academic credit and furnish material for either a Senior Thesis or Project.

A minimum of one semester or a summer of internship or volunteer service work is required. Students need to submit an internship/service work proposal form to the Latin American Studies Concentration Advisor for approval prior to starting the internship or service work. Upon completion of the internship or service work, students are required to submit to the Concentration Advisor a brief summary report of their experience, which must be signed by the supervisor of the student’s internship or service work.


Qualified undergraduates may pursue work towards the B.A. with Honors. The requirements for graduation with Honors are the following:

  1. Maintenance of at least a B+ average in the ten courses counting for the concentration.
  2. Maintenance of at least a B+ average in all course work done for the B.A. at Brown.
  3. Completion of a Senior Thesis approved by the Primary Advisor and the Reader as acceptable for Honors. The Senior Thesis should be “A” level work, although an “A” thesis does not automatically qualify for Honors.

Prizes and Awards: Graduating seniors in Latin American Studies are eligible for an award administered by the concentration for an outstanding Senior Thesis.

Foreign Study  

Study abroad (usually in the junior year) is encouraged as an important part of the concentration. Interested students should begin early to prepare for such a venture. A list of Brown programs and approved non-Brown programs is available from the Office of International Programs (OIP) located in J. Walter Wilson. Feel free to consult the Latin American Studies Concentration Advisor about study abroad.

Visit the CLACS Study Abroad page for more information