About the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) facilitates the study of Latin America from a multidisciplinary perspective.  The undergraduate concentration was first approved in 1973 and was later incorporated into the Center for Latin American Studies (eventually renamed CLACS) after its establishment in November of 1984.

CLACS is housed at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Letter from the Director

Since its inception in 1984, CLACS has fostered a dynamic partnership of students and teachers to discover, communicate, and preserve knowledge about Latin America and the Caribbean in the community and beyond. Each year the Center offers a lively interdisciplinary lecture series that brings scholars to Brown to present cutting edge research on Latin America and the Caribbean, international conferences and seminars on pressing public problems, film screenings, and cultural performances. With over 100 Brown faculty, visiting scholars, and professional staff affiliates, CLACS also counts among its recent professors-at-large former Latin American Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil) and Ricardo Lagos Escobar (Chile), and has organized recent visits by President Evo Morales (Bolivia), President Leonel Fernández (Dominican Republic), Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis (Haiti), and President Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico).

Ricardo Lagos and Professor Richard SnyderRicardo Lagos and Professor Richard Snyder

Faculty and students at Brown carry out an impressive range of activities on critical issues in the Americas, including globalization, democracy, urban violence, entrepreneurship, climate change and the environment, inequality and development, health, indigenous peoples and knowledge, and migration and diasporas. Faculty-student collaboration is a hallmark of the Center's initiatives. Graduate and undergraduate students are deeply involved in the Center's intellectual and outreach efforts, from planning lectures and conferences to mentoring Latino students in local high schools. Many Brown graduate and undergraduate students have been selected for Fulbright grants in Latin America and the Caribbean, and each year over 60 undergraduates study abroad in the region.

Evo Morales, President of BoliviaEvo Morales, President of Bolivia

In recent years, CLACS has played a leading role in setting a new agenda of Globalized Area Studies at Brown. The parochialism of much traditional area studies seems antiquated in the face of our increasingly interconnected globe. Educated citizens today require cosmopolitan skills that equip them to engage in global conversations and set human problems in a broad comparative perspective. Still, despite exaggerated claims that we now live in a flat and homogeneous world, profound cultural, social and political differences persist and emerge anew across and within regions. Grasping these differences and their implications, in turn, requires the nuanced contextual knowledge produced by area studies. Globalization thus creates a dual demand for knowledge that is broad and deep, alert to cross-regional patterns and commonalities yet also carefully attuned to contextual specificities.

CLACS Conference at the Watson InstituteCLACS Conference at the Watson Institute

To meet the challenge of fostering broad and deep knowledge, CLACS collaborates closely with the Watson Institute for International Studies, our sister area studies programs, and departments in the humanities, life, physical and social sciences to promote teaching and research on Latin America and the Caribbean that (1) explicitly sets the area in comparative, multi-sited, and cross-regional perspective, (2) self-consciously engages with disciplinary knowledge and debates, thereby contributing both to disciplines and to Latin American and Caribbean studies, and (3) centers on humanly important questions of pressing public and policy concern, from urban violence, to poverty and inequality, to climate change.

I hope you will join us in the excitement of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown.

Richard Snyder
Director, CLACS
Professor of Political Science