Through its involvement with regions south of the United States, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, recognizes the profound interconnections that exist between areas formally distinguished as “Latin America” and “North America.” Through research and teaching, faculty work with students to explore the many ways in which old regional barriers are dissolving, leading to new integrations of populations, cultures, and economies. To this end, the range of study on Latin America and the Caribbean is broad, covering politics, economics, languages, cultures, literatures, and the natural environment.
The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) in New Brunswick offers a major and minor in Latin American studies, which provide students with enriching educations in language, culture, politics, and history. CLAS faculty teach in a wide range of departments, allowing them to bring multiple perspectives into the classroom. The Center for Latino Arts and Culture (CLAC) strives to expand the knowledge and interest of Latin culture. Programs and projects every year enhance the program and inspire leadership and awareness. Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies (LHCS) faculty study the cultures and societies of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. LHCS offers a major and minor, and offers courses such as Cuban History, Latino Politics in the US, and African Belief Systems and the Latino Community. These centers and department enjoy close working relationships with one another in order to provide a thorough and comprehensive student education and experience.
On the Rutgers–Camden campus there is also a Latin American Studies Program. It was created for students who intend to travel, work, or study in the Latin American region. Students interested in any and all areas and cultures, which span from the Mexican border to the bottom tip of Argentina, can receive a minor that prepares students for a profession in teaching.
Rutgers provides students with a wide range of international experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its students now study in a range of countries, from the Dominican Republic to Argentina and Brazil. In addition, Rutgers is a pioneer in international service learning, with annual programs in Bolivia and Mexico, where students learn about Latin American life as they direct their energies to creating positive transformations in the lives of the people with whom they study. More recently, these efforts have been strengthened by collaborative efforts with graduate faculty. One such initiative at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) prepares students who participate in the Language Education program in Teaching English to Language Learners (TELL) to teach and/or tutor English Language learners in Limón, Costa Rica.
Faculty from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) conduct research and enrich Rutgers educational opportunities through active partnerships throughout Latin America. Research topics range from the intersections of race, slavery, and environment in Trinidad and Tobago (Human Ecology) and the study of nuclear winter in Cuba (Environmental Sciences) to population genetics in Argentina (Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources). Extensive research conducted by SEBS faculty in South America include exploration of evolutionary biology and the biodiversity of tropical plants (Plant Sciences and Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources) and the study of soil-plant-atmosphere interactions (Environmental Sciences).
One strong area of focus is the multiple connections between Mexico and the United States. Globalization and ongoing migration between these two neighbors is producing increasing hemispheric integration, which Rutgers faculty and students are dedicated to understanding. Rutgers is on its way to becoming the leading public research university dedicated to the study of Mexico and the transnational integration of North America on the eastern seaboard of the United States.
In 2010, the GSE initiated an agreement to begin a scholarly exchange of students, faculty, and research activities with Universidad de Centro Educativo Latinomericano (UCEL) in Rosario, Argentina. As part of this exciting relationship with UCEL, the Graduate School of Education conducts an annual study tour, conference, and a variety of collaborations and digital-distance educational activities. The Argentina Study Tour is led by faculty member Nydia Flores. Her research focuses on Spanish language and its use in society and Spanish language education. Students who participate in this program take seminars related to language, culture, and education. As part of the full immersion experience, students engage in service learning in an elementary school and live with host families.
Rutgers has a central focus on research, teaching, and service activities related to the Caribbean. The university has an established history of study in the Hispanic Caribbean, and has a growing expertise on the British, French, and Dutch Caribbean. The strong interest in the region is reflected in various interdisciplinary initiatives and events, such as the Rutgers Initiative on Caribbean Studies in 2009, which capitalized on the growing focus of Rutgers University faculty on the region by bringing together leading scholars to chart the field’s history and its new directions.
Rutgers faculty active in research on the Caribbean come from a range of departments and academic centers, including anthropology, sociology, history, comparative literature, English, French, human ecology, Spanish and Portuguese, and women’s and gender studies. Their research covers diverse issues, among them housing, gender, race, health, literature, and migration. Scholars of the Caribbean, in the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS), the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (BSPPP), and other divisions mentor and lead graduate students with interest in the region.
The Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies Department (LHCS) has an undergraduate major and minor curriculum, including a range of interdisciplinary courses on the history, politics, and culture of the Caribbean. The department effectively consolidates much of the work being done on the Caribbean across the university, hosting conferences and events throughout the year with a specific focus on the Caribbean. It also works on specific projects with outside organizations committed to the study of the Caribbean, such as the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College and the Institute for Caribbean Studies. Many other departments including Political Science, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Africana Studies offer elective courses on the Caribbean.
Undergraduate education on the Caribbean is complemented by internships, exchange programs, and events organized by centers throughout the university. The Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences (IMCS) in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) runs several courses and internship offerings in the Caribbean. These include the Caribbean Coral Reef Internship program where students partner with scientists researching coral reef structure and diversity and fish populations in the Little Cayman Research Center in the Bahamas. The Center for Latino Arts and Culture (CLAC) hosts events and programs on Caribbean arts and culture and has offered Spring Break trips to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Rutgers study abroad programs in Barbados complete a robust undergraduate academic focus on the Caribbean.