New BA Program in Latin American Studies to Begin This Fall

Posted: April 26, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

This fall, the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) will roll out a new interdisciplinary major in Latin American Studies (LAS), which will join a preexisting minor program.

Undergraduate students who enroll in the new BA program will have to complete a total of 31 credits in Latin American history, literature, geography, economics, anthropology, government, and international politics. The program’s senior capstone course will be Latin American Studies 499, an intensive research seminar that will count toward George Mason’s general education synthesis requirement and will culminate in a major project. All students will be required to demonstrate reading, speaking, or writing knowledge in either Spanish or Portuguese.

“The recent trend toward globalization and economic integration as well as the explosion of Latino immigration to the United States has made knowledge of Latin America crucial for Americans,” says Matthew Karush, director of Latin American Studies and an associate professor in the Department of History and Art History. “This means that the demand for college graduates with a solid understanding of Latin America is steadily rising.”

Because the university has 13 faculty members across several departments that specialize in some aspect of Latin American Studies, Karush notes that it was “very easy for us to construct a major that would provide students with an opportunity to complete an exciting interdisciplinary program of study on the region.”

Cesar Vence is one student who has already expressed an interest in the new BA program. “The situation in Latin America has always been interesting to me,” he says. “Coming to the United States from my native Colombia allowed me to see things from a different perspective, and I realized that there needs to be some kind of change in Latin America. I am thrilled with the new program. I was a finance major when I first transferred to George Mason, but after hearing about the new BA in Latin American Studies, I decided to change my major.”

Karush notes that the university’s location in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area will allow students to take advantage of an array of internships and research opportunities offered by nonprofit organizations, the international diplomatic community, the U.S. government, and the region’s steadily growing Latino community. “As we continue to build the program, we will be concentrating specifically on making internship and study abroad opportunities available to our majors,” he says. “In addition, we’ll continue to bring speakers and other guests to campus in order to raise the profile of the Latin American Studies minor and major.”

George Mason currently offers a BA and a minor, as well as an MA, in Spanish through the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

For more information about the new BA program, visit the web site or e-mail Karush at

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