The Program: Latin American And Caribbean  Area Studies (LACAS)

LACAS Major | Honors Program | Minor | Clarifications and Recommendations | LACAS Learning Outcomes | LACAS/MPA Accelerated 5-Year B.A. and M.A. Degree Program

Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies (LACAS)

Undergraduate Program

The Latin American and Caribbean Studies major offers an interdisciplinary and transnational approach to the study of Latin America, the Caribbean and peoples of Latin American and Caribbean descent. LACAS majors and minors learn methodologies and theoretical perspectives for studying historical processes, cultural dynamics, and social and economic problems across the Americas. LACAS majors and minors build skills in research, critical thinking, and effective communication.

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LACAS Major

The undergraduate major in Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies is a well-established program that began in 1973. The Latin American and Caribbean Studies major offers an interdisciplinary and transnational approach to the study of Latin America, the Caribbean and peoples of Latin American and Caribbean descent. LACAS majors learn methodologies and theoretical perspectives for studying historical processes, cultural dynamics, and social and economic problems across the Americas. LACAS majors build skills in research, critical thinking, and effective communication.

 1. Complete a minimum of 10 courses selected from among those parented by or cross-listed with LACAS; courses with content on U.S. Latin@s, the Caribbean and/or Latin America; or any other course approved by the LACAS Committee. The following requirements apply:

  • At least one course in each of the three separate departments;
  • Two of the following three courses: LACS 200, LACS 210, LACS 202. None of these can be taken Pass/Fail;
  • One course in library research (e.g., LACS 271) or research methodology, in which the major project focuses on Latin America and/or the Caribbean. The course cannot be taken Pass/Fail;
  • One literature course related to Latin America and/or the Caribbean;
  • Five advanced courses (300 level or above), of which one must be 400 level;
  • No more than half of the courses may be taken outside Binghamton University;
  • No more than one of the non-required courses can be taken Pass/Fail.

2. Show a proficiency in a language relevant to the area of specialization (e.g., Spanish, French, English, Portuguese, Creole, Dutch). The LACAS language requirement can be met through one or more of the following means:

  •  By taking an intermediate level course in a language relevant to the LACAS major (e.g., SPAN 211, SPAN 212, SPAN 215, SPAN 244, FREN 211, FREN 215).
  • If a student has taken the Advanced Placement Test in High School in a language relevant to the LACAS major (e.g., Spanish, French, English, Portuguese, Creole, Dutch).
  • By taking the CLEP, or College Level Examination Program in a language relevant to the LACAS major (e.g., Spanish, French, English, Portuguese, Creole, Dutch). (http://clep.collegeboard.org/).
  • Students who are native or heritage speakers in a language relevant to the LACAS major may request a waiver of the requirement from the program.

Students whose language of preference is not offered by the university or tested by the Advanced Placement Test in High School or CLEP will be formally evaluated by a professor appointed by the LACAS Director for that purpose.

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LACAS Senior Thesis and Honors Program

To be eligible to earn honors in the Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies Program, a student majoring in LACAS must have:

  •  A grade-point average of 3.5 or above in LACAS courses by the beginning of the first semester of their fourth year;
  • A 3.0 or above overall GPA by the beginning of the first semester of their fourth year; and
  • Completed an independent study course (LACS 497) that results in a research paper that is judged to be of honors quality (grade of A), or earn honors in the Senior Thesis course (LACS 498). The work is evaluated by a committee designated by the LACAS Director.

Anyone interested in pursuing LACAS Honors should declare it by the end of the second semester of their junior year in order to allow for adequate planning of the independent research project.

Fieldwork and LACAS Senior Thesis and Honors Program

Students may pursue fieldwork research as part of their fulfillment towards the requirements for a LACAS Senior Thesis and Honors Program. The fieldwork can be carried out in one of the following: (a) Latin America; (b) the Caribbean; or (c) in Latin@/Chican@/Caribbean communities in Binghamton or other parts the United States. For students interested in study abroad, LACAS recognizes SUNY study-abroad programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The fieldwork site would be chosen in consultation with the LACAS Director or Associate Director, and according to a research proposal developed by the student during the semester prior to their fieldwork but no later than the end of the second semester of their junior year. All students pursuing fieldwork must take LACS 271 or another approved research methodology course prior to beginning their study. In addition, they must meet the following course requirements depending on their chosen research site:

  • Students who undertake fieldwork locally must register for a minimum of eight (up to 12) independent study/field research credits with LACAS during the semester of research (LACS 496 and LACS 497).
  • Students conducting fieldwork elsewhere in the U.S. sign up for LACS 496 and LACS 497 and must be supervised by a LACAS affiliated faculty coordinator on site.
  • Students conducting fieldwork abroad register through the Office of International Programs (for LACS 496 and LACS 497).

At the completion of their fieldwork, students register for LACS 498 (LACAS Senior Thesis). At that time, students write up the results of their fieldwork in a senior thesis. An A grade in the Senior Thesis would result in the student being granted Honors.

For more information contact the LACAS Director or Associate Director.

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LACAS Minor

The LACAS minor offers an interdisciplinary and transnational approach to the study of Latin America, the Caribbean and peoples of Latin American and Caribbean descent.  The minor is designed for undergraduates who wish to graduate with formal recognition for coursework in the field without undertaking all the requirements of a major. To qualify for the LACAS minor, a student must complete a minimum of six courses selected from among courses parented by or cross listed with LACAS; courses with content on U.S. Latin@s, the Caribbean and/or Latin America; or any other course approved by the LACAS Committee. The following stipulations apply:

  •  At least two courses must be upper-level courses (300 or above) (excluding LACS 395, LACS 397);
  • LACS 200;
  • At least one of the following two courses: LACS 202, LACS 210;
  • Only one of the six courses can be LACS 395 or LACS 397;
  • All courses for the minor must be passed with a minimum of C-;
  • No more than half the courses may be taken outside Binghamton;
  • A course taken under the Pass/Fail grading option may not be used to fulfill requirements for the minor.

Any student interested in pursuing a LACAS minor should meet with the LACAS Director or Associate Director to discuss the requirements and their plan of study.

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LACAS Undergraduate Majors and Minors: Clarifications and Recommendations

Students interested in the major or minor should keep the following in mind:

  •  The main difference between the major and the minor is that the major requires a minimum of 10 courses and the minor requires a minimum of six courses;
  • The Honors Program includes the design and execution of a research project that can include fieldwork abroad;
  • Depending on the nature of the courses, some courses taken in Latin American and/or Caribbean universities may be used to fulfill part of the requirements for the major and/or the minor;
  • It is strongly recommended (but not required) that students interested in the LACAS major combine that major with a major or minor in another department or program. This ensures further background in a related field.

In accordance with normal Harpur College policy, students may use the same course(s) to fulfill part of the course requirements for both their LACAS major and a second major. At least four of the courses for student’s LACAS minor must be in addition to those counted towards the student’s major.

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 LACAS/MPA Accelerated 5-Year B.A. and M.A. Degree Program

 The LACAS major offers students the opportunity to complete both a bachelor of arts (BA) and a master of public administration (MPA) in five (5) years. Normally, students must have at least a 3.5 GPA in their LACAS courses and at least a 3.2 GPA overall, or a 3.5 GPA overall. In addition:

  • Students should meet with the Coordinator of Student Services in the Department of Public Administration as soon as possible, but no later than the beginning of their senior year. Application and admissions are through the Department of Public Administration and the Graduate School. Upon acceptance to the program, students will need to successfully complete the B.A. in year four (including all General Education and major requirements).
  • Once admitted, the student can take 18-24 credits as an undergraduate, but must take at least 18 credits as a graduate student.  All requirements of the master's program must be met, including maintaining a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA for graduate work.
  • For the requirements for the MPA, see Public Administration (MPA) in the University Bulletin under Graduate Fields of Study by Department.

LACAS Learning Outcomes

By graduation, all LACAS majors will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of historical processes, cultural dynamics, and social and economic problems affecting Latin America, the Caribbean, and people of Latin American and Caribbean descent.

2. Demonstrate ability to carry out original research, including the ability to (1) design independent research projects, (2) evaluate scholarship, and (3) implement research projects by searching for, obtaining, critically evaluating, and utilizing sources for information on Latin America, the Caribbean, and/or people of Latin American and Caribbean descent

3. Demonstrate ability to communicate original arguments and research findings clearly and effectively in writing and oral presentation. Students might show additional competency in communicating through digital, audiovisual, or visual media.

4. Demonstrate knowledge of methodologies or theoretical paradigms drawn from more than one discipline for studying Latin America, the Caribbean, and people of Latin American and Caribbean descent.

 

Revised April 2016

Last Updated: 10/17/16