Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies (LACUSL)
The development of this program is the cooperative effort of two units at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) and the Roberto Hernández Center (RHC).
The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee develops, supports and promotes teaching, research and outreach about Latin America and the Caribbean. Services and resources are available to UWM faculty, staff and students; K-12 teachers and post-secondary educators; professional groups; and the community. CLACS seeks to promote informed, culturally sensitive perspectives for Wisconsin, the upper Midwest and the United States. Established in 1965, CLACS is designated a National Resource Center for Language and Area Studies by the U.S. Department of Education, jointly with the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at UW-Madison.
The RHC, established in the fall of 1996, was an outgrowth of the Latino advising office in the College of Letters and Science, and the Spanish Speaking Outreach Institute (SSOI), which was organized in 1971 through the initiative of community and student leaders who protested against institutional neglect of Latinos at UWM and in Milwaukee. They identified a range of educational needs shared by Latino residents in the Milwaukee area. The mission of the Roberto Hernández Center is to provide academic services that promote Latino student success, to engage in outreach to the Latino community and beyond and to support applied research pertinent to Latinos.
The need for the LACUSL program stems from (i) a strong interest among Latino students to identify with countries of origin in recognition of a pan-Latin identity, and (ii) an increasing national and international need for research and scholarship that moves beyond the nation-state and seeks to treat the peoples and cultures in the Americas as an integrated unit. The impact of globalization, the increasing importance of Latin American countries as political and economic players on the global stage, the growing influence of the Latino population in the U.S., and the increasing number of issues in which both the U.S. and Latin America are stakeholders are just some of the reasons that make this program imperative. There is a growing realization that institutions of higher learning need to expend a greater effort on research that develops a deeper understanding of the cultures of the Americas and on educating students to acquire this understanding, giving them the skills they need to address issues from the broadest possible perspective.