The Catholic University of America

Oct. 10, 2014

University Launches New Certificate in Latin American and Latino Studies


Beginning this semester, students can enroll in a new certificate program in Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS).

The launch of the new program will be celebrated on Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 4:30 p.m. in Great Room C of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. The event, which also celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, will feature music, food, and remarks from program director Sandra Barrueco, associate professor of psychology, and from members of the program’s steering committee, which includes Christopher Darnton, assistant professor of politics; Anna Deeny, visiting assistant professor of Spanish; and Julia Young, assistant professor of history.

The new certificate provides students with a multidisciplinary perspective on Latin American and Latino studies and requires proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese, or another language indigenous to Latin America.

The certificate is the second offering from the LALS program, which also has a curriculum for a minor. The certificate requires two core courses, four elective courses, and an advanced-level language course.

“Now students have two opportunities to develop their own scholarly skill set in LALS,” explains Barrueco. “The difference is that the certificate has more enhancements. You can engage in interdisciplinary work with professors across different departments and schools, which is really exciting, and then it has a linguistic proficiency component.”

“This program will add an additional boost for students as they go out into the job market,” adds Young. “They’ll be able to say they have a certain level of language fluency and an interdisciplinary familiarity with Latin American issues. This could be applied to almost any type of job or any type of major.”

Because of changing demographics in the United States and the Catholic Church, Barrueco says students today need to have a more global viewpoint in their scholarship. She hopes students from a variety of cultural backgrounds will be drawn to the program.

“One in four children in the United States are of Latino descent,” she says. “This is important in terms of future business practices, marketing practices, economic development, and policy. It’s important for our future to understand broader perspectives and cultural variations.”

“In terms of our Catholic mission and our Catholic identity, Latin America is a huge part of the Catholic world,” says Young. “LALS offers our students a chance for our students to examine our Catholic identity from the perspective of the entire Americas, not just the United States. Now that we have a Latin American pope, there’s even more interest in the region.”

Barrueco and Young note that the new program will be beneficial for faculty as well. The two have identified more than 30 professors at CUA who have some sort of expertise in LALS. The interdisciplinary nature of the certificate means these professors from different schools and departments have a chance to collaborate. For example, Barrueco and Young didn’t know each other before getting involved in the program.

“We had never met, which is surprising because we have so many shared interests,” says Young.

“She studies the history of Mexico,” Barrueco chimes in. “I study Mexican-American children and families and their development. It’s helpful to understand the historic components of where they came from.”

In addition to LALS, the University offers certificate programs in cultural studies, such as Irish Studies, Islamic World Studies, and European Studies.

For more information on the LALS certificate, visit




More news from CUA