The University of Oregon will debut a new interdisciplinary minor in Latinx studies this fall that draws on a long history of scholarship and teaching across campus.
“Our aim is to make the UO a leading destination for all undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing courses, research and careers related to Latinx communities,” said Audrey Lucero, an associate professor of education studies and director of the new minor. “I’m excited to be working with a group of committed faculty and staff across campus to offer this new field of study to all undergraduates at UO.”
Housed in the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Latinx studies minor aims to prepare and empower students with a broad understanding of the history, culture, complexity and diversity of Latinx peoples in the U.S. and Latin America.
Spanning the humanities, social sciences and professional schools, courses within the minor are taught by nearly 40 faculty members across 14 UO departments. Many of them also conduct research and collaborate with grassroots organizations that directly serve Latinx communities.
UO undergrads can apply for the minor to supplement any degree or major course of study, adding special knowledge about the perspectives of Latinx communities. Students who complete the minor can expect to apply it in a variety of professional contexts, including careers in education, media, social services, health care and public policy.
“I’m so pleased to see this faculty-led initiative create a prominent place for the study of Latinx people, history and culture in our curriculum,” said Bruce Blonigen, the Tykeson Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “True excellence in education and scholarship is only possible when we engage with a diversity of perspectives, especially underrepresented perspectives. The new minor intends not only to educate our students about the Latinx experience, but also to encourage and support students to apply their knowledge in internships and other real-world experiences.”
In addition to bringing together students and faculty in the classroom, Latinx studies plans to sponsor a vibrant, yearlong slate of events for the entire campus community.
“Only the second such program in Oregon, our new program was designed to be especially attentive to the historically grounded and fast-growing Latinx community of the Pacific Northwest,” Lucero said, noting that Oregon is one of the top 15 ‘most-Hispanic’ states by share of census population.
As of 2019, more than 565,000 Latinx people call Oregon home, 13.4 percent of all residents.
“It is important that the University of Oregon is finally offering a formal program of Latinx studies, simply because it will be the beginning of Latinx community building,” said Karina Mora Lopez, a senior from Watsonville, California, who’s enrolled in the new minor.
“Latinx studies will add value to my ethnic studies major degree because my career goal after college is to attend law school and become a person who my Latinx community can use as resource,” she said. “College has always been my number-one priority as a first-generation student, and the Latinx studies minor just made it 10 times more important, due to the fact that I will be taking courses that will help me understand who I am and where my family and I come from.”
Students interested in minoring in Latinx studies are required to take Ethnic Studies 101, a broad survey of the study of race and ethnicity in the United States, and at least one 200-level course specifically focused on introduction to the study of Latinx peoples in the United States through the disciplinary lenses of language, literature, history, ethnography and critical theory.
To complete the minor, students must also earn 16 additional credits from an annual list of qualifying courses offered through various UO departments and professional schools. Details and a link to apply are available at the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies website.
—By Jason Stone, University Communications