The mission of the Latina/o Studies Program at Penn State is to promote a critical understanding of the historical and contemporary position of Latinas/os in the U.S. This goal is to be achieved through the following:
- Undergraduate and graduate courses that foster an understanding of Latinas/os in the U.S. political system, economy, and culture.
- Research and scholarship by faculty and students that contribute to our knowledge about the historical and contemporary experiences of Latinas/os.
- Public programming and community outreach that raise awareness of issues that Latinas/os face and contributions they make in different arenas
This program is predicated on several assumptions:
- Latinas/os are not a monolithic population and there is no single Latina/o experience per se in the U.S. Like Americans in general, Latinas/os have diverse backgrounds, experiences, and positions in the U.S. This heterogeneity is reflected in the geography of settlement patterns, places of origin, and connections to Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean. It is also reflected in the generation, legal status, religion, class, gender, sexuality, race, and languages of Latinas/os.
- Academic and scholarly goals are to be met through interdisciplinarity. Latina/o Studies at Penn State offers courses across disciplines and departments. We draw on the scholarly expertise of professors from the humanities and social sciences within the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Education, and others. We offer classes on Latino and Latin American history; the artistic achievements of Latinas/os in popular culture, literature, theater, film and television; the demographics and migratory flows of Latina/o populations; bilingual education and other issues related to language and identity; and labor issues. These courses demonstrate that studying Latina/o social formations is a critical component of understanding the history of this country as well as the U.S. presence in Latin America and the complex phenomenon called “globalization.”
- Although the emphasis of Latina/o Studies is on the U.S., the contribution of immigration to the growing Latina/o population and globalization in general require an understanding of Mexico, Central and South America, and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.