The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), founded in 1942 as part of the Department of History, offered its first Bachelor of Arts in Latin American Studies in 1959 and its first Master of Arts in Latin American Studies in 1967. The Center for Latin American Studies was officially formed in 1969. CLAS was one of the first Latin American National Resource Centers in the nation, earning the honor in 1976. In 1982, CILAS, The Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies at UCSD was founded, and in 1985 CILAS joined CLAS and formed the San Diego Consortium of Latin American Studies. Together, this Consortium promotes teaching, research, and public outreach on Latin America.
Today, the CLAS offers multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs in Latin American studies, including concurrent graduate degree programs with Public Health, Business Administration, and Public Administration. CLAS also offers a Certificate in Latin American Studies for professionals and teachers, and language training in Mixteco, Zapoteco, Nahuatl, and Aymara. In addition, CLAS supports research, community outreach, conferences, study abroad, and other activities dedicated to teaching students, working professionals, and community members about Latin American economies, aesthetics, ecology, society, culture, and languages.
As part of the San Diego Consortium and multiple international collaborations, CLAS offers diverse ways in which students can enhance and expand their educational experience. Currently, graduate students in Latin American Studies may take regular semester courses at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) located in Tijuana, B.C. We also offer a variety of summer abroad programs in Mexico and Cuba.
Our mission at the CLAS grounds our programs and defines our relationship to the larger community. The CLAS strives to: maintain and elaborate on the expertise of its faculty and staff; train the future Latin Americanists of the region; provide timely, accessible, and accurate knowledge on the historical and contemporary issues of Latin America to the region’s public; disseminate objective data and foster open debate and discussion on U.S./Latin American policies; and to provide accessible materials and training for teachers of all grade levels on Latin America.