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College of Letters & Science

Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program (LACIS)

Requirements for the Major
Honors in the Major
Sample Programs

209 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-2811; lacis@lacis.wisc.edu; www.lacis.wisc.edu

The Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS) teaching staff consists of all faculty who teach Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian language and area content courses.

Undergraduate advisor: Sarah Ripp, 209 Ingraham, 608-262-0616, skripp@wisc.edu.

Faculty diversity liaison: Hernando Rojas, hrojas@wisc.edu.  

The Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program is one of the major U.S. centers for research about Latin America. The program is for those who seek a multidisciplinary education on Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, and Portugal. This program offers a wide range of courses in fields such as anthropology, business, economics, geography, history, journalism, music, political science, sociology, Spanish and Portuguese, and other departments.

The aims of the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies major are to provide: (1) a broad exposure to Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies by requiring students to take area and language content courses; (2) basic working knowledge in Spanish and/or Portuguese; (3) flexibility which allows students to take courses of interest, study abroad, and develop innovative academic projects; and (4) career-related advice and opportunities including volunteer work and internships with international organizations. Students should contact the undergraduate advisor to determine which courses may satisfy major requirements. A minimum of 40 credits is required for the LACIS major. Upon declaration of the LACIS major, an assessment file is opened for each student which will include: (1) the development and submission of an "area of concentration", (2) writing samples (3) results of a language proficiency exam, and (4) an exit survey.

Requirements for the Major

1. Introductory Requirement

Choose one of the following three options to fulfill the introductory requirement:

  1. Poli Sci 260 Latin America: An Introduction
  2. History 241 Colonial Latin America
  3. History 242 Modern Latin America

The 260 Introduction to Latin America course is a 4-credit, interdepartmental course (crosslisted in anthropology, geography, history, political science, sociology, or Spanish). This course is generally available only in the spring semester. Students are encouraged to take this course as early as possible in their undergraduate careers. A student may also take History 241 or History 242 to satisfy this requirement. Occasionally, specially assigned courses will fulfill this requirement.

2. Language Requirement

Students must either complete or test out the fourth semester of Spanish or Portuguese. In addition, four courses in Spanish and/or Portuguese language, literature, and civilization above the 220 level are required. With approval of the undergraduate advisor, courses in Yucatec Maya or Quechua may apply.

3. Area of Concentration

Students must take at least five courses with a minimum of 25% Latin American, Caribbean, and/or Iberian content in an area of concentration that the student self-selects. The concentration may be disciplinary (history, anthropology, etc.) or topical (poverty, gender, social justice, etc.). The courses in the area of concentration cannot be Spanish or Portuguese language or literature courses. Study abroad courses often satisfy major requirements, but students should consult with the advisor before and during the study abroad program to ensure that the credits transfer. Courses for the concentration can be chosen from the LACIS Master Course List, or the LACIS-Approved Course List published each semester—both lists are available on the LACIS Website. Note: These lists may not reflect all current offerings.

4. Breadth Requirement

Students must complete three courses outside the area of concentration which can be: (1) additional courses in Spanish and Portuguese language, literature and civilization over the 220 level; (2) courses in Quechua or Yucatec Maya; or (3) additional LACIS courses outside the area of concentration.

Notes: Students are encouraged to register in this major by the beginning of the junior year. Those considering a major in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies should consult the undergraduate advisor as early as possible in their academic career since a number of L&S requirements in humanities and social sciences may be met by courses in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies. Students who enter the University without previous training in Spanish or Portuguese are urged to begin language study in the freshman year.

All students are required to fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Courses numbered 300-699 count toward this requirement.

Honors in the Major

Students wishing to pursue honors in the major should contact the LACIS undergrad advisor, Sarah Ripp. The LACIS Honors in the Major track is comprised of three essential components:

  1. GPA standards;
  2. Honors coursework in the major; and
  3. a year-long honors research experience

In addition to the college-wide requirements of a 3.3 cumulative GPA, and the LACIS requirement of a 3.4 GPA in the major, students are required to complete a minimum of 18 credits of Honors work in the major (grade B or better), including:

  1. LACIS Introductory Course taken for Honors: (Interdepartmental 260: Introduction to Latin American Studies OR History 241: Colonial Latin America, Conquest to Independence OR History 242: Modern Latin America, from Independence to Present);
  2. Senior Capstone Seminar taken for Honors (INTL ST 603);
  3. Research Experience (LACIS 681-682): Honors Thesis (2 semesters, 6 units) OR a two-semester research-based alternative.

Note: Honors Thesis units should be taken under the department of the advising professor. In the past some students have used a Hilldale Project or a Wisconsin Idea Fellowship as an alternative to the Thesis requirement.

Sample Programs

The following list illustrates examples of "area of concentration" programs selected by Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian studies majors:

History and Culture Emphasis
Environment and Development Emphasis
Media and Politics Emphasis
Gender Studies and Human Rights Emphasis

For details about advanced degrees and courses in this program, see the Graduate School Catalog.