March 21, 2007

Department expands Latino studies

Posted: March 21, 2007

The questions are abundant when one tries to explain what is taking place within the Latino community, the largest minority in the United States. The Latino community is growing faster than any other cultural group and with its growth, comes the need to expand academic concepts, ideas, theories and methods to fully prepare students for the present and the future.

The recently expanded and renamed Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies Department at ASU focuses on U.S. and Mexican regional immigration policy and economy, media literature and arts, and transborder community development and health – areas that have a significant impact in the Latino community.

The transformed department provides students with a value-added environment combining classroom instruction, applied field research, field station instruction in leadership and management, a rigorous program of methodological skills that span quantitative and qualitative approaches and an insistence in bilingualism and biliteracy.

It prepares them for the world of work in education, public service, commerce, NGOs, government, and it is limited only by the imagination of the individual says Carlos Velez-Ibanez chair of the department.

“In the first decade of the 21st century, 40 percent of the U.S. Mexican-origin population was born in Mexico,” says Velez-Ibanez. “Moreover, Mexican Americans now live in every state of the union, and large numbers of other Latino groups now live in close proximity to what were formerly nearly exclusive Mexican urban concentrations in cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix and others.” 

According to the U.S. census bureau, by 2050 more than 24 percent of the country's population will be of Latina/o origin, of which at least 65 percent will be of Mexican Origin.

In order to be current with the trends of the country, this academic unit in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will take special interest in the scholarship and research of transnational and transborder economies, societies and cultures of Mexico and Latin America with emphasis on how these are inexorably tied to the United States.

The department, previously named Chicana and Chicano Studies, was established more than a decade ago as an interdisciplinary academic field to study the history and current circumstances of Mexican Americans in this country.

Now, under its new name, the department will maintain a primary focus on Mexican origin populations and the Mexico-U.S. border region, yet also will offer opportunities for students to understand how Latinos are changing and will change the face of this countr y, says Velez Ibanez.

To celebrate its new name and expanded field of study, the Department of Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies will present the Inaugural Wells Fargo Distinguished Transborder Lecture, "Understanding America's Immigration Crisis," by Douglas J. Massey, the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

Massey is a renowned demographer and elected member of the National Academy of Sciences. His lecture will take place at 5 p.m., March 22 in the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre, Room E-126. A reception will follow.

The official launch of the department will take place from 2 to 3 p.m. March 23 in the Lattie Coor Hall First Floor, east portico. The celebration will include ASU Mariachi. For information call (480) 965-5091.

Adriana Elektra Sanchez, adriana.sanchez.1@asu.edu
480-965-9579