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Our Story

The University of Washington’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) program in the Jackson School of International Studies was established in 1992. Our mission is the advancement of scholarship and applied knowledge about the lands, waters, peoples, and histories of our region. Understanding that our region and its people are quite literally on the move, we encourage students to think about the complex processes that push and pull peoples, ideas, resources and commodities across borders. Faculty, staff and students work in close collaboration through research, interdisciplinary education, experiential and service learning, as well as community outreach and partnerships. The program is built around several region-specific themes. These include the creative arts, borderlands, political economy, health and human rights, indigeneity, race and ethnicity.

The LACS program is housed in the Henry M. School of International Studies. Graduates from this program go on to successful careers in business, government, education, non-governmental organizations, law, diplomacy, arts, and other fields. Many also use the degree as a step toward graduate study in history, business administration, economics, anthropology, and other fields at top universities. The major’s popularity stems from an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines the strengths of regional and comparative international studies with study and research opportunities in specific academic disciplines. Students graduate with both a comprehensive understanding of Latin America and a rich knowledge of the global processes affecting the region and its people. Students can also pursue practical training in a thematic area of choice such as Media Studies, NGO Management, Immigration, or Gender Studies.

A word about our logo. In 2014, LACS faculty and staff chose the image of a sea turtle as the logo for our program. Like the peoples of the Americas, the amphibious turtle lives in and navigates the many waters and lands of Pacific and Atlantic worlds. The sea turtle is a creature on the move, representing migration, transnationality, transculturation, resilience and adaptation. The LACS turtle is inspired by Native iconographies of the Shipibo, Maya, Nahua, and Rapa Nui peoples, linking North and South, Oceania and Americas. It was designed by Caridad Iraola (Lima, Peru).