As the 2000 census has made clear, the US is experiencing major changes in its demographic and cultural composition: Latinos, who now number 38.3 million, are now the largest minority group in the country. Latinos are becoming not only more numerous, but also more visible and prominent in all walks of life, including at universities like Tufts, whose student body is now between 7 and 8% Latino. Recognizing the significance of these changes, Tufts has approved a new interdisciplinary Latino Studies minor.
Because Latino Studies, like Latinos themselves, reside at the intersection of what is Latin American and what is “American,” the minor in Latino Studies allows students to emphasize either Latinos' connections with Latin America or their location within the U.S. racial and sociopolitical context. The minor thus serves as a “bridge” that encourages students to connect the theories, methodologies and content of the two supporting programs in new, intellectually exciting and productive ways. All students must take an introductory Latino Studies survey course and participate in a capstone experience involving work in one of Boston’s Latino communities.
The minor has been designed to serve the general population of Tufts students, Latino and non-Latino alike, who are interested in learning about cultural difference in general, and within the US in particular. While a minor in Latino Studies will be attractive to social science and humanities majors, it will also be useful to those students intending to enter professions in which knowledge of the various Latino communities will be a valuable resource, such as medicine, community health, dentistry, education, child development, urban and environmental planning, business, and international relations.