College Bulletin 2023-2024 
    Jun 20, 2024  
College Bulletin 2023-2024

Latin American and Latino Studies



SAM HANDLIN (Political Science), Coordinator
Cheryl Sharp, Administrative Coordinator
Deborah B Sloman, Administrative Assistant


Elaine Allard (Educational Studies)
Diego Armus (History)3
Alejandra Azuero-Quijano (Sociology and Anthropology)
Nanci Buiza (Spanish)
Désirée Díaz (Spanish)
Samuel Handlin (Political Science)
Luciano Martínez (Spanish)
Edwin Mayorga (Educational Studies)
Roberto Vargas (McCabe Library)

Affiliated Faculty:
Paloma Checa-Gismero (Art History)
José Luis Machado (Biology)
James Padilioni (Religion)
Salvador Rangel (Sociology)3

3 Absent on leave, 2023-2024.


Swarthmore’s Latin American and Latino Studies Program introduces students to the shared history and the rich diversity of Latin American societies, cultures and nation-states, as well as with the transnational dynamics that shape Latino, Latina and Latinx experiences in the United States. Students in the program draw on a variety of disciplines for a fuller understanding of how to conceptualize “Latin America” and “latinidad” in all their complexity.  Spoken language, literature and visual culture; pre-colonial, colonial, and modern history; indigenous, immigrant, and diasporic experiences; political and economic systems and social movements; religion, spirituality and other forms of devotion; and socioeconomic conditions and cultural identities all figure into this far-ranging and broadly inclusive course of study. Courses in sociology, educational studies, history, Spanish, religion, political science, peace and conflict studies, and art history contribute to this exciting interdisciplinary program.

Students may pursue a minor or a special major in Latin American and Latino Studies.  Studying beyond the traditional classroom walls provides students with invaluable opportunities for enriching intellectual experiences and personal growth.  Most students pursuing a minor or a special major spend at least one semester abroad in Latin America. For students who are unable to study abroad for whatever reason, completing an internship or community service project in a Latinx community in the U.S. offers another way of experiencing a meaningful off-campus experience with the community.

The Academic Program

Students interested in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program are invited to consult with the program coordinator and members of the LALS Committee before developing a proposal. The proposal should establish how Latin American and Latino Studies relates to the overall program of undergraduate study and to the departmental major. The minor is open to students of all divisions.

Course Minor

Latin American and Latino Studies minors must complete the following requirements:


LALS requires the successful completion of SPAN 004 Intensive Advanced Spanish or its equivalent.

This requirement is waived for native and heritage speakers of Spanish, and for students who demonstrate sufficient competence in this or another Latin American language (including Portuguese and relevant indigenous languages), as determined by the Latin American and Latino Studies Committee. Note: LALS credit is not offered for language courses.


Students must complete a minimum of 5 Latin American and Latino Studies-eligible courses and/or seminars.

  • These 5 courses must span both the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences Divisions.
  • In order to develop a basic introduction to Latin America as a social, political and cultural region, students must complete one of the following courses, preferably by the end of their sophomore year: HIST 004: Introduction to Latin American History; POLS 057: Latin American Politics; or SPAN 012: Imágenes y contextos hispánicos.
  • Only 1 of the total 5 courses required for the Latin American and Latino Studies minor may overlap with a student’s major or other minor.
  • To graduate with a minor or a special major in Latin American and Latino Studies, a student must maintain a minimum grade of “B” in the program, and a “C” average in any other course work.

Study Abroad or Other Immersive Learning Experience

  • The immersive experience may take one of two forms: either studying abroad in a program approved by both the Latin American and Latino Studies Committee and the Off-Campus Study Office, or completing a semester-long internship or community service project in Latin America or in a Latinx community in the U.S. Either option should be approved by the Latin American and Latino Studies coordinator.
  • Students may apply two courses from work taken abroad in Latin America to their Latin American and Latino Studies academic program.
  • Courses taken abroad must have a clear Latin American focus and must be preapproved by the appropriate department in order to count for the LALS minor.
  • Study abroad must be pursued in Spanish or Portuguese. Students must complete Spanish 004, or its equivalent, before going abroad.
  • Language courses are not eligible for study abroad credit.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to complete the introductory course requirement (see above) prior to their immersive off-campus learning experience.

Honors Minor

To complete an honors minor in Latin American and Latino Studies, students must have completed all requirements for the interdisciplinary minor. From within these offerings, they may select for outside examination a seminar taken to fulfill the interdisciplinary minor’s requirements. However, the seminar chosen may not be an offering within their major department.

Special Major

Students may plan a Latin American and Latino Studies special major that includes closely related work in one or more departments. Students must have completed at least two LALS-related courses with grades of B or better to be accepted into the major.  Students also have the possibility of designing an individualized special major in coordination with other departments.

Special majors consist of at least 10 courses and no more than 12 courses.

Latin American and Latino Studies special majors and individualized special majors must complete the major comprehensive requirement of a 1-credit thesis or other written research project designed to integrate the work across departmental boundaries, or a comprehensive examination. Any student interested in pursuing an individualized special major must meet with the LALS Program Coordinator to establish a concrete plan for meeting these requirements.

Life After Swarthmore

Swarthmore graduates who have taken part in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program find that their rich understanding of the cultures and people of Latin America and Latinos in the U.S. is attractive to employers. Graduates most frequently pursue careers in public service, law, government, education, humanities, social sciences, and the media.