UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program

About LAIS

Established first in the 1970s as “Hispanic Civilizations,” the Program in Latin American and Iberian Studies (LAIS) at UC Santa Barbara is the oldest interdisciplinary program on our campus, and the only one in the UC system that offers an Iberian component. LAIS provides training both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, offering Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Masters of Arts (M.A.) degrees. At the undergraduate level LAIS can also be taken as a minor.

LAIS examines the people and cultures of Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries throughout the world. Such study encompasses not only Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, but also Angola, Mozambique, the Philippines, Macao, and Chicano and Puerto Rican populations in the U.S. However, most students center their studies on Latin America and its linguistically diverse populations. For, even though Spanish and Portuguese are the region’s predominant languages, millions speak Quechua, Aymara, Nahuatl, Guaraní, Mayan, and many other indigenous languages. Likewise, Catalan and Basque are widely spoken in Spain, among other Iberian languages. Now in LAIS, thanks to the increasingly diverse linguistic expertise of its faculty, we are able to offer a training that encompasses a variety of these otherwise neglected –cultural, linguistic and political– perspectives within the Latin American and Iberian world.  

At its core LAIS is interdisciplinary. LAIS examines the region from a variety of disciplines within the humanities and social sciences:  from fine arts and media studies and literature, to history, anthropology, sociology, political science, linguists, geography, and environmental studies.

LAIS Diversity Statement

The Latin American and Iberian Studies Program (LAIS) at UC Santa Barbara values diversity, inclusion, equity, social justice, and academic freedom. Diversity encompasses various qualities, including race, ethnicity, class, gender, culture, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexuality, legal and educational status, age, national origin, epistemological approaches, and geographic region.  We aim to ensure that all students, staff and faculty are valued, respected, accepted, heard and welcomed.  The interdisciplinary nature of our program, and our focus on  Latin America and Iberia, two widely diverse geographical regions of the world, linguistically, culturally, ethnically, geographically, , makes diversity  intrinsic to our educational and research missions. Students can choose courses from a wide variety of disciplines and establish close mentorship relationships with faculty  coming to the most diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Several of our faculty and staff, and many –if not most– of our students are the first generation in their family to go to college, and come from underrepresented groups in academia. This is a testament to our inclusive vocation.  We recognize current and historical injustices, and are committed to increasing our awareness of them through teaching, research, and in our daily interactions. This is  a necessary step to build a society in which every life is valued equally and every one is treated with respect and equity.  We support academic freedom and the mission of the University of California, which is to serve the interests of our state by ensuring that students and employees reflect the diversity of our population. By broadening and deepening our understanding of the current and historical reality of Latin America and Iberia we aim to prepare our students and support our faculty and staff to be active and thoughtful participants in our complex global society.