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LAS 208 is an introductory course to Latin American Studies that makes a practical and interesting addition to any student’s schedule.

1. There are no prerequisites 

As indicated by its label as an intro class, the course requires no background knowledge, providing every Miami student the opportunity to explore new places and cultures all from the comfort of campus.

2. You don’t have to speak Spanish or Portuguese

Although Latin America consists predominantly of Spanish or Portuguese-speaking nations, the course is taught completely in English. You will, however, have the chance to pick up a few foreign words here and there.

3. The class size is small

With only around 20 students in the classroom, there’s plenty of opportunity for small group discussion and one-on-one interaction with the professor. Asking questions feels comfortable and you’ll have a chance to make close friends.

4. It meets general education requirements

For College of Arts and Science majors, the course fulfills the social science requirement, and it can also cover the global course and intercultural perspectives requirement. Not to mention, it may serve as part of a thematic sequence for any student as well.

5. The course is interdisciplinary

Regardless of personal interests, there’s something for everyone in Latin American studies! Topics range from geography, anthropology, art, environment, and film to literature, politics, history, sports, and music.

6. It fills a gap left by high school history courses 

While most college students have a strong grasp of U.S. and European history, most high school curriculums neglect Latin America, a region rich with its own collection of victories, struggles, and traditions.

7. It explores hot topics through a new cultural lens 

Race, class, and gender relations – topics of particular interest to millennials – take their place at the heart of Latin American studies. This course arms you with the knowledge needed to solve the world’s problems by helping you understand their origins and evolution.

Even more exciting is exploring how common issues play out in other cultures. Although the United States carries the title of “melting pot,” Latin America’s diversity challenges the taco-eating, mariachi-playing stereotypes. As a student in LAS 208 you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in at least two new cultural experiences, about which you’ll write a reflection to draw connections between what you learned in class and what you learned around campus.

8. You’ll have a better understanding of modern global politics 

In an increasingly globalized world, understanding the complex histories and cultures of Latin American countries proves essential to navigating politics, especially when discussing topics such as war, economics, or race.

9. You’ll be inspired to study abroad 

Without a doubt, studying the 21 Latin American countries will have you itching to get out of Oxford and experience the cultures for yourself! Luckily, Miami University boasts one of the best study abroad programs around, with destinations in 90 countries.

10. The tests are formatted to show what you know- not what you don’t

Even champions of multiple choice tests must admit the frustration that arises when you can eliminate all the answers until you narrow it down to the final two, but then feel stuck. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way to show that you at least knew enough to start the process of elimination? Well there is – the short essay – and the professor structures both the midterm and final in this way to allow students to demonstrate their comprehension of class readings. After receiving a list of topics from the professor ahead of time, brainstorming will make you prepared for any essay question that comes your way.

11. The professor brings passion and first-hand experience

Well-versed and always ready to spark conversation, Professor Ingwersen has even lived in Mexico and speaks Spanish, adding a sense of authenticity to the class.

Whether you’re a Spanish major wanting to get a better feel for the cultures behind the language or you simply want a refreshing change from the standard history courses, LAS 208 makes a great addition to your schedule.


Samantha Marotta

Professional Writing and Spanish double-major at Miami University

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