This course offers a multidisciplinary introduction to the study of Latin America, a region of great diversities of people, institutions, and geography, yet sharing common historical, cultural, social, political and economic developmental patterns. It concentrates on major contemporary issues in Latin America such as the impact of globalization, the environment, the indigenous population, enduring poverty and income inequality, the challenges of democracy and economic development, class, gender, race and ethnicity, popular and urban culture, inter-American affairs and the related issues of immigration and drug trafficking. The course features many guest lectures by Rutgers faculty from different departments affiliated with the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS). This is a unique opportunity for students to learn about the region from a variety of fields and perspectives and to become familiar with the various areas of expertise of Rutgers faculty who do research in and teach on Latin America.

This course is required for all major and minors in Latin American Studies and satisfies SAS Core Curriculum goals:

  • 21st Century Challenges A: analyze the degree to which forms of human difference shape a person’s experiences of and perspectives on the world.
  • Historical Analysis H, K: understand the bases and development of human and societal endeavors across time and place; explain the development of some aspect of a society or culture over time, including the history of ideas or history of science.
  • Social analysis M, N: understand different theories about human culture, social identity, economic entities, political systems, and other forms of social organization; apply concepts about human and social behavior to particular questions or situations.

Course Learning Goals:

Upon completion of the course, students will demonstrate:

  • knowledge of major issues and concepts, relevant background, and the deep social, economic, cultural, and political transformations occurring in the region;
  • an understanding of the increasingly important role of contemporary Latin America in world politics and in the world economy;
  • an appreciation of the nature of the interdependent world we live in and that events in Latin America do have an impact on the U.S.;
  • the ability to recognize and challenge stereotypes and myths about Latin American culture and Latin American people.

Texbooks: readings in PDF format on course Sakai site.


Class Grade: 15%

(daily attendance and participation)

2 Exams: 50%

(exams consist of multiple choice questions and short essays; the second exam covers material from the last half of the course)

4 Questionnaires: 20%

(in-group work consisting of answering 10 questions in each questionnaire related to readings, lectures, discussions, and films, potentially appearing on the exams)

Presentation: 15%

(in-group work; students choose a topic discussed in the course, in consultation with the instructor, for further research and presentation to the class at the end of the semester)

Grading Scale: A=90+; B+=87-89; B=80-86; C+=77-79; C=70-76; D=60-69; F=59-

Contact Geisa M. Rocha, Ph.D. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you have questions about the course.