Cal State San Bernardino introduced this spring semester Latin American Studies (LAS) 2000, a unique course that draws on the expertise of five different faculty members from across campus.

LAS 2000 is CSUSB’s first-ever introductory and interdisciplinary course on the study of Latin America. Students explore themes relevant to Latin America, such as community, identity, literature, inequality, power, place, as well as Latinx experiences with migration and transnationalism.

“I am amazed by the number of students who have enrolled because they want to reconnect with their heritage,” said Teresa Velásquez, associate professor of anthropology, who is teaching the course. “Students have roots in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia among other Latin American countries. This course provides a way for students to relate their ethnic identity to their academic interests.”

LAS 2000 is a foundational course for the Latin American Studies minor, which provides students with the opportunity to explore a wide range of subjects relating to the Western Hemisphere through an interdisciplinary curriculum that draws from the College of Arts and Letters, Business and Public Administration, Education, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Natural Sciences.

“We are fortunate to have such a diverse and vibrant student body at CSUSB, and this course speaks to those students with roots in Latin America as well as those who are learning about Latin America for the first time,” Velasquez said.

LAS 2000 was established as part of the transformation of the minor program’s curriculum during the quarter-to-semester transition and was made possible by the Q2S Enhancing Pedagogy Stipend. With the assistance of Academic Technology and Innovation (ATI), a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) for online best practices was established. The FLC, which was led by Velásquez, began meeting in fall 2019 and finalized the course in the summer of 2020.

FLC participants were Bibiana Diaz, associate professor of world languages and literatures and director of the Faculty Center for Excellence; Esteban Cordoba, assistant professor of world languages and literatures; Mike Kohout, professor of geography; Jose Muñoz, professor of sociology; and Velásquez.

Each faculty member developed multiple online learning modules in their area of expertise to collectively build an exciting interdisciplinary approach to the study of Latin America. An estimated 358 hours was contributed to the development of the course content and design.

The FLC worked closely with Tracy Medrano, Instructional Designer and Certified CSU Quality Learning and Teaching Facilitator and Course Reviewer. The FLC incorporated best online teaching practices, and plans to send this course for review to obtain CSU Quality Learning & Teaching Certification.

“It was a truly collaborative effort that has resulted in a course that is greater than the sum of its parts,” Velásquez said. “This is our first and only LAS course, and we hope to develop more in the future.”

To learn more about CSUSB’s Latin American Studies minor, visit the Latin American Studies webpage.