Latin American studies major approved; Portuguese to be taught starting fall ’08

A proposal to create a new Latin American studies major was approved at a faculty meeting earlier this week, and plans to bring Portuguese classes to Tufts are now one step closer to fruition.

Late last month, the Daily reported on both of these initiatives, which have since gained momentum.

On Wednesday, the proposal for the Latin American studies major received unanimous support at a faculty meeting, according to Jos?© Antonio Mazzotti, the chair of the Romance languages department.

Prior to that, Latin American studies was only offered as a minor, and while the plan to create a major had been pre-approved by a curriculum committee earlier this year, it still needed the support of the full faculty.

To fulfill the major, students need to take 11 classes and complete a five-semester language requirement.

Of the 11 classes, at least one must come from an approved course in each of seven areas, including anthropology and art history or culture. An integrated capstone experience, in which seniors can either take a seminar, write a thesis or complete a project, is also required.

Mazzotti told the Daily in an e-mail that, as a result of the recent decision by the faculty, students can declare Latin American studies as their major “right away.”

The creation of the major resulted from a desire to offer students more opportunities for in-depth study than the minor currently allows for, and was made possible by the addition of several regional specialists to the faculty over the past six to seven years, according to the proposal for the creation of the major.

While students planning on majoring in Latin American studies have several choices for most of their requirements, currently the only regional language offered is Spanish.

But classes in Portuguese appear to be on the horizon. Recently, Mazzotti received the go ahead from the Arts and Sciences Steering Committee to put together a Portuguese program. Classes will be offered starting in the fall of 2008.

Although requests were made in the past to add Portuguese classes, budgetary constraints prevented the development of a program.

Mazzotti said that while budgetary concerns are no longer a problem, it is still wise to wait a year before offering the classes. “It is a little late to start a search for an instructor and change the catalogue for next fall,” he said. “I think it is better to wait until 2008 so we can publicize the program more adequately.”

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