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Proposed changes to The LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES degree Program in the College of Liberal Arts SECTIOn in the Undergraduate Catalog 2014-2016


Dean Randy Diehl in the College of Liberal Arts has filed with the secretary of the Faculty Council the following changes to the College of Liberal Arts section in the Undergraduate Catalog, 2014-2016. The faculty of the college and the dean approved the changes on April 5 and May 23, 2013, respectively. The secretary has classified this proposal as legislation of exclusive application and of primary interest only to a single college or school.

The Committee on Undergraduate Degree Program Review recommended approval of the change on November 6, 2013, and forwarded the proposed changes to the Office of the General Faculty. The Faculty Council has the authority to approve this legislation on behalf of the General Faculty. The authority to grant final approval on this legislation resides with UT System.

If no objection is filed with the Office of the General Faculty by the date specified below, the legislation will be held to have been approved by the Faculty Council. If an objection is filed within the prescribed period, the legislation will be presented to the Faculty Council at its next meeting. The objection, with reasons, must be signed by a member of the Faculty Council.

To be counted, a protest must be received in the Office of the General Faculty by November 19, 2013.

Dean P. Neikirk

Dean P. Neikirk, Secretary
General Faculty and Faculty Council

Posted on the Faculty Council website on November 12, 2013.

Proposed changes to The LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES degree Program in the College of Liberal Arts SECTIOn in the Undergraduate Catalog 2014-2016

  Academic Change


• Is this a new degree program? No
• Does the program offer courses that will be taught off campus? No
• Will courses in this program be delivered electronically? No


Currently, the LAS major requires thirty-six hours with no minor. It is comprised of a fifteen-hour core that includes an introductory course on Latin America, a Latin American social science (chosen from cross-listed anthropology, economics, geography, or sociology courses), an upper-division Latin American government survey, an upper-division Latin American history covering the colonial period, and an upper-division Latin American history covering the post-colonial period. The second part of the major requires a twenty-one-hour concentration, generally in one field chosen from anthropology, art history, business, communication, economics, geography, government, history, sociology, Portuguese, or Spanish, with twelve of the hours upper-division and twelve with Latin American content. Students can also propose a special concentration, Brazilian Studies being most common, composed of courses chosen from any number of fields.

The changes proposed are the following:

  1. Eliminate the major concentration and move to a major (twenty-seven hours)/minor (twelve hours) structure, which increases the total number of hours required by three. Add a minor consisting of twelve semester hours, including at least six hours of upper-division coursework, in any one other field of study in the University. Six of the required twelve semester hours must be taken in residence. If the minor is in a foreign language other than that used to fulfill the foreign language requirement, the twelve semester hours may be lower-division, but must include at least six hours beyond course 507 or the equivalent.
  2. Broaden the LAS government requirement from GOV 328L to any LAS 337M, LAS government topic.
  3. Eliminate one upper-division LAS history course from the major and add a culture/fine arts/literature requirement to the major.
  4. Add nine hours of additional LAS course work to the major, six of the hours upper-division. The elimination of the concentration frees hours students can fill with a variety of LAS courses.
  5. Add a capstone research/writing flag course to the major.
  6. Eliminate content-related language in the major and change to course numbered requirements.

Latin American Studies is seeking to comply with the University’s goal of reducing time to graduation and eliminating course bottlenecks for students. It is also seeking to attract majors by increasing the flexibility of the requirements and by allowing a minor that provides students the freedom to explore a broader range of fields than the major concentration has allowed. What follows are specific rationales for the changes.

  1. The major concentration in LAS has long been problematic because in some of the fields students have selected, particularly business and economics (but not limited to them), Latin American content has been difficult, or impossible, to achieve due to the dearth of course offerings. Latin American content-related teaching has been subject to the vagaries of faculty departures, leaves, and pressures within departments related to course content. This unpredictability has often presented students with the sudden inability to complete their concentrations; forced students to delay graduation or choose a concentration less preferable to them; or even drop the major either in order to graduate in a timely manner or in favor of a more flexible course of study. The change to a major/minor structure reduces the dependence of the major on the offerings of any single department for a relatively large number of LAS-content courses. This is expected to reduce bottlenecks for majors and time to graduation. The change to a minor has the added benefit of allowing students to broaden their fields of study to areas previously unavailable owing to the lack of Latin American content.
  2. GOV 328L has been reliably taught for many years by a senior member of the Department of Government faculty. However, this faculty member is planning retirement, and it is unclear that the course will be taught as regularly in the future. In order to avoid a staffing problem, it is proposed that the requirement be broadened to include any government course with Latin American content (LAS 337M).
  3. The trend in academia has been toward more interdisciplinary study. In this vein, changes to the major would include the elimination of one LAS history and the addition of a culture/fine arts/literature component in order to correct the current over-emphasis in the major core on the social sciences, history, in particular, and take advantage of faculty strength in the arts and in Latin American literature. Students would be able to choose courses from one of several fields: Latin American art history, Latin American music, Brazilian civilization or literature, Spanish American civilization or literature, Latin American film, etc.
  4. The inclusion of nine additional (non-specific) hours of LAS coursework, made possible by the elimination of the concentration, is intended to allow students to explore disparate fields in Latin American studies and facilitate the possibility of further interdisciplinary coursework. The goal is to enhance the flexibility and therefore the appeal of the major. Students would have the freedom to choose from any number of Latin American-content courses offered by the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Communication, and the College of Fine Arts, for example. This change would also enhance timely graduation by allowing students to count more LAS-content courses toward the major.
  5. The trend at the University is to expose every student to the experience of doing research and writing. The addition of a capstone course is intended to ensure that all majors carry out original research and have access to a writing flag within the major. This course also complies with College of Liberal Arts guidelines, which require that all majors in the college must take at least one upper-division writing flag. The capstone course would also balance out the experience of the major and facilitate a sense of cohesion among majors by giving them another course, in addition to the introductory LAS 301, that they would take as a group as they approach graduation.
  6. The change from content-related descriptors to course numbered requirements is expected to facilitate study abroad. Study abroad is strongly encouraged by the University, the college, and Latin American Studies. When a student transfers work from a foreign institution, content-related coursework must be petitioned in order to place it in the major correctly. If a course is designated as LAS 366, for example, the LAS history designation, and the student requires that the course count in a history concentration, it must be petitioned for history content so the course can be programmed to count properly in the major. Using course numbers to define requirements would facilitate posting of courses to student records, allowing previously evaluated courses to count immediately toward the major, and reducing the need for petitions. This is expected to encourage study abroad and reduce time to graduation.

Minimal changes to the course inventory will be required. A new topics course for lower division social sciences other than LAS 319 will be added, as will a number for the capstone course (LAS 378). Also, a topic number for additional fine arts courses not accounted for by Spanish and Portuguese literature and civilization courses taught in those languages will be added; it will also include other types of fine arts courses, such as Latin American film.


Does this proposal impact other colleges/schools? If yes, then how?
If yes, impacted schools must be contacted and their response(s) included:

Will students in other degree programs be impacted (are the proposed changes to courses commonly taken by students in other colleges)?

If yes, explain:

Will students from your college take courses in other colleges?
If yes, explain:

Does this proposal involve changes to the core curriculum or other basic education requirements (42-hour core, signature courses, flags)?
If yes, explain:

Will this proposal change the number of required hours for degree completion?
If yes, explain:


Date: September 28, 2012
Date: April 5, 2013
Date: May 23, 2013

To view the edited version of the catalog changes click the PDF link at the beginning of this document.