The Center for Latin American Studies was originally founded as the Georgetown University Latin American Studies Program in 1959 by Dr. William Manger, a distinguished specialist in inter-American affairs and former Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States. The Latin American Studies Program was one of the first academic programs in the United States to encourage inter-disciplinary study of the region.
In 1985, Georgetown University designated the Latin American Studies Program as one of its graduate programs targeted for excellence. In the University's effort to reflect the growing importance of teaching, research, and outreach activities the Latin American Studies Program was transformed into the Center for Latin America Studies (CLAS) and placed within the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 1990. Today, CLAS is one of the leading Latin American academic programs in the country. The Center has a particular emphasis in the issues of democratic governance, economic integration, inter-American affairs, and culture and society.
The mission of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University is to produce quality scholarship and research on Latin America and to provide excellent, multi-disciplinary education to future Latin Americanists.
This fundamental mission is supported by the following main objectives, which describe the overall goals of the Center:
- Educate new generations of Latin Americanists who will graduate with an appreciation of the complexities and opportunities of Latin America today;
- Sponsor high-quality research and in-depth analysis of political, economic, social, and cultural trends throughout the Americas;
- Build a comprehensive local outreach movement to foster interest in Latin America among primary and secondary school children and teachers, as well as the general public;
- Create a space for discourse and debate among Latin American political, social, and cultural leaders by hosting a variety of lectures, addresses, exhibits, and conferences.