History of El Instituto

On July 1, 2012 the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences inaugurated El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies, through a merger of the former Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS, established in 1974) and the former Institute of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies (IPRLS, established in 1994). El Instituto is a multidisciplinary research and teaching institute that stands in service of the information needs of Latina/o people in Connecticut and nationwide as well as advancing scholarship, creative endeavors and undergraduate and graduate instruction and academic advising across multiple disciplines in the fields of Latina/o and Latin American studies. By merging Latina/o and Latin American studies, El Instituto supports the development of hemispheric perspectives on issues of core relevance to both critical ethnic studies and world area studies: coloniality, race, migration, education, media, human development, health, visual and literary culture and human rights.

From CLACS, El Instituto inherited BA and MA degree programs, which were reorganized soon after the merger to incorporate Latina/o studies within coherent plans of study. El Instituto sustains an undergraduate major in Latina/o and Latin American Studies, and supports two distinct minors in Latina/o Studies and Latin American Studies. El Instituto also has a thriving two-year International Studies M.A. with a concentration in Latina/o and Latin American Studies.

From IPRLS, El Instituto inherited a two-tiered faculty appointment structure, which unites over 90 affiliate faculty, who hold appointments in other departments across much of the University, with a smaller group of jointly-appointed core faculty, who are the institute’s main teaching and governance unit. El Instituto has also taken on IPRLS’ commitment to politically engaged scholarship in service of Latina/o communities. Our teaching and scholarship converge around the public intellectual mission of amplifying Latina/o, Latin American and Caribbean voices at UConn as well as in wider state, national and hemispheric contexts.

History of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Connecticut was the first area studies program at the University of Connecticut. CLACS was formally founded in 1974, the culmination of efforts begun in the late 1940s by two noted Latin Americanists, Nathan Whetten (Rural Sociology) and Robert G. Mead, Jr. (Spanish). Professor Hugh Hamill (History) led the formal establishment of the Center for Latin American Studies, and fostered the development of the B.A. and M.A. degree programs at UConn. Under his leadership, the Center initiated a pattern of resource sharing and collaboration with Latin American Studies programs at other institutions in southern New England that continues to this day. In 1984, the Center added Caribbean to its formal name, the better to reflect the actual scope of its academic programs and faculty expertise.

History of the Institute of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies (IPRLS)

The Institute of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies (IPRLS) was a multipurpose interdisciplinary research and teaching program with a comparative focus on the Puerto Rican, Mexican, and other Latin American origin populations in Connecticut, the northeast, and other regions of the continental United States, as well as in Puerto Rico.

Established in 1994, the Institute’s specific goals were: (1) to promote, sponsor, and promulgate the results of comparative, interdisciplinary research on Puerto Rican and other Latino peoples in the United States, emphasizing Connecticut and the northeastern region; (2) to develop and coordinate a multi- and inter- disciplinary academic program, including an undergraduate concentration (minor), as well as graduate courses, in the field of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies; (3) to promote a more culturally diverse and aware university environment through a colloquia and publications program addressing the diverse contributions of Puerto Ricans and other Latinos to U.S. history, society, and culture; (4) to provide institutional links among Puerto Ricans, other Latinos, and non-Latinos at this University and throughout the state of Connecticut on academic issues related to the Puerto Rican and Latino experience; (5) to produce, diffuse, and promote knowledge and information on public policy issues with special impacts on Puerto Ricans and Latinos; and (6) to foster ties between the University and the external Puerto Rican/Latino community by serving as a resource center for issues affecting that community.