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Mission and History

Arcade on the Quad

Arcade on the Quad with student walking a bike.

From Sallie Images

Who we are

The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) at Stanford University is a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center for Latin America committed to outreach to the scholarly community in California and the United States. CLAS is an academic community that supports research and teaching in all fields of study as they relate to Latin America and the Caribbean.

CLAS' origins back to the 1940s when a group of Stanford faculty developed the Hispano-American Studies Program. By fall of 1965, the University established the Center for Latin American Studies and it has been operating since then.

Mission and Vision

CLAS' mission is to foster an academic community that serves as a multidisciplinary platform to enable learning from and engaging with the Americas, understood as the diverse ethnic, linguistic, cultural, biological and historical geography shared with the United States and Canada.

CLAS is committed to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence in behalf of humanity and civilization” (Stanford University founding grant) and to advance scientific knowledge that strengthens social, economic and environmental justice, sustainability, inclusion and democracy in our hemisphere.

What we do

The Stanford Center for Latin American Studies draws on the strengths of faculty and students in Stanford University’s seven schools to promote scholarship and teaching that contributes to solving the great challenges of our region. The Center's academic programs encourage multidisciplinary approaches and draws on the expertise of active affiliated faculty members representing Stanford's various schools and departments. CLAS offers two degree programs: an Undergraduate Minor and a Master of Arts degree.

CLAS engages with and listens to Latin American and Caribbean voices, studying the natural, cultural and social environment, the richness of the hemisphere’s past experience, the vitality of its contemporary affairs, and the brilliant imagination of its creative thinkers. Every year the Center hosts a number of Tinker Visiting Professors, as well as other highly distinguished Latin American and Iberian scholars.

CLAS supports research and teaching on Latin America in all fields of study and collaborates with Stanford University Libraries to continue strengthening its substantial Latin American and Iberian collections, which are valuable resources for students, faculty, and visiting researchers alike.

As a Latin America National Resource Center (NRC), supported by the U.S. Department of Education under the auspices of Title VI, Section 602(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, CLAS serves to strengthen access to and training in the major languages of Latin America, and to broaden Latin-America area studies training across all disciplines.