Feb 27 2014

Director’s Corner: Edward F. Fischer

Published by chelsea at 8:34 pm under Spring 2014 Newsletter

Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt has never been as strong. We have remarkable faculty and students working on projects in every school and college on campus. There are so many, most of us are probably only aware of a fraction. Mike Newton at Vanderbilt Law School (and his students) are advising the Peruvian Supreme Court on judicial reform; working with Pelayo Correa and Doug Morgan in the medical school, we are the world center for the study of the particular sort of infectious stomach cancers found in Latin America; and that is just the tip of the iceberg. In Spanish and Portuguese, history and political science, anthropology and sociology—some of the best cutting-edge research on the region comes from Vanderbilt faculty.

Our role in the Center for Latin American Studies is to encourage and facilitate that work, when possible, and to support students studying the region. But more important is our role as a matchmaker and as a hub to share our work and make new connections between fields of study. This semester we will continue our experiment with 45-minute, talk show-style panels of professors from different fields. We are also working with LAPOP to make their incredible treasure trove of data more accessible to scholars in other fields on campus.

We have an equally important mandate off-campus: to disseminate knowledge about the region to our political leaders, business community, and to K–12 schools and other colleges and universities. This semester, in honor of Black History Month, we will offer a Teacher Workshop with MTSU and TSU on intersections of black and Latin America, are working with Belmont University to organize outreach events around a visit by Oscar Arias, and continue our digitization of curricular materials for teachers. The library’s program of digitizing our singular collections of Colombiana also support this outreach.

This semester we will also be writing and submitting a proposal for NRC funding for 2014–2018. By the Department of Education’s criteria, we are as strong as any of our peer institutions. At the same time, funding is still uncertain, and one never knows about the vagaries of the deciding committees. We will do our best to represent your many accomplishments in the proposal. Wish us well.

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