Department of Education grant prioritizes Latin American studies

Posted by
On January 30, 2017.

S&T students work with locals on a water well in Guatemala.

S&T students work with locals on a water well in Guatemala.

S&T students pose on a volcano in Guatemala during a class trip.

S&T students pose on a volcano in Guatemala during a class trip.

Missouri S&T students soon will have even more incentive to study abroad in Central and South America.

A team of S&T faculty has received a $93,229 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help fund a new minor in Latin American studies.

The minor will be available to all students and will require them to complete a study abroad experience related to their major in a Latin American country. Students will also be expected to develop intermediate proficiency in Spanish.

S&T regularly sends students and faculty to Latin American countries, including Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, for study abroad trips and service projects. While these trips tend to attract mostly engineering and science majors, students from other majors also participate. This new minor will give students a chance to take courses more closely related to their majors, as well as specialized courses in Spanish and Latin American studies. It will also satisfy humanities and social science requirements for engineering and science students.

Dr. Audra Merfeld-Langston, chair of arts, languages and philosophy and associate professor of French, is leading the team developing the minor.

“One of the great features of this minor is that it’s interdisciplinary across both colleges,” she says. “The courses that make up this minor will provide context for understanding cultural differences and various approaches to contemporary issues and technological challenges, and completion of the minor will grant students official recognition of their specialized knowledge of and experience in Latin America.”

S&T students work with locals on a water well in Guatemala.

S&T students work with locals on a water well in Guatemala.

The team also includes Drs. Kathleen Sheppard, assistant professor of history and political science; Joe Guggenberger, assistant professor of geological engineering; Jorge Porcel, associate professor of Spanish; and Curt Elmore, professor emeritus of geological engineering.

Merfeld-Langston says the team has already launched an incentive award program for faculty to submit proposals to develop new courses or redesign existing courses that can be integrated into the minor.

The team is organizing visits with faculty at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in La Paz, Bolivia, and the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería in Managua, Nicaragua.

Faculty and students from S&T will visit Bolivia over spring break, and Nicaragua in July and August. Faculty from the Universidad Mayor de San Andres and the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería will visit S&T in the next year.

 

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