Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Program Type: Cluster

The Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) Cluster draws on the expertise of more that two dozen Northwestern faculty members from different disciplines who have shared interests in this region. Building on this strong faculty base and on growing ties to the region, the LACS cluster aims to help graduate students to think of familiar questions in unfamiliar ways, as well as to pose new ones, that will foster excellence and innovation within the traditional disciplines, as well as provide students with a much deeper understanding of the region than they might otherwise achieve.

The LACS cluster is one of the first initiatives in the country to offer a formal structure for interdisciplinary training in Latin American and Caribbean studies.  The cluster also provides a much needed intellectual community for participating students, as the number of students in each department who are interested in the region is relatively small. The LACS cluster does this in three specific ways.  First, it is built around a core curriculum consisting of courses taught in any one of three core areas of inquiry, chosen because of their enduring importance. Second, the cluster runs an ongoing faculty and graduate colloquium in which students at all levels of the program present their works in progress. And third, the cluster seeks to strengthen formal ties between Northwestern and partner institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to promote graduate and faculty research and exchange.

See LACS Cluster Requirements for specific courses and procedures needed to complete this program.


All LACS Cluster students are assigned an advisor from the Cluster's core faculty. Students construct their program in consultation with this advisor.  It is suggested that students include a program faculty member from outside his or her home department on their dissertation defense committee.

Programs and Events

There are numerous different ways for faculty and students to participate in the intellectual life of the cluster. Many cluster events, such as visiting lecturers, conferences, and film screenings are open to all members of the University. Cluster seminars are open to graduate students across the University. We encourage all students, faculty and staff of Northwestern to learn more about our research and activities by participating in our public events.

Who Should Apply?

Doctoral candidates from any field are eligible to apply to join this intellectual “home” outside their department. Past participants have come from the following programs:

  • Art History
  • Communication Studies
  • Comparative Literary Studies
  • History
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Religion
  • Sociology
  • Spanish and Portuguese
  • Theatre and Drama

How to Apply

Prospective students interested in participating in this cluster should indicate their interest when they apply to their respective graduate programs. This cohort will include incoming and current students who wish to participate in program activities.

Current graduate students interested in participating in this cluster should contact Professor Paul Ramirez at

Who to Contact

Please contact the program director, listed below, with questions about this program. Or, explore the LACS website for more information.

Paul Ramirez
Associate Professor, History