Why Hispanic Studies?


Spanish and Portuguese are two of the most widely spoken languages in the world. There are 495 million native speakers of Spanish in the world and 210 million native speakers of Portuguese residing on five continents and in over 30 nations, including 52 million Latinos who reside in the US. Both languages have a growing presence in social media. Both Spanish and Portuguese are essential languages of commerce and trade, history, science, art, and diplomacy.

The department of Hispanic and Latin American Studies actively responds to the intellectual motivations of contemporary students in its language pedagogy and curricular offerings. First, we enable our students to develop a confident proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese that allows them to interact effectively with native speakers in the modes of speaking, listening, reading and writing. We compel them to examine a broad range of cultural expressions, historical patterns, and social issues to ensure that they will be conversant with matters pertinent to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking persons both in the US and abroad. Second, we strive to refine critical thinking. Our courses encourage students to confront a variety of literary, visual and cultural texts, and generate bold questions and interpretations informed by multidisciplinary critical perspectives. We believe that strong oratory skills and the development of argumentative writing ability in Spanish or Portuguese are fundamental to building the critical capacity valued by a liberal arts education. Third, we create a collaborative learning environment in which students work together, exchange ideas and benefit from their shared experience. Fourth, we encourage our students to be responsible, participatory members of a global society. With this objective in mind, we generate civic learning opportunities and sponsor internships for students who want to want to work with Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking communities in the US and abroad. Study away and the Casa Hispana student residence are integral components of our program. Study away in a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country is required for our majors and strongly recommended for our minors. The Casa Hispana supports our curriculum by creating a community living experience in Spanish and by providing a space for class meetings and cultural events throughout the academic year.

Career Orientation for Hispanic Studies Majors

A number of recent Hispanic Studies majors from Macalester College have pursued graduate work in Spanish language and literature, comparative literature, linguistics, Latin American area studies, international studies, international business, education, law, economics, and medicine. Some have entered careers in Spanish immersion elementary and secondary education, bilingual or special education, the U.S. Foreign Service, human rights organizations, and commerce. Others have begun their careers in the Peace Corps or VISTA. To enhance their career opportunities, many have combined their Hispanic Studies major with complementary majors such as biology, economics, political science, anthropology, or history.