New Latinx Studies Program Begins at OU
The University of Oklahoma’s newest program is Latinx Studies, an interdisciplinary course of studies in literature, politics, history, culture, and society. The program is the first of its kind in the state of Oklahoma and features both a major and a minor option.
The program, which is located in the College of Arts and Sciences, was born from a student initiative focused on better serving Latino students on OU’s campus. The fall 2017 semester marks the first time the major has been offered, while the minor became available in spring 2017. Some courses included in the curriculum focus on the history of Hispanic America, literary or historical analysis, American literature, and immigration politics, among many other topics.
“This program brings together courses in Latinx culture, history, and society and reveals how Latinos and Latinas are currently helping to reshape the American experience,” said Robert Con Davis-Undiano, the director of OU’s Latinx Studies Program. “Latinx Studies is a rich perspective and a guide for a critical understanding of current cultural and social events.”
Davis-Undiano said OU is dedicated to its students, and the university wants Latino students to come and sink their roots more deeply.
“There’s a cultural transformation that we’re trying to encourage on campus,” Robert Con Davis-Undiano said. “OU really wants to be your home. We’re not just talking about a few courses, we’re really talking about the culture embracing Latino students.”
In addition to the academic program itself, those involved with Latinx Studies are also focused on providing other resources and support to students. For example, a Latinx Faculty and Staff Coalition has also been created to give OU’s faculty and staff a greater sense of community, which in turn benefits students.
“We’re focusing on retention of Latino staff and faculty, crisis intervention, mentoring, social events, professional development,” Davis-Undiano explained. “You’ve got to do this because if students are going to be served well, the faculty and staff need to be on board, they need to be thinking about Latino culture and how they’re going to help Latino students, so that’s another really critical piece of all this.”
There is also a focus on the mentoring of Latino students. Davis-Undiano is currently in the process of working with the existing mentoring program at University College to retrofit it to serve a larger number of Latino students.
“In other words, you can’t just create a major and a minor,” Davis-Undiano stated. “You’ve really got to reorient the culture on campus, and so that’s what all of this is about.”
More information about the Latinx Studies program can be found here.