Our History

Latino/a Studies has existed at Duke University since the 1990s, achieving official Program status in Fall 2008. A chronological timeline of significant events in our Program's creation and evolution follows:

FALL 1997

The Concilio Latino/Hispano/Americano, with approximately 60 faculty, student, and staff members, forms to foster a Latino intellectual community at Duke University and to develop a U.S. Latino agenda for the campus. The Concilio organizes its work around three themes that are addressed by separate subcommittees: research and academics; student and campus life; and community outreach. A main goal of the academic subcommittee and the Concilio as a whole is to establish a program in Latino Studies at Duke University.

WINTER 1999 – 2000

Students meet with Dean Robert Thompson and President Nan Keohane to request new course offerings in Latino Studies. From this meeting the idea of a certificate program in Latino Studies develops. In January 2000, Dean Thompson's office offers funds to develop a cluster of three courses in Latino Studies.


The first Latino Studies cluster course is taught. A committee of Duke faculty, students, and staff members submit a proposal for a certificate program in Latino Studies, with support requested for a director, a conference, faculty course development awards and administrative costs. The committee receives partial funding, which is used to support the development of three additional courses and program administration.

FALL 2001

The second Latino studies cluster course is taught. The certificate proposal is rejected due to an insufficient number of courses to support a certificate program. The committee decides to continue with efforts to build a program even though a certificate is not feasible at this time. A committee of faculty, staff, and students begin planning a two-day workshop on Latino issues.


The third Latino studies cluster course is taught and "The Color of Hegemony: Latinos/as in North Carolina and the U.S." conference is held at Duke. More than 120 people from Duke and the local community attend.


"Seeds of Change: Latino/a Citizenship(s) in the Here and Now" conference is held at Duke. More than 200 people registered from Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the local community.


A networking dinner hosted by Latino/a Studies at Duke and Duke Latino/a Graduate Student Association provides a space for the discussion and generation of ideas regarding the Latino/a community at Duke University and moves the community closer toward the formation of a campus-wide network for Latino/a issues.  

FALL 2004

A new "Latino/a Studies Initiative at Duke" is set forth for the academic year; included in the plans are a welcome reception and organizational meeting, several lecture discussions with invited speakers, two film and director events, and research support awards for undergraduates, graduates, and faculty members.


President Brodhead meets with representatives from Latino/a undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and alumni organizations to discuss issues such as student recruitment and retention, hiring of Latino/a faculty and administrators, creation of an institutional infrastructure for Latino/a Studies at Duke, assessment of Duke as an employer of Latino/a staff and employees, needs and offerings related to the local Latino/a population, and university-wide dialogue related to these topics. The group leaves President Brodhead with a joint request from Latino/a Studies and El Concilio Latino for a University-wide task force charged with drafting an Action Agenda for Latino/as and Latino/a Studies at Duke University.


Latino/a Studies and El Concilio Latino run a full-page notice in The Chronicle, thanking President Brodhead for support and requesting the appointment of a presidential task force with representation from our ranks to develop the agenda needed to ramp up the level of activity and visibility of Latino/a issues and studies at Duke. More than 160 individuals and organizations signed on to support this request.

FALL 2005

Latino/a Studies continues the Initiative begun in Fall 2004. The Initiative is the main host for five major speakers/events during the 2005–2006 academic year, co-sponsors nine additional events, and provides financial support to two graduate students and seven undergraduate students for research and conference attendance.


Latino/a Studies receives approval to hire a permanent Program Coordinator and to establish a new office for Latino/a Studies. While still partnering with Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Latino/a Studies office is set up separately in the John Hope Franklin Center for the 2006–2007 academic year. The staff and faculty develop and implement a program of activities, events, and research opportunities for the year, while also working toward the goal of creating a certificate in Latino/a Studies.

FALL 2007

Latino/a Studies acquires new, permanent space in the renovated Old Art Museum on East Campus (dedicated the Ernestine Friedl Building the following spring). Three offices are secured for the Director, Program Coordinator, and to begin a Latino/a Studies Resource Room. The final work to submit the proposal for an undergraduate certificate is completed.


The University approves the undergraduate Certificate, "Latino/a Studies in the Global South." Plans are made to offer the Introductory course the following academic year. A proposal for "Program" status, with five-year plans, is submitted to the University. A site visit is run for the newly proposed DukeEngage program, "Encuentros de la Frontera" and the first seven students participate in the border program focusing on migration during the summer.

Fall 2008

"Program" status is approved by the University. Just one year after acquiring space for the Latino/a Studies Resource Room, it is now used frequently by students, faculty and staff, and houses a significant collection of useful journals, encyclopedias, texts, and novels. The walls display beautiful works by local and national Latino/a painters, photographers, and silk screen artists.


The first "Introduction to Latino/a Studies in the Global South" is successfully offered during this semester. After a year's coordination, the work of Chicano/Latino artist Malaquias Montoya is exhibited in the brand new Fredric Jameson gallery in our building. In other art-related news, actor, director, comedian, and art collector Cheech Marin donates a stunning portfolio of Chicano art to Latino/a Studies. A new postdoctoral associate position in Latino/a Studies is approved by the University and advertised. The DukeEngage program on the AZ/Mexico border accepts 8 Duke students to study issues of immigration and human rights for the summer.

FALL 2009 – SPRING 2010

Prof. Monika Gosin joins the Program as the first postdoctoral associate. She teaches "Latino Hip Hop: Representation and Resistance" in the Spring semester and helps coordinate a full-day workshop on the topic. The Introductory course for the Certificate is taught for the second time in Spring 2010. In May, our first student graduates with the Certificate in Latino/a Studies in the Global South. The DukeEngage program runs on the US/Mexico Border for it's third summer during 2010.

FALL 2010 – SPRING 2011

The Intro course for the Certificate is taught for the third time, by Prof. Monika Gosin, her postdoctoral appointment having been extended for an additional year. The capstone course is offered for the first time in Spring 2011 by the Program's Faculty Director, Prof. Antonio Viego. A second student, and the first to go through the full Certificate program and capstone course, graduates in May. The DukeEngage program on the US/Mexico Border runs for a fourth summer, headed by BorderLinks and advised by Duke Latino/a Studies faculty and staff.

FALL 2011 – SPRING 2012

Both the introductory and capstone course are taught this year, as we enter a regular cycle of teaching. The Program continues presenting large and small events, with collaborations across the University. Now in our fourth year, we have the first group of students to have had the certificate in place all four of their college years, and we graduate four students with the certificate in May. The DukeEngage program on the US/Mexico border runs successfully for the fifth summer. The Program also receives Arts & Sciences approval following several months review of all the Program's dimensions.  

FALL 2012 – SPRING 2013

The introductory course is taught by Prof. Claudia Milian in the fall. Officially, the Program graduates three students in May 2013 with the Certificate, and has an additional 10 students enrolled. The number of students taking Latino/a Studies-content courses, however, is much greater, with 17 cross-listed classes offered this academic year and an additional five soft-crosses, with significant Latino/a Studies content. Outside of regular programming that includes seven events with outside scholars and five events featuring faculty and students from our own campus, we utilize three large-scale exhibits to educate hundreds of students, faculty, administrators, staff, and community members. A six-week exhibit on Days of the Dead connects several fall events and discussions, while a look at "American Dreams" highlights the work of a local mural artist, and a MFA student's work with undocumented youth carries us into Fall 2013. The DukeEngage program on the US/Mexico Border attracts a wide range of students once again, with cumulative participation now at 50 students.