David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

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Founded in 1994, Harvard's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) works to increase knowledge of the cultures, economies, histories, environment, and contemporary affairs of past and present Latin America. The Center's main office is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Harvard University. DRCLAS also has offices in Brazil and Chile.

Mission[edit]

• To expand research and teaching on Latin America and related fields at Harvard University

• To strengthen ties between Harvard and institutions throughout Latin America

• To enhance public understanding of Latin America in the United States and abroad

Overview[edit]

The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies is one of 11 inter-faculty initiatives at Harvard overseen by the Office of the University Provost, with an administrative home in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Center's structure reflects its inter-disciplinary mandate: The Executive Committee comprises eight senior faculty members from throughout the University. A separate Policy Committee, helps to direct the Center's development.

While the Center is not a teaching unit of the University, it contributes to the Harvard's teaching mission. The Center supports faculty-directed research projects and academic conferences. It funds students who want to learn more about Latin America through research, work, study, or volunteering in the region. The Center also provides funding to underwrite course-based field trips to Latin America and to develop new courses with Latin American content.

DRCLAS was founded in 1994 as an initiative to promote high-quality teaching and research on Latin America and related fields at Harvard University. Neil L. Rudenstine, then University President, and David Rockefeller B.S. '36, LL.D. '69 (honorary) shared a sense that Harvard should be intellectually poised to respond to real-world changes in the Americas resulting from democratic transitions and economic restructuring.

Harvard was uniquely positioned to meet these challenges. While many U.S. universities had to downsize their Latin American studies programs in the 1990s, reducing numbers of faculty specialists and educating fewer students, Harvard benefited from President Rudenstine and David Rockefeller's shared hope to develop a center for Latin American studies to parallel Harvard's centers for European, Middle Eastern, Russian, and East Asian studies. They envisioned the Center as the academic cornerstone of a new relationship between the United States and the countries of Latin America, and as an influential example to other universities.

'The Center will be anchored in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, but is deliberately University-wide in its reach,' President Rudenstine said at the Center's 1994 inauguration. 'It will be a natural forum for the discussion of public policy, of the arts, and of the ways in which Latin America is related to Iberia and the rest of Europe, the Pacific Rim, and, of course, our own country.'

Since its founding, the Center has overseen the creation of six endowed professorships at Harvard dedicated to the study of Latin America. The Center's Robert F. Kennedy Visiting Professorship program and the Visiting Scholars and Fellows Program, have enabled the Center to draw leading scholars from Latin America to spend time at Harvard. The Center has become known among faculty members and students as one of the most enterprising and creative of all Harvard's University-wide initiatives, providing extensive support for innovative research from faculty and students.

DRCLAS has played a critical role in establishing Harvard as a leading United States institution for Latin American studies. In 2000, the U.S. Department of Education recognized Harvard as a National Resource Center for the Study of Latin America by awarding the Center a Title VI grant - an honor it repeated twice: in 2003 and 2006.

The international profile of Harvard as one of the world's premier universities, moreover, allows the Center to help focus the attention of academics, policymakers, journalists, and business leaders on the most compelling issues facing Latin America today. The Center coordinates the University's relationships with over 60 institutional partners and hundreds of individuals throughout Latin America.

In August 2002, the University established a Regional Office in Santiago, Chile. The office provides support to Harvard faculty and students in the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, as well as the southern Andean republics of Bolivia and Peru.

In May 2006, the Center launched a Brazil Studies Program, followed in July 2006 by the opening of the Brazil Office in São Paulo, Brazil in June 2006. The joint efforts of Harvard University faculty members and students from diverse disciplines, and support from Jorge Paulo Lemann, enable the Brazil Studies Program to convene experts from the United States and abroad to expand and diversify research and teaching on Brazil at the University.

The United States Department of Education again named the Center a "Title VI" National Resource Center (NRC) for Latin American Studies in 2006, the Center's third NRC award, earning DRCLAS broad recognition as a leader in promoting Latin American studies within higher education.

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