With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, faculty at Mercy College embarked upon The Latino and Latin American Studies Project. The initiative laid the groundwork for an interdisciplinary minor by bringing artists, scholars, musicians, filmmakers, and art historians to campus and encouraging faculty to collaborate on new courses. As a designated Hispanic Serving Institution, Mercy College’s student population is nearly one-third Latino and many students of all backgrounds go on to serve Latino populations in their careers. For these students, the opportunity to learn more about Latino populations and Latin America was an opportunity to reflect on their own cultural heritage, learn more about that of others, and prepare for the workforce.
The college now offers a wide range of courses in the Latino and Latin American Studies curriculum, including classes on Latin American politics and international relations and a team-taught course on the immigrant experience that employs sociological and psychological modes of inquiry. Students from all over the university take these courses—in a recent Latino literature course, traditional humanities majors were outnumbered by students from other fields, including veterinary technology, business, psychology, and sociology.
In addition to these interdisciplinary courses, faculty have developed programs designed to provide new opportunities for Mercy College’s many students, including first-generation and nontraditional students. New Spanish courses, among them Spanish for medical professionals and Spanish for law enforcement, make language courses more directly applicable to work outside of school. And global experience courses, which include two weeks of fieldwork in locations like Costa Rica and Argentina, provide international opportunities for students for whom traditional study abroad experiences are inaccessible.