The Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) is the center for research, teaching and discussion on Latin America at Columbia University. Its main goal is to bring together and provide resources for Columbia faculty, students and visiting scholars, recognizing the diversity of their interests and approaches while strengthening their links with Latin America and with communities of Latin American origin in the United States.
ILAS serves as a portal for scholars and institutions, inside and outside Columbia, to identify and establish productive exchanges with the different academic units of the University. The Institute is housed in the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), one of the major policy institutions in the world. ILAS also depends on strong bridges with other schools and research centers within Columbia: the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Teacher's College, Barnard College, the Earth Institute, and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, among others.
The Institute distributes resources to support Latin American research and teaching at Columbia. Named by the Department of Education as a National Resource Center for Latin American Studies, ILAS is part of the New York City Consortium on Latin America along with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University (CLACS). With financial assistance from the Tinker Foundation, the Leitner Family Foundation, and the Consejo Nacional para la Ciencia y la Tecnología, Mexico, ILAS is able to award various fellowships and grants to faculty and graduate and undergraduate students to further their research and as such enrich the academic community. The Institute also benefits from its associations with the financial, diplomatic and corporate centers of New York City, and with other research universities in the area.
ILAS provides the venue for a variety of public events featuring distinguished speakers, research reports, seminars, conferences and a lunchtime lecture series. It assists graduate students in the social sciences to develop a program of study from the wide range of Latin American courses available throughout the university. ILAS also offers a Certificate in Latin American Studies to M.A. and Ph.D. students. Beginning in the 2009-2010 academic year, ILAS will host a new M.A. program in Latin American Studies.
Since its foundation in 1962, ILAS has supported scholarship and professional achievement in the field of Latin American Studies. Columbia professor Frank Tannenbaum, the first director of the Institute and one of the preeminent Latin Americanists in the United States since the 1930s, saw the Institute as a response to the need for knowledge about an area of central importance to U.S. foreign policy. Latin American area studies have since then developed as one of the strongest fields in American social sciences and humanities, and as a space of collaboration for scholars from all over the world. The interactions between Latin America and the United States now extend beyond diplomatic relations into culture, commerce, finance and immigration. The expertise of the Latin American faculty at Columbia University and the curiosity of its students reflect this growth and diversification. ILAS seeks to facilitate the institutional and scholarly linkages that will maintain Columbia's leadership in the field.