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Sunday, September 25, 2022

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SDSU’s Center for Latin American Studies Receives Partnership Grant

The Center for Latin American Studies was awarded a grant from the Tinker Foundation to support field research for graduate students.
By Leslie L.J. Reilly

“We are deeply proud of this award, which reflects SDSU's commitment to world-class teaching and research that results in significant contributions to Latin American communities.”

San Diego State University’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) was selected to receive a Tinker Foundation grant to fund graduate student field research study in Latin America. The College of Arts and Letters will provide matching funding for the five-year grant.

SDSU was among 31 universities to apply for the Tinker grant; 11 universities were selected to join the inaugural Tinker Field Research Collaborative with four other centers invited as affiliates.

Through annual grantmaking of approximately $4 million, the Tinker Foundation supports work in the areas of democratic governance, education, and sustainable resource management. With 40 years of experience in funding field research in Latin America, Tinker launched the collaborative to connect centers across the U.S. to enhance the impact of the student field research experience.

“We are deeply proud of this award, which reflects SDSU's commitment to world-class teaching and research that results in significant contributions to Latin American communities,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “As a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), SDSU prides itself in preparing students with the diverse perspectives that will enable them to make an impact as global citizens who transform their community, the transborder region, and the world at large.”

SDSU’s Center for Latin American Studies trains the future Latin Americanists of the region, provides knowledge on the historical and contemporary issues of Latin America to the region’s public, and fosters open debate and discussion on U.S./Latin American policies.

“The center’s mission grounds our programs and defines our relationships to the larger community: the CLAS at San Diego State University strives to produce both traditional disciplinary knowledge and learn from indigenous knowledge systems through engagement with the cultures, histories, politics, geography, arts, economies, and languages of Latin America,” said Ramona Pérez, professor of anthropology and CLAS director.

The grant helps fund relationship-building between the U.S. and Latin American individuals and institutions, providing a commitment to equity and inclusion. Currently 54 graduate students are pursuing degrees in areas such as geography, global health, bilingual education and public policy, along with joint M.A./MBA, MPH, and MPA programs. Additionally there are graduate students in the exchange program with El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) in Tijuana.

Point of origin

“The Tinker grant is unique in that it allows students to explore their research topics at the point of origin for many of our migrant communities and by developing a comparative perspective between processes and practices in Latin America with those of the U.S.,” Pérez said. “This placement of students within professional fields directly influences the public’s understanding of Latin America and the overall effect of U.S. policies on the region. Whether advancing from an M.A. to a doctoral program or working at public or private institutions within their fields, our graduate students excel.”

Awarded a Tinker Grant two consecutive years during her master’s in public health and master’s degree in Latin American studies, alumna Noelle Simpson-Koon said, “The Tinker Grant allowed me to pursue field research in Oaxaca, Mexico — without it, I would not have been able to travel to Oaxaca for two summers and spend six weeks with the local community of coastal Oaxaca, learning about inclusion and disability. I was not working during my graduate program so Tinker gave me funding to be more creative and open minded in my research pursuits.”