Central Americans are one of the fastest-growing ethnic and transborder groups in the United States. Having intimate knowledge and access to this complex and diverse community gives students vast opportunities to work in a variety of fields, as well as making students with a B.A. in Central American Studies attractive for future employers. It gives students hands-on experience in the community and provides them with practical credentials and professional training to thrive in a dynamically changing world.
A bachelor’s degree in Central American Studies presents an opportunity to explore, critically examine and understand the diversity of human interests, and it develops a network of Central American specialists. The degree offers knowledge that enhances local, regional and transborder experiences, which include politics, nonprofit organizing, education, social counseling, journalism, justice studies and immigration, indigenous rights, medicine, business and entrepreneurship, gender studies, arts, entertainment and film.
Students majoring in Central American Studies take four required lower division courses, one lower division elective, nine upper division electives, and a Central American Studies Seminar course. Students minoring in Central American Studies take three lower division and three upper division courses.
Two Interesting Courses
CAS 350. Urbanization in Central America
During the second half of the 20th century the Central American societies were transformed from an agrarian to an urban-based service economy. As a result of this process and the political instability in Central America, the Central American population was massively displaced toward urban areas inside and outside the region. This interdisciplinary course will provide students with an understanding of the cultural, social, economic, demographic and political implications of the planning and development of the urban landscape in Central America and of the Central American population movement to urban spaces inside and outside the region.
CAS 366. Contemporary Indigenous Peoples of Central America
This interdisciplinary course examines the new socioeconomic, political and religious conditions that contemporary Indigenous people of Central America are facing in their daily quest for self-determination. In the last two decades, the study of Indigenous practices has challenged the traditional notion that portrays native peoples as passive subjects of the modern forces of assimilation. This course explores the transnational spaces occupied by Indigenous associations and the challenges that this Indigenous movement represents to the Central American nation/states, the participation of women in defining the future of Indigenous communities and resistance to the imposing sociocultural and political paradigms. Emphasis will be placed on contemporary Indigenous culture, identity, movements, rights, media, gender and migratory issues.
Five Possible Complementary Majors/Minors at California State University Northridge
Unique Opportunities within the Major/Minor
All students majoring or minoring in Central American Studies are required to take CAS 270/F. Fieldwork in Central American Communities:
Field study in a selected Central American community. By reflecting on their work experience, students learn how the needs of the community can best be met and how the well-being of the community is impacted by its relationships to state and local governments, community organizations and private institutions. Faculty supervisor assists students in obtaining appropriate work placements. Field study to be conducted under supervision and after preparatory instruction to acquaint students with field learning techniques.
Sample Similar Programs
- California State University Los Angeles (Cal State LA): Central American Studies Minor and Mesoamerican Studies Minor
- University of Arizona: Central American Studies Certificate
- University of California Los Angeles (UCLA): Central American Studies Minor