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MAJ09380 Latino USA

With a population of some 307 million and composed of 50 states, the United States of America is the third-largest nation in terms of size and population in the world. It is the only 20th century superpower to enter the 21st century with its power intact and still boasts the world's largest national economy, the strongest military and extraordinary cultural influence on a global level. The capital is Washington DC and its two biggest and most cosmopolitan cities are New York on the east coast, and Los Angeles on the west coast. Absorbing wave after wave of migrants from all over the world since the original 13 American colonies broke with Great Britain in 1776, the USA is one of the most culturally and racially diverse of nations. This fact, however, has not translated into multicultural harmony, with many members of the nation's African-American, Native American and Latino (Hispanic) populations continuing to experience racism, discrimination and socioeconomic marginalisation, despite the profound impact these groups have had on US culture, politics and society.

The Latino USA major is based on the premises that the USA is one of the world's largest Spanish-speaking countries, and that latinisation is inexorably transforming the USA, and hence Australia's understanding of that country. Already in many cities, Spanish has joined English as a de facto second language and, in some parts of the USA, Spanish has or is approaching majority status. The Latino population of the USA currently stands at some 50 million, a figure that does not include so-called illegal residents, estimated at between 12 and 15 million people, or the four million residents of Puerto Rico. It is estimated that by 2050, Latinos will comprise more than 25 per cent of the US population. Most observers posit that Latinos will be a majority in their own right by the end of the 21st century.

The Latino USA major is designed for students to learn about and experience first hand the demographic, cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic and political processes of latinisation in the USA. The major prepares students for understanding how those latinising processes will transform the USA, and how other parts of the world regard and relate to that country. Students who select this major take advantage of the current demographic, political, socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic transformation of the USA, giving them important skills for any professional area conducted in the Pacific region. The Latino USA major allows students to learn Spanish, to learn about the history and cultures of the USA's heterogeneous Latino sectors, and to spend an academic year of study at universities in parts of the USA with large Latino populations. This major focuses on the 'core' and longest-established Latino sectors: Chicanos and Mexican-Americans, the largest Latino population and the one swelled by continuing mass migration from Mexico; US-resident Puerto Ricans; and Cuban-Americans. But the major also provides space for deeper understanding of other significant Latino communities.

Students spend two consecutive semesters studying Spanish language and Latino cultures at one of the sites below through arrangements made by UTS: International Studies. The sites are located in areas of the USA with substantial Latino populations, thus enabling international studies students to speak Spanish on a daily basis and to undertake research projects based on and in Latino communities.

  • San Diego State University
  • University of Arizona, Tucson
  • University of Texas at El Paso
  • University of Miami, Florida.

Students are assessed separately each semester, based on subjects undertaken at the host institutions, as well as assessments administered by UTS: International Studies.

Due to current exchange rates students may expect that greater costs are incurred through undertaking a period of in-country study in the USA than are involved in living away from home in Sydney.

Semester dates

  • Semester 1: early January to mid-May (US Spring semester)
  • Semester 2: early August to mid-December (US Fall semester)


San Diego, California

Located in the southwest corner of California on the US-Mexico border and faced by the Mexican city of Tijuana, San Diego is the seventh largest city in the USA with a population of 1.3 million, and a greater metropolitan population of three million. Its Latino population is around 30 per cent of the total. Some 195 kilometres south of Los Angeles, San Diego has long served as a point of cultural transition between California and Mexico. The city's coastal location means that residents have ready access to a string of fine beaches and some of the best surfing on the US west coast. The climate is mild, daytime temperatures rarely straying over 30 degrees in summer or dropping below 20 in the winter.

San Diego State University (SDSU) is the largest university in San Diego and the third largest in California. SDSU is home to nearly 33,000 students and approximately 6400 academic faculty and administrative staff. The main SDSU campus is located in a Mexican-American stronghold, and is connected by regular buses to downtown San Diego, the trip taking approximately half an hour. The campus is compact, most of its streets have Aztec/Náhuatl names, and the buildings are in a fetching neo-Spanish colonial style, surrounded by impressive cactus gardens and lush landscaping. Another campus is located 160 kilometres to the east at El Centro, a migrant feeder town on the California-Mexico border whose population is predominantly Spanish-speaking. SDSU offers undergraduate programs at both campuses in Arts and Letters (Humanities), Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Health and Human Services, Professional Studies and Fine Arts (this faculty includes journalism, tourism, TV/media production, communication, art, design and art history) and the Sciences.

In-country study students and students on exchange have the option of studying at either campus. If based at the main campus, students undertake subjects in Spanish language and culture and Latino and border studies, and may take classes at one of two Mexican universities located across the border in Tijuana in consultation with SDSU teaching staff and the in-country study major coordinator approval. Students based at El Centro undertake the same academic program, but also have a social awareness program built into their academic studies.

In-country study students (Latino USA major) and general exchange students must have a credit average or above to apply. This program is not open to MBA students. Note that there are different requirements for in-country study and exchange students in terms of their study programs at SDSU.

Tucson, Arizona

Arizona, Tucson, is a thriving desert city of some 525,000 people, and a greater county population of one million, in the south of Arizona, some 100km from the US-Mexico border and the twin cities of Nogales. Bounded by four groups of mountains, Tucson is located in one of the most spectacular desert environments in the USA, home to a huge range of cacti. Given its border and desert location, Tucson has also been one of the most significant US settings for contact and interaction between Anglo-Americans, indigenous peoples and Mexicans. The Tohono O'odham and the Yaqui nations have a significant presence in the city and in nearby reservations. The Latino population of Tucson is around 40 per cent and growing steadily.

UTS students who select the University of Arizona, Tucson for in-country study, undertake classes in Spanish language and Latino, Chicano and Border studies in both semesters of in-country study. Exchange students select subjects in their professional degree area with the approval of their faculty. The University of Arizona is a university with over 34,000 students. It is one of the top ranked research universities in the USA. The main campus of the University of Arizona is located in the heart of Tucson. UA has 18 colleges and 12 schools, which cover such disciplines as humanities, fine arts, agriculture and life sciences, architecture, planning and landscape architecture, education, engineering and mines, pharmacy, public health, science, and social and behavioral sciences. In-country study students undertake subjects in Spanish language and culture, and US Latino studies.

El Paso, Texas

Located on the US-Mexico border at the conjunction of the US states of New Mexico and Texas, and surrounded by the Chihuahuan Desert, El Paso is a thriving border city with a population of some 610,000. Latinos, mostly Mexican American, comprise 80 per cent of the city total, and Spanish is the city's dominant language. Across the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte) lies the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez, which has a population of some 1.6 million. Together the two cities form a vast border-straddling metropolis.

UTS students who select the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) for in-country study, undertake classes in Spanish language and Latino, Chicano and Border studies in both semesters of in-country study. Exchange students select subjects in their professional degree area with the approval of their faculty. UTEP is the second largest university in the vast University of Texas system. UTEP is a state-run university whose teaching and research program elides neatly with that of UTS. UTEP emphasises professional education, public outreach and the internationalistion of its students' learning experiences. Given its location on the border with Mexico, and in a city that is 75 per cent Mexican American, UTEP also has the highest percentage of Mexican American students of any US university (72 per cent, plus 10 per cent Mexican nationals). UTEP is nationally recognised for its innovative teaching methods and programs designed to help students succeed, and for its vigorous programs of community outreach on both sides of the US-Mexico border. UTEP has some 19,000 students (18 per cent of whom are at graduate level); 82 per cent come from El Paso county (the second poorest county in the USA) and 55 per cent of all students are women. Approximately 58 per cent of UTEP's students are first-generation college students.

Miami, Florida

One of the most cosmopolitan and latinised cities in the United States, Miami has a population of 425,000, and its surrounding metropolitan area, the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Area, has an overall population of 5.4 million people, making it the fourth largest urban area in the USA after New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. On the edge of the famous Florida everglades, and straddling a series of lagoons and islands, fast-paced Miami has also become one of the financial and economic powerhouses of the US south-east. The city's proximity to the islands of the Caribbean has also made it a first port of call for the region's refugees and exiles; aside from the substantial Cuban-American community that started arriving en masse after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the city also boasts large Nicaraguan, Haitian, Dominican, Honduran and Colombian populations. Latinos (Hispanics) make up 67 per cent of the total population, with the Cuban-American community alone representing 34 per cent of the total. These figures are predicted to increase dramatically over the next few decades. Spanish does not simply rival English; it is the city's first language.

UTS students who select the University of Miami for in-country study undertake classes in Spanish language and Latino studies in both semesters of in-country study. Exchange students select subjects in their professional degree area with the approval of their faculty. The University of Miami is a private university and one of the largest in south-eastern United States. The main campus is located on 260 acres of tropical vegetation in the City of Coral Gables, a suburb just south of Miami. The university's 13 colleges and schools offer study programs at all levels. While the Coral Gables campus houses nine schools and two colleges, the university has other specialist campuses and schools in downtown Miami, Virginia Key and Biscayne Bay. The university also maintains the Koubek Center in Little Havana, which offers a range of study programs in Spanish language and Latino culture. Other notable centres include the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.

Completion requirements

976001  Foundations in International Studies  8cp
976502  Contemporary Latin(o) Americas  8cp
977620  In-country Study 1: Latino USA  24cp
978620  In-country Study 2: Latino USA  24cp
CBK90484  Spanish Language and Culture  32cp
Total  96cp