Public Engagement



Public Engagement—also known as outreach—is a vital part of our work. Given our considerable intellectual resources and the close ties that both Chicago and the state of Illinois have to Latin America, CLAS organizes outreach activities that extend the impact of university resources into our region and nation. The presentation of Latin America-focused content at K–16 training workshops, support for the development of new and enhanced curriculum at community colleges in the Midwest, lecture series aimed at business and the media, and arts and literary events geared to the general public constitute a rich public engagement program that reaches sizeable audiences.


CLAS organizes regular in-service professional development workshops for K–16 teachers to improve their knowledge of Latin America and discuss strategies for incorporating innovative scholarship into their curriculum.

CLAS participates in the annual Summer Institute for Educators and International Education Conference (IEC) coordinated jointly by several area studies programs. Both events are aimed primarily at elementary through community college educators and focus on content and teaching resources from various world regions; attendees receive Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs).

CLAS also capitalizes on the resources of our city by working with the Newberry Library, Field Museum, and Art Institute to organize workshops for K–16 educators.



In early 2017, CLAS launched a Postsecondary Curriculum Development Grant for Illinois community college faculty. With support from the US Department of Education, these grants are designed to support internationalization of curriculum—and specifically the integration of Latin America-related content—at the community college level. Applicants can propose to integrate new content into an existing course or to develop a new course including at least 25% content on Latin America. Applicants do not need to specialize in Latin America but should demonstrate a commitment to greater engagement and learning about the region. Awards consist of a fee of $500 and travel and/or materials reimbursement of up to $1,000 (for a maximum total award of $1,500).

Upcoming Deadlines: February 28, 2018  (projects due July 31, 2018)

CLAS also participates in the Upper Midwest Latin American Studies Initiative Regional Faculty Research-Travel Awards. Faculty members who wish to pursue Latin American/Caribbean research projects, engage in Latin America-focused conference presentations, or attend Latin Americanist conferences are eligible to compete for modest (up to $500) travel funds each academic year. Funded with federal Title VI funds from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and  University of Chicago, all designated as US Department of Education (US/ED) National Resource Centers, these awards are for Latin Americanist and Caribbeanist faculty with an appointment at external two- or four-year, public or private institution in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Iowa.

Upcoming deadline: TBD

Finally, CLAS welcomes postsecondary educators in the region to join our Associate Member program, through which faculty from other institutions have access to our libraries and participate in the intellectual life of our community. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming an Associate.


Designed as a public engagement program, the Latin American Briefing Series (LABS) presents influential academic experts, policymakers, and journalists who explore emerging current affairs that will shape future social, political, and economic trends in Latin America. Lectures are free and open to the public. Full-length videos of previous briefings are available on the Publications and Videos page, as well as on YouTube.


CLAS regularly partners with local community entities to extend dialogue on Latin American issues of interest outside the University campus. We host arts and culture events on and off campus, and support student and faculty connections with community groups, among other initiatives.

For more information on any of these programs, please contact Natalie Arsenault, Associate Director.