Special Message From CLACS Interim Director


Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies has suspended public programming for the remainder of the spring semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and instructions from the University of Illinois administrators and state and local public health officials. Our staff is all working remotely, and their health and safety, along with that of their families and the public, are our primary focus. At the same time, we remain committed to advancing the mission of CLACS during these challenging times, and I’m writing to tell you what we are doing and to invite your collaboration.

During this time, CLACS remains active in the following areas:

  •  building on our partnerships with community organizations serving Latinx immigrant populations in our area, CLACS will be a source of information about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and public health responses on immigrants in our communities. Look for information on our website, on Facebook [@CLACSatIllinois] and Twitter [@CLACS_at_Illinois] ], and through weekly emails about current events, and ways of supporting these communities through the work of our partner organizations.
  • CLACS will be a clearinghouse of information about the impact of COVID-19 across Latin America.  Through our website, social media, and emails, we will circulate links to news stories,  and helpful websites for those wanting to remain informed about the situation across the region.
  • CLACS is exploring ways to expand our set of online teaching resources and make them available to instructors teaching remotely, as well as to families looking for appropriate online resources for children at home while schools are closed.
  • and, CLACS is looking toward the fall 2020 semester when we hope to be able to return to more standard programming.  Some of the canceled spring events will be rescheduled, however, we would welcome your suggestions regarding specific speakers or programming themes. We will be sending out an online survey to solicit suggestions for academic year 20-21 programming in the coming days.
  • additionally, CLACS is continuing its academic programs, including LAST 170: Introduction to Latin America (also to be offered online in summer 2020); LAST 210: Life in the Andes; and Quechua language courses at beginning through advanced levels.
  • finally, we are completing the selection process for our Summer Graduate Research Fellowship awards (modified to accommodate the likely travel restrictions in place through summer 2020).  Look for notifications about those in the coming weeks.

While we recognize that many of you are fully occupied by the transition to remote work life, and by the anxieties of the times, we also want to invite you, as you are able, to stay connected to us.  Send us a suggestion of ways the Center can be of help during these times, send us links to community and online resources to share with other affiliates, leave us a comment on our social media page, volunteer to produce a short blog piece or video that we can circulate,… or just stay in (virtual) touch.

Most of all, stay safe and well.

Andrew Orta
Interim Director