Center for Latino Studies Arrives at UHD
By Mike Emery
This semester, the University of Houston-Downtown launched its Center for Latino Studies. In just a few months, this new Center—led by Dr. Bonnie A. Lucero—has already made an impression on students through a range of events and programs aimed at highlighting the diversity of Latino experiences and cultures.
“The majority of students who attend UHD are Latino students and students of color,” said Lucero, director of the Center for Latino Studies and associate professor of history. “To have a Center that speaks to the experiences of these students is very empowering.”
The Center is based in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. According to Lucero, it will focus on developing socially-empowering curriculum for the existing Latino Studies concentration (part of the Bachelor of Arts in Humanities program) and building a Latino Studies minor.
It also will enrich the curriculum in other ways with events addressing topics relevant to Latino populations in Houston and beyond.The Center is also developing innovative student support programs, like Latinas Achieve, a mentorship initiative connecting current UHD Latina students with faculty, alumni, professionals, and community leaders to promote their academic and professional success. That program will launch in spring 2019. Likewise, it will support research and creative activities on campus, through programs such as a writing support groups for faculty, and a reading collaborative on Latino Studies.
Among the courses in development is “Introduction to Latino Studies,” which will offer an interdisciplinary survey of the origins, cultures and conditions of Latino populations in the United States. Another course on the horizon is “Black and Brown Feminisms,” which addresses the historical experiences of African Americans, Latinas and other women of color as they navigated the intersections of race and gender.
The Center has worked with faculty to coordinate and centralize the course offerings in Latino Studies. Students can now access a full list of courses related to Latinos on the Center’s new campaign, “Courses with Latinos in Mind” flyers posted around campus and available on the Center for Latino Studies website and Facebook page.
These courses, Lucero said, will broaden students’ understanding of Latino Studies topics and have the potential to bolster their academic performance at UHD.
“Studies have shown that when students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, they actually perform better in the classroom,” she noted. “They get better grades, have better learning outcomes and often have higher retention rates.” Lucero continued, “Latino Studies, alongside other programs like Critical Race Studies, are absolutely central to our University’s mission as a Hispanic-Serving and and Minority-Serving Institution.”
The Center’s next event is slated for noon on Friday, Nov. 7 (Academic Building, Room A300 White Oak Room) with Dr. Juan Coronado’s lecture “Latino Manhood & The Military” (in recognition of Veteran’s Day). The lecture is based on the book written by Coronado, a scholar at Michigan State University’s Julian Samora Research Institute.
Lucero arrived at UHD from Tulane University, where she served as Law and Society Postdoctoral Fellow at Newcomb College Institute. Prior to her role at Tulane, Lucero taught at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, where she founded and directed Global Latin America, an interdisciplinary lecture and engagement series. Lucero holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, a Master of Philosophy in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor of Arts in International & Regional Studies and Spanish Language & Literature from the University of the Pacific, School of International Studies. She is the author of two books “Revolutionary Masculinity and Racial Inequality: Gendering War and Politics in Cuba” and “A Cuban City, Segregated: Race and Urbanization in the Nineteenth Century.”
Lucero is enthusiastic about her new role at UHD and confident that her academic and administrative experience will help the Center for Latino Studies continue to grow.
“We’re building on our momentum,” she said. “We’re building courses and starting new programs, including a student group focused on immigration reform, called ‘Justice for Immigrant Families.’ We welcome all ideas and look forward to serving the community and the University.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.