CSUN Forms the First Department of Central American Studies in the US

Lead Photo: Laura Alija
Laura Alija
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Today, many major universities in the United States have Chicano studies departments, dedicated to advancing much-needed Mexican-American perspectives on history, culture and literature. But in a political climate where lawmakers have put these types of educational programs are under attack, and when anti-immigrant rhetoric runs rampant, the need for University departments that can educate and empower the Latino community is as urgent as ever – particularly for the  underrepresented regions and communities in Latin America that are often overlooked.

Which is why the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) creation of the United States’ first university Department of Central American Studies is so important.

CSUN already had a dedicated program for Central American studies, created 15 years ago, but decided to bump it to department status in order to “empower the estimated 2.5 million Central Americans living in Southern California.”


As someone who is of Central American descent and knows the struggle of not seeing yourself represented, all I can say is ?. CSUN also deserves props for all the other groups they have tried to rep, such as Armenian, American Indian, Chicana/o, Asian American, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies.

“Central America as a region is economically, politically and culturally very important to the United States and vice versa,” said Department Chair Douglas Carranza.

The department has three goals: 1. to uplift Central Americans through education and by promoting a sense of community 2. to allow Central Americans to see themselves through academia and society and 3. to help understand the diversity of Central America.

This year, about 1,150 students have enrolled in Central American studies classes.