Chicano/Latino Studies is the interdisciplinary study of social, cultural, political, economic, and historical forces that have shaped the development of the people of Mexico and other Latin American countries in the United States over the last 300 years.
The emphasis of the Chicano/Latino Studies Program is on the experience of Chicanos/Mexican-Americans and other Latinos/Hispanics in the United States.
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The academic field of Chicano/Latino Studies owes its origin to the 1960s Chicano/Mexican American civil rights movement, the Puerto Rican civil rights movement, and their efforts to open universities to Latino students, and to promote university-community links that improve the status of Latino populations. The Chicano/Latino Studies Program at Portland State University proudly stands in this tradition of university work committed to community improvement.
The Chicano/Latino experience predates the mid-nineteenth century, when territories belonging to Mexico were occupied by the United States. Chicanos and other groups of Latin American origin have been central actors in the growth and development of the United States as a nation, and in the course of this rich history, they have made significant contributions to every facet of U.S. society. Latinos are currently the largest part of the demographic change that is reshaping the United States in the 21st century (much in the same way that Irish, Italian, and Jewish populations changed the face of the nation in the 19th and early 20th centuries).
Chicano/Latino Studies brings together the tools, approaches, and methodologies of the social sciences and the humanities to study the growing Latino segment of the United States-its history, the diversity of its culture and ethnic heritage, its contributions, and its challenges in the 21st century—and the ways it is changing as a result of the rich and varied Latino cultural influence.