Established in 1962, the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies (CLAIS) serves as the central hub for intellectual exchange and collaborations in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. The council works to strengthen exchange and innovation through a broad array of courses, cultural events, scholarly lectures, international conferences, and academic research. More than forty-five Yale faculty conduct research and teach courses with substantial Latin American content. Recent years have seen increased collaboration between Latin Americanists in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the professional schools in the areas of forestry and environmental studies, global health, nursing, medicine, law, and human rights.
CLAIS offers an undergraduate major in Latin American Studies and a Graduate Certificate of Concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies for graduate and professional students at Yale. CLAIS offers travel fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students, hosts eminent visiting scholars, and supports faculty research and curriculum development. CLAIS supports the development of new resources for language teaching in Spanish, Portuguese, Nahuatl, and other indigenous languages. CLAIS promotes linkages with other U.S., Latin American, and Iberian institutions to bolster cooperation and understanding of these interconnected regions.
CLAIS organizes and sponsors numerous lectures, symposia, conferences, and film events. The Latino & Iberian Film Festival is one of the more popular events at the council as it brings together the entire Yale and Greater New Haven community. Promoting cultural awareness and understanding, LIFFY invites filmmakers, actors, and producers to interact with students and the audience. CLAIS also partners with schools and programs at Yale to host conferences and special series related to Latin America. The School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and the Law School are strong partners with regular speaker events, including the Latin American Series at Yale Law School and annual conferences with the International Society of Tropical Foresters and the Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean at F&ES.
In 2016-17, CLAIS inaugurated one of its newest signature programs, the Cuba Initiative. Supported by Yale’s MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, CLAIS organized a number of activities to highlight Cuban history, culture, and society last year. The cornerstone of the CLAIS Cuba Initiative is an undergraduate course that includes a two-week class trip to Cuba. Yale has also appointed Dr. Reinaldo Funes-Monzote, Professor of History at the University of Havana, as the Henry Hart Rice Family Foundation Visiting Professor. His research is dedicated mainly to the Cuban and Caribbean Environmental History, with several academic articles and chapters in collective books about these issues. Dr. Funes-Monzote facilitates much of the two-week class trip to Cuba and continues to be a resource to students.