Distinction Guidelines

(Approved October 24, 2005)

Latin American Studies will award distinction on a yearly basis to senior majors who meet the criteria listed below. The guidelines for distinction reflect the desire of Latin American Studies to promote scholarly excellence, to provide students with an opportunity to summarize synoptically their experience as students of Latin American Studies, to utilize academic perspectives explored in their studies for the major, and to promote stimulating dialogue among students and faculty about aspects of Latin American Studies.

A. Criteria for Eligibility 

To qualify for candidacy for distinction, students must meet the following criteria:

3.5 overall grade point average
3.65 Latin American Studies grade point average
Grade point averages will be initially tallied through the student’s third year. However, candidacy for distinction will be continued only if minimum grade averages are maintained through the fall semester of the senior year.

B. Criteria for Distinction Projects

Seniors who qualify to be candidates for distinction will be invited to submit a portfolio to be considered for distinction. The portfolio will consist of a total of three papers: two (2) academic papers, each from a different discipline, and one (1) reflective essay.

One of the academic papers should be substantial in length, approximately 4500 words. The second should be a minimum of 1500 words. The candidates have the option of presenting existing, revised or new papers. Each of the papers must be appropriate to the discipline/s involved and must present a thorough analysis of a clearly defined topic and a well thought-out conclusion. At least one of the papers must involve a significant amount of independent research and demonstrate evidence (bibliography) that the author is aware of recent scholarship in the subject area. All of the papers should demonstrate the ability to think critically and analytically, and should be presented in a uniform format according to a standard such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the MLA Style Manual.

The reflective essay should be approximately 1500 words and should address the following question: How have the different disciplines you have studied informed your understanding of the Hispanic World? Consider both your personal and academic experiences and explain how they relate to your studies within this interdisciplinary major.

C. Process

The Director of Latin American Studies will request the list of senior majors of Latin American Studies and their academic transcripts from the Registrar´s Office once the grades for the spring semester of the junior year are posted in June. Students who are eligible to be considered for distinction will be notified promptly by the Director of Latin American Studies and will receive the guidelines for the distinction process. At the same time the Latin American Studies faculty will be notified as to who these students are through a letter which will also include the list of Latin American Studies courses taken by the candidate(s) as well as his/her overall grade point average and grade point average in Latin American Studies courses.

Upon receiving a letter of notification of their eligibility, interested candidates can proceed to prepare their portfolio. It is required that students discuss their distinction portfolio with a faculty advisor of their choice. The advisor must be a Latin American Studies faculty member and, preferably, one with whom the student has worked in the past.

By December 1 candidates for distinction must notify the Latin American Studies Director of their desire to pursue distinction. By April 1 candidates will submit their final distinction portfolio to the Director of Latin American Studies and inform the Director of their choice of project advisor. The final distinction portfolio will be evaluated by the project advisor and by one additional Latin American Studies faculty member, to be named by the Director in consultation with the student and the project advisor. A decision will be made by the two Latin American Studies faculty involved in the distinction project—Latin American Studies Distinction Committee—, who will then inform the Director and the Latin American Studies faculty of their decision of granting or not granting distinction to the candidate.

By May 1 candidates will be notified of the Latin American Studies faculty’s decision regarding the awarding of distinction. Candidates awarded distinction will present their work to Latin American Studies faculty and students at a public ceremony and will be recognized at commencement.