New Americas Institute to create university-wide focus on Latin America

August 28, 2020

Illustration by Deborah Han

University President John DeGioia announced the creation of the Americas Institute, whose mission is to connect university organizations and scholars whose work focuses on Latin America, in a schoolwide email on Aug. 13. 

The institute is interested in building on Georgetown’s current programs dedicated to scholarship of Latin America and will focus on economic, political, and social interests in the region. 

“The Americas Institute represents a remarkable opportunity to strengthen our relationships around the world, deepen our work as a global university, and engage with the Latin American region, recognizing its complexity, diversity, and possibility,” the email reads.  

Groups that will be linked by the institute include the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), the Latin America Leadership Program in the McDonough School of Business, and the Center for the Advancement of the Rule of Law in the Americas at Georgetown Law.  

According to Matthew Carnes S.J., director of CLAS, the institute will provide an exciting opportunity to bring these organizations together.

“It builds on the strengths of our many existing engagements with Latin America,” Carnes wrote in an email to the Voice, “and it draws on faculty from the College, SFS, MSB, and McCourt. It will help us deepen our research and teaching in the region, as well as support scholarships and high-impact programming here in DC and abroad.”

In a statement on their website, CLAS noted that the institute is a step forward for those who wish to work in the realm of Latin American Studies at Georgetown. 

“This establishes Latin America as the first (and for the moment, only) university-wide regional platform; others hope to follow suit, but Latin America is the pioneer,” the statement reads. “We at CLAS could not be more happy.” 

In the email, DeGioia singled out the “generosity and vision” of Rolando (COL ’68) and Monica Gonzalez-Bunster who advocated for the formation of the institute and committed $25 million towards the project. These funds will be used for a faculty chair, research and outreach programs, and student scholarships.

Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster serves on the university’s Latin American Board and on the College Board of Advisors. He is also the CEO and founder of InterEnergy, an organization focused on providing power and energy to countries across the Caribbean and Latin America. 

Gonzalez-Bunster told Georgetown Giving the program will tie together Jesuit values and Georgetown’s commitment to the region. 

“Georgetown has the ability to interact very effectively with Jesuit institutions throughout Latin America,” Gonzalez-Bunster said. “I see Georgetown as being able to serve as a focal point of knowledge and change for the better.”

As of Aug. 26, the university has yet to hire a director for the program, according to a university spokesperson. 

Roman Peregrino
Roman is the Voice's sports editor and former editor-in-chief. He is from San Francisco and a lot less Italian than his name suggests.

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