Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

CLACS Defines New Agenda: Globalized Area Studies

December 12, 2011

“Do we still need area studies in a globalized world?” asks Richard Snyder, director of Brown's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Posing this provocative question to open the pages of CLACS’ new annual report for 2010-2011, he goes on to argue that both place-based and global perspectives are needed to advance understanding and address today’s pressing social, economic, and political issues. “Globalization creates a dual demand for knowledge that is broad and deep, alert to cross-regional patterns and commonalities yet also carefully attuned to contextual specificities,” he says.

To meet the challenge, CLACS is setting a new Globalized Area Studies agenda at Brown, together with its sister area studies programs and the Watson Institute.

The research and events featured in the pages of the center's annual report provide case studies of this comparative, multi-sited, cross-regional approach to interdisciplinary scholarship and public policy analysis. For instance, a CLACS conference in the spring of 2011 on “Violent Cities: Challenges of Democracy, Development and Governance in the Urban Global South” paired academics and practitioners from different world regions to discuss causes and potential solutions to urban violence.

This model is being reproduced in the 2011-2012 academic year and beyond. For example, a spring 2012 conference on "Innovative Approaches to Poverty and Inequality throughout the Global South" will convene leading policymakers and scholars from different world regions. It will be chaired by former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, a Brown professor at large, and co-sponsored by Brown's Graduate Program in Development, the Middle East Studies Program, South Asia Program, William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance, and Watson Institute.

Additionally, CLACS' undergraduate and graduate student teaching and training point to a similar pattern throughout the center’s instructional as well as research engagements.

In the report, Snyder presents Brown with an open invitation. “As we begin another year, I invite you to join us in the excitement of defining a new agenda of Globalized Area Studies at Brown.”