Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

Starting next fall, UT will offer a degree to suit the growing demand of social workers with an understanding of Latino and Latino immigrant culture in Texas.

The School of Social Work and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, or LLILAS, will offer a dual-degree program at the graduate level, combining social work skills with competency in Latino culture and languages. Those who complete the program will receive a Master of Science in Social Work and a Master of Arts with a major in Latin American studies. The program is the first of its kind in the country, according to LLILAS spokeswoman Susanna Sharpe.

Jane Kretzschmar, assistant dean for the Master of Science in Social Work program, said there has been a gap between social work in Texas and the needs of its diverse Latino and immigrant population. Kretzschmar said the new program is looking to attract mostly people who speak a Latin American language.

“I have been in Texas for a long time, and I know a lot of social workers who wish they had that background,” Kretzschmar said.

Former LLILAS graduate student Cintia Huitzil petitioned for the degree program by working with students from the School of Social Work and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. According to Sharpe, Huitzil started collecting the signatures for a letter proposing the degree program in spring 2013.

“I hope that in combining these disciplines, LLILAS and the School of Social Work can foment a more critical and conscientious student body with the theoretical and practical background to best serve the Latinos and Latin American immigrants in this country,” Huitzil said in a statement.

Huitzil, a second-generation indigenous Chicana, was a social worker based in Los Angeles before getting her graduate degree at UT. She worked with indigenous immigrants to help them gain access to social services.

Sharpe said there used to be a “disconnect” concerning Latin American studies. The degree used to focus on observing the countries from afar rather than actually partnering with the people from those countries in order to understand their culture and politics.

“That’s partly what this degree is about — making [social workers] serve as partners,” Sharpe said. “It would be so much more helpful if we knew more about the social and political context of these people.”

Steve Stern from the University of Wisconsin at Madison speaks at the unveiling of Guatemalan police archives at the UT law school on Friday afternoon. The documentsÂ’ existence was long denied by the Guatemalan police, and they chronicle the history of the Guatemalan police for the past 100 years.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

A digital archive featuring millions of images and documents from the National Police of Guatemala could help people searching for family and friends who have disappeared, said Karen Engle, law professor and co-director and founder of the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice.

The Rapoport Center, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and UT Libraries hosted a conference where panelists discussed a wide-range of topics, such as how the use of the archive has helped with the progress of human rights cases and research in Guatemala.

Engle said the information in the archive became public in 2009 when Guatemala passed a freedom of information law, and on Friday the UT Libraries made much of the archive available online.

The archive’s coordinator, Gustavo Meoño, created the archive from a warehouse of decomposing documents at the national police headquarters that was found more than six years ago in Guatemala City. The warehouse’s existence had been denied by the country’s government and police force, according to UT’s website.

Now, Meoño and his team have transformed these documents into a world-class archive that chronicles the history of the national police for the past 100 years.

He said this archive has helped and will continue to help uncover the history of Guatemala, specifically the time period of 1975-1985, when the majority of human rights violations were committed during the country’s civil war.

“The archive is fundamental for criminal investigations and persecutions in Guatemala,” Meoño said. “Historical, cultural and sociological investigations can all be stemmed to the archive and can advance the transition of justice.”

The archive is currently comprised of approximately 80 million images and documents, and about 13 million are already digitized and available on the archive’s website.

Christian Kelleher, archivist for the Benson Latin American Collection and project manager for the Human Rights Documentation Initiative, led the presentation of the website.

Kelleher navigated the audience through the website’s structure and discussed how to go about searching for documents and viewing them.

“We tried to make the experience of using this online archive as close to the experience of someone using the original archive itself.” Kelleher said. “There’s very limited indexing that can lead to direct access to the document, so identifying any material or looking for any document takes a lot of work to find.”

Charles Hale, director of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and Benson Latin American Collection, said students could find the archive valuable for many purposes.

“Students can learn how to navigate large data sets, explore the complexities of Guatemalan history — deeply intertwined with that of our country — and work in support of initiatives in Guatemala to protect human rights, bring perpetrators to justice and build a more just and democratic society,” Hale said.

Printed on Monday, December 5, 2011 as: Archive features Guatemalan documents

The School of Information and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies have introduced a new dual master’s degree program between the two schools. This program would provide students with a master of arts in Latin American studies and a master of science in information studies.

“The need for this program came from two sources,” said Philip Doty, associate dean for the School of Information. “One master’s student expressed her interest in bridging the two schools and both schools have had an informal relationship with each other for at least 30 to 40 years.”

The program allows students to obtain both degrees in three years as opposed to being in school for four years if the student wished to obtain the degrees separately, according to the website. The conclusion of the program requires a Master’s thesis in a subject which applies to both disciplines.

“With the rich cultural resources of the Latin America and the explosion in adoption of digital technologies across the region, the program will provide students with an opportunity to combine cultural history and policy with behavioral and technology studies,” said Andrew Dillon, dean of the School of Information.

Information Studies examines how information is collected, displayed and conveyed and its effects in society, while Latin American Studies examines the past and present of Latin America and allows students to further understand the culture of the region.

“Information Studies deals with how to engage information in different areas, such as social science and math and understanding the relationship between humans and information,” said Luis Francisco-Revilla, associate professor at the School of Information. “[The dual degree program] is an interesting combination and it’s helpful for people to see the context in which people engage in cultural issues.”

Doty said students interested in applying to the program must apply to each school separately and indicate their desire to be in the program. Like many other dual degree programs at UT, there will be about two or three students pursuing the degree at a given time, he said. Students are chosen based on previous experience with the two fields, academic performance and a clear statement describing their desire to be in the program, he said.

“While the most immediate source of Hispanic culture in Texas is from Mexico, there are a lot of UT students and people in Texas from Central America and other South American countries,” Doty said. “As the Hispanic demographic in America changes, the iSchool is interested in attracting people from the Spanish-speaking world in order to help us better understand the culture of the region.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 as: Dual master's combines information, cultural ties