Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Fall 2010 LAGO Working Group: Students and faculty meet outside the classroom to discuss current issues

October 12th, 2010

By: Shearon Roberts

Photo: Ludovico Feoli, Executive Director of the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research, speaks during the October 4 meeting of the LAGO working group. (Photo by Shearon Roberts)

Stone Center faculty and students met Monday, Oct. 4 for the second of a four-series discussion on the effects of the Global Economic Crisis on Latin American growth and development. The LAGO Working Group, launched this fall semester, was born out of a discussion in spring 2010 between Jonathan Kim, a Latin American Studies M.A. student and Annabella España-Nájera, a postdoctoral fellow with the Stone Center.

Kim said España-Nájera described to him how a working group between faculty and students, to discuss current affairs, was helpful and enjoyable during her PhD experience at Notre Dame University.

“It gives students an opportunity to meet faculty in another setting, and it can also lead to collaborating,” Kim said. The first faculty member to sign up was Nora Lustig, Tulane professor of Economics. Lustig said she was interested in leading a session on poverty and inequality in Latin America, and looking at change in this area with respect to the current Global Economic Crisis.

Lustig said, “I wanted to put together the information on poverty and inequality, so I thought this was a good vehicle to do this in a group setting that might be interested in learning about this topic, putting the numbers together, and then analyzing it.”

Lustig led the working group’s first session on September 9, at Jones Hall’s Greenleaf Conference Room, to a turnout of both faculty and students. She presented 2010 IMF and World Bank data on the crisis and shared with attendees the scope of the crisis on growth and development in Latin America.

That data, said Ludovico Feoli, Executive Director for Tulane’s Center for Inter-American Policy and Research, “will lead us to discussions on the geo-political implications.” Feoli led the working group’s second session on October 4, at the CIPR office in the Caroline Richardson building. Feoli’s session looked at the political causes and political consequences of the economic crisis.

“Once we understand the origins of the crisis, we can look at what are the political consequences for a region that is still consolidating its democratic transition,” Feoli said. He added that the working group brings together both the political science and economic literature on the crisis, in an interdisciplinary dialogue where students and faculty can look at a current issue from different questions and points of view.

The final two sessions on the Global Economic Crisis will take place on November 4, led by Lora Nustig, and wraps up on December 3, with Ludovico Feoli. Kim says he hopes to expand the interdisciplinary scope of the working group to focus beyond the social sciences.

“It would be great to have multiple working groups going on at the same time,” Kim said. “Like one in humanities or even in evolutionary biology. I would definitely be interested in that.”

LAGO Working Group Readings and Schedule