FAS Establishes Observatory for Spanish Language Study

New initiative to be housed in Arrow Street building

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has collaborated with the Instituto Cervantes, a nonprofit organization that was created by the Spanish government and promotes the study of Spanish language and culture, to create a Harvard-based observatory for scholarship on Spanish language in the United States.

The collaboration, which will be called the Instituto Cervantes Observatory of the Spanish Language and Hispanic Cultures in the United States, was recently established through a pact signed by University President Drew G. Faust, Dean of Arts and Humanities Diana Sorensen, and Instituto Cervantes director Víctor García de la Concha, according to a press release.

The new observatory, which will be housed in a building on Arrow Street, joins on campus the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, a 19-year-old hub for regional scholarship, though it will be the only space of its kind at Harvard devoted specifically to the study of Spanish language and culture within the United States.

“We want Harvard to be a reference of culture and thinking expressed in Spanish in the United States,” Francisco Moreno-Fernández, a professor at the University of Alcalá who will serve as the observatory’s executive director, wrote in an email from Spain.

While in the past critics have questioned Harvard’s commitment to the study of Latino languages and culture both within and outside the classroom, organizers emphasized the opportunities the new observatory hopes to create for students.

Sorensen, who will direct the initiative, said the observatory will look to engage student groups, such as Latin American student organizations. She said she expects the new initiative to have a positive impact on the study of linguistics as well as on Hispanic students, whom she hopes “will gather around the study of their language and their culture.”

The new observatory, Moreno-Fernández added, will provide Harvard students with the chance “to get up close to many of the most important thinkers and experts...from the Spanish-speaking world.”

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