From the Popol Vuh to Pope Francis: Religion in Latin America

Five-day summer workshop for K-12 educators will explore the history of religion in Latin America from pre-conquest through the 21st century

From the Popol Vuh to Pope Francis: Religion in Latin America

Days of Instruction:

Monday, June 16 – Friday, June 20, 2014
8:00 am - 3:00 pm

Approved for 2 LAUSD salary points (qualified multicultural credit)


Last year, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the first Pope from Latin America. The presence of the Catholic Church in the region traces back to the conquest and colonization of the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese. Today, more than 40% of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America and there is a growing influence of other non-Catholic movements in the region, most notably Pentecostalism.

This five-day workshop will allow teachers to investigate and compare the distinct historical, socio cultural and political contexts through which various religious expressions have emerged in Latin America. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the course will explore how religious institutions and beliefs have informed and transformed communities and identities from the pre-Columbian era through the 21st century. Presentations and discussions will examine Indigenous practices and beliefs, Catholicism, the presence and influence of African religious practices, Muslim and Jewish diasporas, the spread of Liberation Theology in the 20th century, and the recent growth of Protestantism.

Given the growing size of the Latino and Latin American descendant population in the United States and Los Angeles, this course provides teachers with a tool through which they can explore and better understand the history and culture of their students. Moreover, the workshop will include curriculum sessions to facilitate the discussion of how to integrate material into the classroom.

Guest Speakers:

Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies, Virgina Commonwealth University (Pentecostalism; Santa Muerte)
Manuel Aguilar, professor of art history, Cal State LA (Aztec religion and cosmology)
Gloria Chacon, professor of literature, UC San Diego (Popol Vuh)
Kevin Terraciano, LAI director and professor of history, UCLA (Colonial Latin America)
Steven Hackel, professor of history, UC Riverside (California Missions)
Charlene Villaseñor Black, professor of art history, UCLA (Art and Architecture of Conquest in New Spain)
Ysamur Flores-Peña, Otis College of Art & Design (Afro-Diaspora Religions)
Steven Hyland, professor of history, Wingate University (Muslim diaspora in Latin America)
Alejandro Meter, professor of Spanish, San Diego University (Jewish diaspora in Latin America)
Hector Perla, professor of Latin American & Latino Studies, UC Santa Cruz (Liberation Theology)
Jennifer Hughes, professor of history, UC Riverside (Virgin of Guadalupe; Pope Francis)

*Note: This course will examine a variety of religious beliefs, including some that you may or may not subscribe to. The purpose of the course is not to determine or discuss the validity of one belief over another, but rather, to examine and understand the historical and cultural contexts which have impacted and have been impacted by various forms of religious expression and institutions.

Open to current K-12 teachers in all disciplines.

$110 (Includes parking, course materials, breakfast & refreshments).

Registration for the workshop is completed in two steps:
1. Submission of short online application
2. Online Payment (Debit/Credit Card: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover)

Seating is limited. Registration Deadline: Wednesday, June 11

Course Requirements:
All partcipants are expected to be present and actively engaged for all of the workshop sessions. In addition to classroom contact hours, paticipants are required to access reading materials, discussion questions, and other resources and assignments online via a course website (CCLE).

To receive LAUSD salary credit, teachers are required to complete all assignments and readings and produce a curriculum development project that incorporates material learned into standards-based lesson plans centered on the workshop's themes.

Co-sponsored by the UCLA African Studies Center & the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies

For questions or more information please contact:

Cynthia Gomez