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Develop an understanding of the economic development and the democratization of the Americas - Latin American, Caribbean and North America – amidst the backdrop of its multiple challenges that include economic obstacles, democratic backsliding, enduring violence, and migration. Study the region’s role within the broader global context as the world order evolves. The Americas focus area offers a policy-oriented curriculum complemented by various experiential learning opportunities such as travel to the region, speaker events, and internships.


The Americas Focus Area offers a robust selection of 13 classes that affords students the opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge of the Americas across a wide array of functional areas to include politics, economics, finance, development, security & conflict, energy & the environment, and migration.

  • Understanding Modern Latin American Politics
  • Financial Crises and Policy Dilemmas in Emerging Markets and Latin America
  • Security, Conflict, and Migration in Latin America
  • Urban Economics for the Developing World: Economy, Equity, and Sustainability
  • Contemporary Issues of Inter-American Relations
  • Drugs, Walls and Aging Guerillas: Seminar on U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Latin America
  • Energy in the Americas: Conflict, Cooperation & Future Prospects
  • Politics of North American Economic Integration
  • China and Latin America
  • Contemporary and Evolving Policy Challenges in Latin America
  • Policy Consulting Practicum
  • Latin America Research Seminar/Colombia Study Trip
  • Public Diplomacy and Public Opinion/Brazil Study Trip


The Americas Focus Area publishes a bi-annual newsletter that highlights key activities throughout the semester, informing students of future opportunities and showcasing major accomplishments.  Click on these links to download the Spring 2023 and the Fall 2023 newsletters.

Study Trips

The Americas offers multiple opportunities to travel to the region to gain field research experience and to engage with leaders and partner organizations. Students are encouraged to present the findings of their research from traveling abroad.


Gain an in-depth knowledge and regional expertise of the Americas through a policy-oriented and cross-functional curriculum that addresses and aims to find solutions to the complex challenges facing the region.

Understanding Modern Latin American Politics

Covers the basic interpretive frameworks that have been employed to analyze political change in Latin America, from the

original debates between modernization and dependency theory through the rise of authoritarian regimes to the more recent studies on democratic transitions, neoliberal politics and economics and the consolidation of democratic regimes. Required introductory course for all LASP students.

Financial Crises and Policy Dilemmas in Emerging Markets and Latin America

Cover key macroeconomic and financial policy issues facing Emerging Markets. The course is divided into two parts.

The first explores the causes, dynamics and consequences of selected crises episodes affecting emerging markets and Latin America; from the debt crises of the 1980’s to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second part addresses issues regarding crisis resolution, including the political economy of crises, their long run impacts on the economy, and the future of the international financial architecture.

China and Latin America

Over the past decade, China has emerged as a principal economic partner for much of Latin America. This course examines whether

and how China's economic activity in Latin America will evolve in the coming years, taking China's domestic considerations, evolving Belt and Road objectives, Latin American political economy, US policy, and other factors into account. The course will also address the political, social, and security-related implications of Latin America's over two decades of enhanced relations with China.

Energy in the Americas: Conflict, Cooperation & Future Prospects

Analyzes the political economy of energy conflict and cooperation by function and in terms of major players. The functional component

covers the politics of oil, natural gas issues, biofuels, energy infrastructure, energy organization and regulation, private and public sector participation, geopolitics and other energy topics. The major players component includes the politics of energy in Canada, Mexico, the United States, the Andean countries, Brazil, the Southern Cone and Venezuela, and also offers a global perspective on the impact of the world’s major energy producers and consumers (i.e. China, India, the Middle East countries and Russia) on the Americas.


Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Albert Marckwardt

Adjunct Lecturer

Jacqueline Mazza

Senior Adjunct Professor

In the News

Italy’s new leader faces familiar problems, including fickle voters

In the Washington Post, Professor Gilbert writes about the results of the Italian general elections that occurred this past weekend. He explains that Giorgia Meloni's win has brought fear to the public because, although she claims to no longer be a fascist, her political party descends from neo-fascist ideals.

Far-right Nationalist Giorgia Meloni Elected as Italy's First Female Prime Minister

Mark Gilbert gives background information and analysis in an NBC news special report on the election of Giorgia Meloni.

From Elizabeth II to Charles III: A Triumph of British Ceremonial and Soft Power

David Ellwood discusses the significant contributions Queen Elizabeth II made during her reign, and what may occur now after her passing. In his article published to the CPD Blog, he also touches on King Charles, and his possible continuation of soft power.

Is EU enlargement to Ukraine and Moldova credible?

The Loop published an article co-authored by Professor Anghel which discusses the possibility of both Ukraine and Moldova entering the European Union despite not meeting EU membership criteria. The authors mention previous EU membership promises to the countries of the Western Balkans, however, note that there may be a difference when security of the EU is in question.

Coups in the Kremlin

In a Foreign Affairs article, written by Professor Radchenko, there is discussion on what may occur to Putin in the coming years. With the turns of the war, supporters of Putin are starting to have their doubts on what lies ahead. Will he maintain his position of power? Or will there be a transition?

Russian history professor breaks down Putin's latest speech

After Putin calls military reservists for the front lines of Ukraine and to annex parts of Ukraine to Russia, Professor Radchenko goes on NPR to discuss the meaning of these calls. In the interview Professor Radchenko speaks to how the Russian people are starting to feel directly affected by a war which is for Putin's imperial dreams. The interview then closes off with brief questioning on possible nuclear weapon use.

The betrayal myth behind Putin’s brinkmanship.

Mary Sarotte wrote in Wall Street Journal, 01/07

The books to read in 2022.

Mary Sarotte’s book cited in Financial Times, 12/29

Was the Soviet Union betrayed by the West?

Mary Sarotte cited in Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12/23

Student Stories

Join an influential alumni network of more than 20,000 professionals working across sectors in 140 countries around the world.

Juan Arias

SAIS is unique and flexible, allowing me to tailor studies to my specific interests and career goals, with a broad alumni network that is eager to help current students.

Ana Zhen Profile Image

Studying China's Engagement in Latin America

With my degree, I am hoping to build a career that would allow me to give back to my community, to give back to Colombia. As a Chinese Colombian, I would like to be part of that bridge that connects the two countries and the wider Latin American region.

View Story

Ashley Profile Image

From Kansas to Canada and Back

When it came time to pick my region of focus at SAIS, it was a no-brainer. The Canadian Studies program at SAIS gave me an in-depth understanding of Canadian policy issues and helped me develop my skills in policy writing.

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Beyond the Classroom

Gain real-world, cutting-edge expertise needed to address today’s most pressing challenges in the region.

Security Challenges in Latin America Forum

The Americas Focus Area and the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies co-host the premiere day-long annual forum at SAIS that brings together thought leaders from various disciplines to discuss current security challenges affecting Latin America. Each year the forum focuses on different themes. The 2024 forum will focus on securing the environment and how the armed forces and law enforcement can address deforestation and IUU fishing. The 2023 forum focused on contemporary evolving threats in the region and the 2022 forum focused on the intersection of gender and security.

5th Annual Forum on Security Challenges in Latin America

World Class Events

The Americas regularly hosts multiple expert policy makers, scholars, and organizes forums throughout the academic year to deepen the students understanding and expand the conversation on the contemporary issues facing the region. Students are encouraged to explore topics by attending events and by showcasing their own research.

China’s Increased Influence in Latin America Is it a threat for the region and the U.S.?