By Jason Aslakson
For the past eight years, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies has made its home at 61 Kirkland Street. Countless film screenings, celebrations and roundtable discussions featuring heads of state, dignitaries and world renowned scholars have taken place in the building whose address has become synonymous with DRCLAS. This August, DRCLAS will be leaving its home at 61 Kirkland and beginning a new chapter in its life by returning to its roots. DRCLAS is relocating to the newly constructed Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS). CGIS stands adjacent to Coolidge Hall, the building in which DRCLAS was founded and operated prior to its move to 61 Kirkland Street.
DRCLAS Executive Director Biorn Maybury-Lewis observed, “Though everyone understandably views most moves with some trepidation, DRCLAS’s impending transfer to the CGIS building offers us a number of important advantages. We’ll move from the edge of Harvard’s campus closer to its center. We’ll enjoy the benefits of working in a reasonably large space within a new building with good facilities for our dynamic conference, seminar, panel, and guest speaker series. And the grouping together of Harvard’s centers at CGIS will offer the University community quite literally a one-stop opportunity to learn about Harvard’s expertise and activities in a wide range of geographical and thematic areas.”
The goal of the new complex, as stated on the CGIS project web site, is “to unite members of the Government Department in a single location alongside the research centers in a location on campus central to other related social sciences programs,” including the Anthropology and Sociology Departments, as well as the Center for European Studies on Kirkland Street and the Peabody Museum and Departments of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations on Divinity Avenue.
Members of the DRCLAS staff expressed excitement about the new CGIS complex. “Moving to the new CGIS building will put DRCLAS in a more central location with increased visibility, which is fantastic,” DRCLAS Student Services Coordinator Erin Goodman remarked, observing, “This will afford busy students a shorter walk to the Center and the ability to go from ‘Japan’ to ‘Latin America’ in a few minutes. The move also allows the Center to collaborate on student activities and events with other area studies centers located in the building.”
Increased collaboration will hopefully directly affect the quality of the student experience at Harvard in relation to international studies. Students and scholars will encounter new opportunities to work with the regional centers at CGIS to gain hands-on experience in Latin America or other parts of the world. Maybury-Lewis skillfully summarized the CGIS move and the promise that it holds for DRCLAS: “We trust that this proximity to our colleagues in the other centers will enhance the University’s effort to become a truly global institution: with students, faculty, alumni, and staff better informed and inspired about what Harvard is doing around the world.”
Jason Aslakson is the Manager of the Faculty & Staff Desktop Support Group for HMDC.