Gastón Institute Sends Delegation of Students, Research Associates to National Latino Conference

Gastón Institute | February 22, 2012
Gastón Institute Sends Delegation of Students, Research Associates to National Latino Conference

The Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy is sending ten research associates and ten students to the Fourth Biennial Siglo XXI Conference in New York City. Sponsored by the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR), “Forging the Future of Latinos in a Time of Crisis” will take place February 23–25 at the City University of New York (CUNY).

“We expect to have the largest number of presenters outside the institutions and centers located in New York City itself,” said Research Communication and Dissemination Coordinator Pablo Goldbarg.

The conference will address the current realignments stemming from the 2007–2008 global financial crisis and Great Recession that have been a factor in a restructuring of American life.

In reflecting on the conference theme, María Idalí Torres, the director of the Gastón Institute, said, “We hope to share our best scholarly work, renew our creative energies and bring back some insights on how to better pursue our mission and our goal of training the new generation of Latino researchers in the midst of complex global challenges such as the current financial crisis.”

One of the featured distinguished speakers is Edwin Meléndez, PhD, professor of urban affairs and planning and director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College of the CUNY. He is a former professor of economics at UMass Boston and was the first director of the Gastón Institute. Torres, the current and fourth director of the institute, will introduce him. Other keynote and plenary speakers are Daisy Coco de Filippis, president of Naugatuck Valley Community College; Saskia Sassen, professor of sociology and co-chair of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University; and Teresa Córdova, chair and professor of community and regional planning at the University of New Mexico.

The UMass Boston undergraduate student delegation to the conference includes Tariana Little, a McNair Program fellow and psychology major, and six U54 summer interns: Aida Palencia (nursing), Aline da Fonseca (political science), Beninson Peña and Eriliza Guerrero (economics), Carolina González (Spanish literature), and Mario Santiago (anthropology). Their presentations include a variety of topics related to the early detection of cancer among Latinos.

The faculty delegation to the conference will explore such timely issues as religion, spirituality, and health interventions (María Idalí Torres and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Rosalyn Negrón); anthropology (Associate Professor of Sociology Jorge Capetillo); ethnic relations (Associate Professor of Sociology Glenn Jacobs and Jorge Capetillo); social networks (Lecturer in Economics Phillip Granberry); and immigrant mental health (Associate Professor of Psychology Ester Shapiro).

The Gastón Institute is one of five cosponsors of the New York City conference. The other cosponsors are the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at City College, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, and Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at CUNY.

The Gastón Institute joined the IUPLR in 1989, the year the institute was founded.

Founded in 1983, the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) is a national consortium of university-based centers dedicated to advancing the Latino intellectual presence in the United States. Among its many efforts and initiatives, IUPLR has worked for more than 25 years to expand the pool of Latino scholars and leaders; promote and disseminate policy-focused research; and establish collaborative projects with scholars in the arts, STEM fields, social sciences, health, culture, and the humanities. As an official Census Information Center, IUPLR also disseminates the most current data and studies from the U.S. Census Bureau.

About the Gastón Institute
The Massachusetts State Legislature established the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1989 at the behest of Latino community leaders and scholars in response to a need for improved understanding of the Latino experience in the Commonwealth. The mission of the Gastón Institute is to inform policymakers about issues vital to the state’s growing Latino community and to provide this community with the information and analysis necessary for effective participation in public policy development. The institute has consistently documented the Latino experience in Massachusetts through research and publications directed at scholarly audiences as well policymakers and Latino community leaders and institutions. The institute honors the memory of Mauricio Gastón, a Cuban native and a long-time community activist in Boston who taught in the Community Planning Center at UMass Boston’s College of Public and Community Service from 1980 to the time of his death in 1986.

About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex urban issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit

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