The Program continues to receive strong support from Dean of Arts and Sciences, Guillermo Frerreyra, and has also forged new connections with disciplines in the natural sciences, notably the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. These connections are fostered through a series of brownbag lunches, guest speakers, academic conferences, and interdisciplinary course offerings. Past conferences, "Beyond the Islands: Extending the Meanings of Caribbean Culture," "Creole Connections: Linking Louisiana and the Caribbean," "After Katrina: Rebuilding Landscapes, Rebuilding Cultures," and "Black Diaspora in the South and the Caribbean" will be followed by this year's gathering, "Rhythmic Rituals of Performance: Revisiting the Past and Realizing the Present in the Gulf South and Circum-Caribbean Musical Discourses" in March of 2008.
Ultimately, our work establishing campus connections will lead to a minor, and then a major field of study for undergraduates at LSU. We are committed to increased study and translation of the major languages of Louisiana and the Caribbean, including French, Spanish, Creole and Pidgin. In our first year we have brought Professor William Ferris of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill here for consultation and for a public lecture on regionalism. The former Director of both the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss, and then the National Endowment for the Humanities, Professor Ferris offered crucial advice and encouragement, and helped us publicize our efforts. Our community of scholars also began to coalesce through a series of Brown Bag lunches organized by Professor Henninger.