The new, unique Institute for the Study of the Americas in London hopes to reinvigorate research in the field. It is seeking a lecturer with broad expertise. Chris Johnston reports
The Institute for the Study of the Americas next week becomes the newest element of the University of London. The institute, part of the School of Advanced Study, is being formed by a merger between the Institute of Latin American Studies and the Institute of United States Studies, both of which were set up in 1965.
Karen Perkins, the administrative manager, says it will fill a gap within the university by conducting research and postgraduate teaching on Canada and the English and French-speaking parts of the Caribbean as well as the US and Latin America.
It will also add the dimension of comparative American studies to the school's teaching and research. The combination of free-standing and comparative studies covering all sections of the hemisphere makes the institute unique in Europe.
Last week, the institute advertised in The Times Higher for a lecturer in United States studies. Candidates with expertise in the fields of foreign policy, international relations or international political economy relating to the US in the post-Cold War era are particularly encouraged to apply.
The successful applicant will contribute to the US studies and comparative American studies programmes and will, therefore, require an understanding of the whole continent.
Ms Perkins says the institute aims to "reinvigorate US studies in Britain", which she believes has declined in recent years, particularly in the capital.
The Institute for Latin American Studies achieved a 5 in the past two research assessment exercises and the new institute will be aiming for a similar result, she says.
Iwan Morgan, of London Metropolitan University, was recently appointed professor of US studies and will join in October.
Director of the institute is James Dunkerley, who has this week been in Bolivia for President Carlos Mesa's referendum on state participation in the energy industry.
Ms Perkins also says the institute will play a national and international role as a coordinating and information centre for all sections of the Americas for universities throughout the UK.
As well as serving and strengthening national networks of North American, Latin American and Caribbean scholars, the institute will maintain existing ties and develop new ones with academic and cultural organisations and businesses with interests in those regions.
There are 12 academic staff. Funding from the Canadian High Commission, to support a lectureship in Canadian studies, is expected to be announced in the near future. Ms Perkins says funding is also being sought for a similar post that would focus on the Caribbean.