Prof notes - Emelio Betances

Sociology and Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies

Prof. Emelio BetancesFact and fiction

I use novels in most of my classes. In the social sciences we have very strict rules pertaining to the presentation and interpretation of evidence. The methodology of the social sciences is rigorous, but it doesn’t allow for the nuances to be explained clearly. When students read the novels, they get a deeper understanding of the topics.

Critical thought

What I like is for students to develop critical thought. I think it is important for these students who are getting a liberal arts education to have different lenses to look at the world, to understand that the perspective that you use frames your vision. I tell them, “The first one that you should doubt is your professor. You should criticize and then he will, or she will, give you a better sense.” It allows professors to get better when the students ask questions.

A north-south intellectual journey

I left the Dominican Republic to pursue my studies in sociology. After I completed my master’s degree, I taught Latin American history at the Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in México. I returned to the U.S. to complete my PhD and have been at Gettysburg College since 1991, when the Latin American Studies program began. Gettysburg College has offered me the opportunity and financial support to do what I like to do, which is to do research and to teach.

Prof. Emelio Betances, (pictured with the publisher’s proof of his latest book) is the founding director of Latin American Studies—now Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies—and the author of State and Society in the Dominican Republic; The Catholic Church and Power Politics in Latin America; and In Search of Citizenship: Social Movements and Democratization in the Dominican Republic.


Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Fri, 9 Sep 2016

Next on your reading list

In his words: Ben Pontz ’20 and the “essence of experiential learning”

Creating social change: Ty Abdul-Karim ’18

The antidote for ignorance: A liberal arts education?

Share this story: