The Latin American collections at the Penn Libraries support the University's academic programs, including undergraduate major and minor degrees in Latin American Studies, graduate certificates, and doctoral programs in Anthropology, History, Sociology, Romance Languages, Political Science, and Linguistics, among other departments. Other users of the collection include Music, Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, Religious Studies, Education, Social Work, Communication, Environmental Studies, the interdepartmental program in International Relations, and the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies. As of 2022-2023 there are approximately seventy faculty affiliated with the Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies (CLALS).
Penn was among the nation's first universities to offer courses on Latin American subjects, and through the first decades of the 20th century there was continuing interest in the area, particularly in History, Political Science, and Anthropology. Apart from the strong commitment to archaeological work in Mesoamerica sponsored by the University Museum, Penn's interest in the area declined after World War II, but its importance within the curriculum has rebounded sharply since the 1980s. The numbers of faculty and graduate students working in the area have grown, and major and minor undergraduate programs in Latin American Studies have been implemented. The establishment of Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies in 2021 evidences the increased campus interest and engagement in Latin America.