The Center for Portuguese Studies at UC Santa Barbara was founded with an endowment from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation to promote and develop studies about the Portuguese speaking world in California and the United States of America. The Center sponsors students and activities related to the Portuguese speaking world.
The Center also supports teaching and degree programs and promotes the study of the literature, language, and cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world. Portuguese is spoken in Brazil (over 200 million speakers), Portugal (over 10 million speakers) and Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor, and Macau (over 45 million speakers). Services and activities include awarding student scholarships and stipends, promoting Portuguese language classes, hosting colloquia, maintaining the Center library, and sponsoring publications.
The Center has received support from various institutions, among which the Instituto Camões, the Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento, the Junta Nacional de Investigação Científica e Tecnológica, the Fundação Oriente, The União Portuguesa do Estado da Califórnia, the Luso-American Education Foundation, and from individuals and alumni. The Center encourages donations from foundations and individuals interested in continuing its mission to promote the study and dissemination of the Portuguese speaking world in the United States and elsewhere.
Portuguese, as aforementioned, is spoken by more than 200 million speakers in the world. It encompasses a diverse and rich corpus of different cultures, literature, art, cinema, music, architecture, and so much more. However, it is considered a "Critical Language" by the United States Government - the only European language designated as such - meaning that Portuguese is understudied in the United States despite playing a pivotal role in global commerce, politics, and culture worldwide. The Center for Portuguese Studies' mission to support students invested in learning the skills necessary to bridge this gap and envision a future where Portuguese plays a vital role in their future careers.