Studies & Degrees in Basque Studies

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The Basques refer to an ethnic group primarily living in an area known as the Basque Country. Called vascos in Spanish and basques in French, it is the oldest surviving ethnic group in Europe of unknown origin, and is located around the end west of Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, and sprawls between southwestern France and north-central Spain. The country consists of the Basque Autonomous Community populated by some 2.12 million people, 1.52 million of whom are Spanish and 150,000 French. A devout Roman Catholic in religion, the country has produced prominent figures in the persons of St. Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, and missionaries St. Francis Xavier and Michel Garicoits.

The Basque Country is considered as an important subject of study in many institutions of learning. This is partly because of the unknown origin of its people, including their language Euskara, which has no connection to any language family anywhere in the world. But some descents of the Basque people are said to be the earliest settlers in Western United States and played a key role in the development of some U.S. states such as Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Wyoming and California. The Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, has put up a program of study on the language, culture and history of the Basque people. A minor in its Basque Studies program complements the major field of concentration in the humanities, arts, and social sciences while the program itself completes the study of the Basque Country.

The University of Nevada Reno in Reno, Nevada operates a Center for Basque Studies offering such courses as Modern Basque History, Basque Linguistics, Basque Literature, Basque Culture, Language and Society, Basque Gender Studies, Basque Social and Political Institutions, Basque Diaspora, and Basque in Contemporary European Culture, among others. The University also administers three scholarships for its full-time students of Basque Studies. They are the Dolores Saval Trigero Scholarship, the Peter Echeverria Scholarship, and the Gilbert and Marie Ordoqui Scholarship. The University of Birmingham in Birmingham, United Kingdom offers a Basque Studies program under its Department of Hispanic Studies in Basque modules of Basque Language and Culture, Advanced Basque Language, Basque Society and Culture, and Basque Language Level 2. The University considers the Basque or Euskara language as important because of possibilities for students to have access to ancient culture through the study of the language that is very different.

While the Society of Basque Studies in America supports a Doctoral degree program in Basque Studies at the University of Nevada Reno, focusing on dissertation research rather than instruction in the classroom, the Cenarrusa Foundation of Basque Culture preserves and connects the Basque Community and the outside world through projects and research, and by being involved in the operation of a Basque Studies program at the Idaho’s Boise State University.

The Basque Country itself operates the University of Basque Country in Northern Spain, which maintains campuses in three provinces in Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vittoria-Gasteiz, and offers 78 degree programs, 1,300 subjects of study to some 48,000 students, and using the Basque language in the study of 43% of its courses.