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Cuba: Faculty Led: History, Politics, and Culture of Cuba
Havana, Cuba
Program Terms: Fall,
Spring,
Summer
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Program Description:

Update: The application deadline for the fall semester program in Cuba has been extended until April 20th, 2014!  
(Click Apply Now to start your application)

History, Politics, and Culture of Cuba

Havana

Program Information | Requirements | Academics | Support Services | Housing | Cost Estimates | Resources

Program Information 

The University at Albany-SUNY offers a unique opportunity to study the history, culture and politics of Cuba, plus intensive Spanish language classes.  Spring and Fall semester programs offer 16 credits, and five-week Summer programs offer 6 credits.  Learn from some of Cuba's leading intellectuals, political figures and cultural icons.  The program includes academic classes combined with experiential learning, cultural experiences, and home stays with Cuban families.  The program is based in Havana, with frequent trips outside the capitol to visit farming and fishing cooperatives, historic sites, environmental projects, and tourist centers.    

Program flyer: Cuba Flyer.jpg

Course descriptions and weekly schedules can be found in the following sections:
 
Please note: YOU MUST BE ENROLLED AS A DEGREE-SEEKING STUDENT AT UALBANY OR ANOTHER SCHOOL TO PARTICIPATE ON THIS PROGRAM!  Otherwise, you will not be able to obtain a visa.  
 

Requirements

2Students should have studied some Spanish prior to the start of the program, either in college or in high school, or have equivalent background.   You must be in good academic standing in order to apply; applications are welcome from students in all majors.  Dr. Hansen will interview students by phone as part of the application process.   

Because of restrictions under the US embargo of Cuba, the Office of International Education at UAlbany must provide a letter to the student signed by the on-campus coordinator designated to manage travel to Cuba.  For more information on the nature of travel restrictions to Cuba for US citizens, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers the embargo and the relevant regulations are reproduced below.  

The full regulations are available at http://www.treasury.gov/resourcecenter/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_tr_app.pdf.
 

Academics

The spring program offers 12 credits in history and culture and 4 credits in Spanish for a total of 16 credits.  Please see the below sections for more information on the course descriptions and weekly schedules for the both the summer and semester-length programs.  


Semester-length program course descriptions and weekly schedule: 

Semester course descriptions: Semester weekly schedule:
Cuba Course Descriptions (Semester).pdf   Cuba Weekly Schedule (Semester).pdf
                                              


 

Summer program course descriptions and weekly schedule:

Summer course descriptions: Summer weekly schedule:
Cuba Course Descriptions (Summer).pdf Cuba Weekly Schedule (Summer).pdf






1FACULTY: The program draws on some of Cuba’s most distinguished academics, political leaders and social actors from the Universities of Habana and Pinar del Rio; leading research institutes, including the Centro de Investigación de la Economía Mundial (CIEM), the Instituto de Investigaciones Culturales Juan Marinello, and the Centro de Estudios sobre Desarrollo Cooperativo y Comunitario ; political leaders, including member of the Assembly of People’s Power; non-governmental institutions, including the Martin Luther King Memorial Center; and community leaders from cultural, artistic and religious groups.

 

Dr. Thomas Hansen, an adjunct professor at the University at Albany-SUNY and a full professor at the Autonomous University of Social Movements is the lead professor and program coordinator.  Tom holds a doctorate in Rural Development with a focus on social movements from the Universidad Autónoma  Metropolitana-Xochimilco in Mexico City.  He has 27 years of experience leading educational programs in Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.  The Centro Memorial Martin Luther King coordinates scheduling, ground transportation and housing.  

 

Support Services

The University at Albany hosts an orientation prior to the start of the program, and advisers are available to you at any time.  The staff of CMMLK makes the on-site arrangements. There will be two Cuban Rebellion types of internet access available in Cuba.  At the MLK Center there will be sporadic access in the evenings and on weekends.  It is VERY slow.  You won't be able to access pages with lots of graphics or videos, and you will not be able to access email clients like Yahoo or most university based accounts.  You are encouraged to open a gmail account set to download html format only.

The second type of email access can be found at most of the large tourist hotels.  It costs about $10 an hour but is much faster than that available at the MLK Center.  Depending on the availability of bandwidth on any particular day, you may or may not be able to do things like register for classes or access homepages with lots of bells and whistles.  Skype and chat clients are not available anywhere in Cuba.

Telephone service is readily available to the US at a cost of about US$1.50 per minute, using phone cards that can be purchased in Cuba.  US cell phones do not function in Cuba.
 

Housing

Housing is arranged by the program.  Students live with families in Marianao who are associated with the Martin Luther King Memorial Center.  Marianao is located on the southwest side of Havana, about 20 minutes from the city center.  It is a popular barrio with a large Afro-Cuban population.  Families are carefully screened by the MLK Center, perhaps Cuba’s most important non-governmental organization with a 25 year history of work in Marianao and throughout the island.  Home stays provide students with a unique opportunity to learn firsthand from Cuban families while also improving their Spanish.  Breakfast is eaten with families, while lunch and dinner are prepared at the MLK Center. 
 

Costs

Download an estimate of costs for this program: 

Summer 2014 Cost Estimate:  Cuba Cost Estimate - SU14.pdf
Fall 2014 Cost Estimate:  Cuba Cost Estimate - FA14.pdf

Costs include room, board, round-trip airfare, tuition, and fees, and on-site assistance from the MLKCC.  Students must obtain their own passports and arrange to travel to and from Havana.

Click here for more information on Program Costs and Financial Aid.
 

Resources

Please see the below program description provided to UAlbany by the Centro Memorial Martin Luther King Jr.- 

The University at Albany and the Centro Memorial Martin Luther King Jr. in Havana, Cuba, present: 
History, Culture and Politics of Cuba
A semester-long, 16-credit study abroad program in Cuba

 
Social justice frameworkStreet Art
US students will encounter a reality in Cuba unlike anything they have experienced.  The total absence of commercial advertisements, the existence of mass organizations structured by the State, free universal health care and education, lack of ready access to many consumer goods - all these things, and many more, will quickly turn their worlds upside down.  The social, political and historical realities of Cuba generate many questions, challenge pre-conceived notions, and quickly move students outside their comfort zones, providing the perfect conditions for a unique and rewarding educational experience.
 
 In this context, a social justice framework provides students with a set of paradigmatic questions that are familiar enough to generate energetic questioning, while the Cuban context moves students outside of the debate parameters and political/social discourses that generally mark their experiences in the US.  Among the key social justice questions students confront in Cuba are:

  • Decision-making processes and citizenship rights – democracy vs paternalism, democratic centralism, bureaucracy vs autonomy, role of mass organizations, formal elections vs popular consultations, collective rights vs individual rights, role and meaning of community, roles of leadership with particular focus on hierarchy vs broad-based leadership formation.  What does democracy mean?  What constitutes genuine political participation?  How do political and economic systems impact the integrity of community?
  • Social justice vs wealth production – rights vs responsibilities, market mechanisms vs socialization, material vs moral incentives.  Is wealth creation more important than equity?  What are proper incentives for labor?  Is it possible to build a social consensus around labor norms that are not based solely on wage levels?
  • Race, class, gender and sexual orientation – legal vs cultural rights, inter-relationships among race, class, gender and sexual orientation.  Does the State have the final, or even most important, say on questions of gender and racial equity?  What is the impact of historical legacy on current social relations?   Are race and gender inequalities automatically overcome in a classless society?  What is Cuba’s history regarding issues of sexual orientation and AIDS treatment?
 These questions and contradictions are not simple abstractions.  They manifest themselves in grocery store discussions, at family dinners, in the mainstream media, and in government discourses.   They unfold in a particular historical context impacted by an often contentious relationship with the US government and grounded in nationalism built on foundations of sovereignty, equity and Cuba’s particular brand of Marxism. 
  
Core program
Cuba Vieja
The core program consists of four classes (listed below) integrated in a modular system that utilizes an interdisciplinary 
pedagogy combining theoretical classes with workshops and experiential learning.  Instruction focuses on a distinct theme each week.  Reading materials are drawn from sociology, political science, anthropology, economics, history, literature, and other relevant disciplines.  Students meet for 13 hours of formal academic classes each week organized around discussion of assigned readings.  Two workshops or meetings each week (6 hours) allow students to work directly with Cuban academics, political leaders and social actors.  One or two experiential learning encounters each week (3 to 6 hours) enable students to connect theory with practice.  Experiential workshops may include visits to public schools, medical centers, cooperatives, NGOs, and popular organizations.  Students write two reflections each week: three pages in English or Spanish on the assigned readings for the week, and three pages in Spanish on their experiences during the week.  Students participate in one or two cultural events each week, including Cuba’s world-renowned cinema, dance, music, theater, sports events, etc.
 
Students write two 10-15 page papers each semester.  The mid-term paper is a reflection on some aspect of the theoretical studies during the first half of the semester, with subject matter determined in consultation with professors.  The final paper or project encourages students to begin to think about their re-entry to the US and how they will put their experiences in Cuba to work both academically and socially.  The final project may be a paper, written individually or collectively, or it may involve production of a play or video, development of an educational program for a US audience, production of art, planning a conference, production of a zine, etc., with subject matter determined in consultation with professors.  Students whose final project consists of a performance, presentation, or work or art will also be asked to write a theoretical justification of their project. Both mid-term and final projects are presented in seminar-style format with fifteen minutes for presentation and twenty minutes for discussion/critique by fellow students and professors.
 
Students spend 12 weeks in and around Havana, plus nine days in central Cuba, one weekend in Cardenas, and two days in Pinar del Rio.  Cardenas is near Varadero Beach, where students can witness the impacts of extensive foreign investment in the tourism sector.  Pinar del Rio is one of the most important centers of cigar production and home to some of the island’s most important experiments in cooperative production. 
  
Grading rubric (0 to 4 point system)
Attendance/Class Participation – 25%
Weekly reflections – 25%
Mid-term paper – 25%
Final Project – 25%
  
Accreditation
6The program "History, culture and politics of Cuba" is accredited by the Centro Memorial Martin Luther King, a non-
governmental education center in Havana offering academic programs at the levels of Diplomado (one year or half year graduate program), Bachillerato (rough equivalent of an Associate’s Degree or an advanced college prep program) and Licenciatura (Bachelor’s degree).  The programs of the CMMLK are authorized by the Ministerio de Educacion Superior via the Centro Nacional de Superacion de la Cultura and the Instituto Cubano de Investigaciones Culturales "Juan Marinello."  Official transcripts are issued by the Centro Memorial Martin Luther King. 

Housing
Students live with families in Marianao who are associated with the Martin Luther King Memorial Center.  Marianao is located on the southwest side of Havana, about 20 minutes from the city center.  It is a popular barrio with a large Afro-Cuban population.  Families are carefully screened by the MLK Center, perhaps Cuba’s most important non-governmental organization with a 25 year history of work in Marianao and throughout the island.  Home stays provide students with a unique opportunity to learn firsthand from Cuban families while also improving their Spanish.

Legal issues
Because of restrictions under the US embargo of Cuba, the home institution of each student must accept the program for credit toward an undergraduate or graduate degree, and provide a letter to the student signed by the on-campus staff or professor designated to manage travel to Cuba.  For more information on the nature of travel restrictions to Cuba for US citizens, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers the embargo and the relevant regulations are reproduced below.  The full regulations are available at http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba_tr_app.pdf.
 
More information on how to acquire an educational license to study in Cuba can be found here- Obtaining an educational license to study in Cuba.pdf

In Pictures: Centro Memorial Martin Luther King




Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2014 04/01/2014 
**
Rolling Admission 05/21/2014 06/26/2014
Fall 2014 04/20/2014 
**
Rolling Admission 09/07/2014 12/05/2014
Spring 2015 10/01/2014 10/15/2014 TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed
 
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