The Island After the Castros (Cuba-U.S. Relations, Trade, Human Rights)
Fall class, Earn 3 credits, ITRN 702 or GOVT 398
Led by Prof Derek Mills and Michal McElwain Malur
Cuba-U.S. Relations have been complex: sometimes intimate, and sometimes fraught, for more than a century. With the end of more than a half-century of estrangement and hostility, these two very different nations are getting to know each other once again. They have much to learn, and to unlearn. This special travel seminar will give GMU students an unparalleled opportunity to see this relationship in transition, and to see changes on the ground in Cuba. While we will spend some time on the past, and speculate some on the future, our main focus will be on the present—the political, social, and economic situation in Cuba, and the current state of Cuba-U.S. relations. Lectures, meetings, directed reading and conversation will fill the students’ days. The week will be intense, and students should expect compressed and concentrated learning.
For decades, it was almost impossible for Americans to visit Cuba. The country has been a “black box” to most Americans for over half a century; that is, since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and the US and Cuba severed relations in 1962. Located only 90 miles from Florida, Cuba has been viewed with fear, hostility, and curiosity. Change finally began albeit slowly when President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro worked to reestablish diplomatic relations. But that détente is now sliding away, and there are signs that a deep chill may be pulling the countries back to policies of old.
To understand U.S.-Cuban Relations, as well as to understand pre-revolutionary Cuba, one must begin with the near diaspora. Our seminar will begin in Miami, FL with a day of meetings and site visits. From Miami, the group will make the short flight over the Florida state, to the island nation that feels a world away.
Be a witness to history. Meet private entrepreneurs, academics, local leaders, and artists. See community neighborhood centers, grassroots projects, and sustainable farming initiatives. See rural medical clinics and religious centers, watch Orisha and Santeria combine African spirit worship with traditional Catholicism. Learn about the 2-currency system, rationing, and new trade opportunities. Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites and other culturally significant places.
This special seminar is intended to give students the opportunity to look inside the black box: to study Cuba’s current economic and political system, see changes first-hand, and to identify opportunities for growth and development. The seminar will run from August 19 - August 25, the week immediately preceding the GMU Fall semester.
The Cuba class, ITRN 702 or GOVT 398, is a fall semester 2018 course. Participants can use fall financial aid for payment.
$4,600 (includes 3 credits tuition, shared accommodation, most meals, and group flight to Havana and return from Florida).
Sunday, August 19, 2018
Individual arrival to Florida, Check-in
Evening: Class and Group Dinner
Monday, August 20, 2018-
Classes in Miami
Evening Free: Dinner on your own
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Group flight to Havana, Cuba
Visit Plaza de la Revolucion, Group Lunch (Topic: Cuba's history... a sail or anchor?)
Check into hotel
Afternoon: Cuban Experts from University of Havana to lecture at hotel (Topics relating to trade and investment, development, security, and global health)
Evening: Dinner with Rena Perez, an 80-year old American who has lived in Cuba since the revolution
Ariel Causa - entrepreneur and young Cuban who has started A La Mesa, the Cuban version of Yelp and Open Table combined
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Embassy briefing (Topic: US-Cuba Relations)
Visit to a tech start-up and meet Ariel Causa who started A La Mesa (Topic: Entrepreneurialism in Cuba)
Organic farm visit (Topic: Sustainability and Security)
Univ of Havana, Visit and lectures (Topic: Political, Social, and Economic Situation in Cuba)
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Cigar factory visit (Topic: Trade)
Old Havana tour
Cojimar, lunch, Visit to Finca Vigia
Friday, August 24, 2018
Las Terrazas- Visit a planned community, medical center, ration station, and school)
Fusterlandia- Visit a community development project
Farewell Evening activity- Buena Visa Social Club (location in old Havana) dinner and show
Saturday, August 25, 2018
Morning: Wrap-up Session
Free time in Havana
Group flight from Havana to Florida
Please Note: Hotel is NOT included for Saturday, Aug 25, 2018. Flight delays are common in Cuba, so please book your return flight from FL the latest possible or the following day.