Cuba summer course seeks study abroad students

IUS Horizon

A new course — Cuba in Transition: A Study Abroad Program — will be taught and led by Cliff Staten, professor of political science and international studies, during summer session 1 in 2012.

The class is a six-week course from June 1 to 18, 2012 —three weeks in the classroom and three weeks traveling in Cuba. The group will also meet up with students from Spring Hill College.

Staten said 14 students have applied for the course and there are still openings. Interviews will be conducted in early October.

Although there are no prerequisites for the course, the interviews will cover what the trip is about, its goals, financial details and any physical concerns.

“There are no course requirements,” Staten said. “However, it would be beneficial if students know a little Spanish.”

Staten said he hopes to have at least 15 students by mid-October.

“The course is designed as an academic study, but I want us to have a good time as well,” he said.

While in Cuba, students will have the opportunity to meet local business managers, as well as government organizations.

They will also be introduced to the culture by visiting museums, local schools, theaters, a bicycle tour through Havana and a mountain hike to visit Fidel Castro’s rebel campsite.

Staten said there were two factors which fell into place for this initial program to come to fruition.

The first was due to the current political situation between the U.S. and Cuba, and the second was his ability to commit to the program.

“Students of my past Latin America political courses always commented and displayed a desire to go,” Staten said.

He said there used to be restrictions in place preventing students from traveling to the country.

“Now, since I resumed teaching full time, I have time to commit to leading the course and the trip,” Staten said.

He said now is a great time to take the trip because President Barack Obama has lowered the student travel restriction and the political climate in Cuba is undergoing a major transition.

“Our goal is to see the economic change which is taking place which will lead to further political changes in the country,” Staten said. “Although it will still remain a communist government, it will have a capitalist economy.”

The cost of the course is $5,200, which includes the round trip airfare, lodging, meals and transportation.