URI to offer study abroad program in Cuba next spring

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University’s first semester-long program in Caribbean country

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 23, 2015 – The doors to Cuba will open to University of Rhode Island students next spring with a new study abroad program at the Institute of Philosophy in Havana.

Maureen Moakley, political science professor, and Richard McIntyre, an economics professor, have been working behind the scenes for months to create the program, the first study abroad semester in Cuba offered by the University.

“We’re thrilled that we finally worked through the details and are able to offer our students an exciting experience,” says Moakley. “Our students will have a chance to explore a country that is undergoing incredible political, social and economic changes.”

The announcement comes as the United States and Cuba reopen embassies in each other’s capitals, ending a diplomatic freeze between the two Cold War adversaries that lasted more than half a century.

The semester will run from February through April and offer a 15-credit curriculum in classes that include economic development and social movements in Latin America, introduction to Cuban society, politics of Latin America, and political change in the Caribbean. Students will also complete an internship of their choosing that could involve writing, the arts, literature or music.

But it’s not all about academics. The rich and diverse Cuban culture is part of the package. In Havana – in addition to their classroom work – students will attend lectures by artists, diplomats, musicians and journalists and visit museums and other historic sites. In the countryside, students will stop at organic farms and tobacco plantations and participate in community events hosted by villagers.

“We want students to experience not only the political and urban life in Havana, but also be able to interact on a more intimate level with Cubans in smaller communities,” says Moakley. “We feel this is a great way for students to understand the day-to-day realities of Cuban life – and the transitions in Cuban society.”

Students will live in a modern apartment complex in Havana that has a swimming pool and is near neighborhood shops and food markets. Students will get an allowance to buy food to prepare their meals in the apartments’ kitchens.

The program is tailored to students studying economics, Spanish, history, political science, art history, urban studies, Latin American Caribbean studies and international relations.

Cuban professors will teach the classes. They’ll work together with Moakley and McIntyre to create a program that is challenging, compelling and emphasizes URI’s goal of fostering global learning.

Moakley and McIntyre, who studied global economies, have a keen interest in Cuba. They’ve traveled to the country four times, most recently with students on a 10-day trip as part of URI’s J-term sessions during winter break.

That journey, from Jan. 10 through 16, came a few weeks after the United States restored ties with the country, cut short by Fidel Castro in 1961. When they returned, the two took steps to create a semester-long program that would offer a deeper academic experience.

The semester cost for in-state and out-of-state students is $6,400 for tuition and fees. The program fees, including room and board, transportation, day trips throughout the semester, insurance and visa application fees, and round-trip airfare from Miami to Havana is $7,700. Financial aid and scholarship grants are available. Moakley also is pleased to announce that the J-term session in Cuba will be offered again next year.

This fall, two Cuban professors who will be teaching courses in the program, will visit URI for several days to talk to students, faculty and administrators about Cuba and the program.

“This will give students an opportunity to meet with the Cuban professors and ask questions about not only the coursework, but also life in Cuba,” says Moakley. “Events with the professors will be posted, so stay tuned.”

For more details, contact Moakley at 401-874-4055 or email her at moakley@uri.edu, or contact McIntyre at 401-874-4126 or email him at mcintyre@uri.edu. Applications will be available Aug. 1 at the Office of International Education.

Pictured above:

URI students on J-term in front of a portrait of Fidel and Raul Castro at a medical school in Havana.

An apartment complex in Havana where University of Rhode Island students will live during a semester abroad next spring.

URI students on J-term visiting with Cuban artists in a village outside Havana.

Photos courtesy of Maureen Moakley.