One of the longest running socialist experiments in history, Cuba is at a critical crossroad. Cuba’s political and economic spheres have long been subjects of interest and debate providing fertile ground for exciting academic inquiry. Havana, the captial city, was founded nearly 500 years ago, and due to its location, became a center of ship-building in the Caribbean and a strategic stopping point in the Spanish colonial empire. Today it is a sprawling metropolis, home to 2 million residents, and a mix of European, Latin, and American influences. Historic Old Havana, with its diverse architectural styles, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad's (CASA) program in Cuba is a collaborative initiative involving seven U.S. universities: Brown, Columbia,
Cornell, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, and the University of Pennsylvania. CASA-Cuba provides students with a unique opportunity to have direct access to Cuba’s leading institution of higher learning, the University of Havana, and to Casa de Las Américas, the Cuban government’s premier research institution – since its founding in 1959 – on Caribbean and Latin American studies, Cuban culture and the arts.
CASA-Cuba, the University of Havana and Casa de Las Américas have worked together to develop a program of study that will challenge you to achieve a critical understanding of the key issues facing Cuba today and enable you to interact with some of the country’s leading academic experts in the social sciences, arts and the humanities. You will immerse yourself in Cuba, taking in credit-bearing lectures from recognized experts in Spanish on key issues facing the country and interacting with peers who share your intellectual curiosity about Cuba’s past, present and future. Your courses will be complemented throughout the semester with special seminars and guest lectures by respected experts from other key research centers, including the Centro de Estudios Demográficos (CEDEM), Cuba’s premier research organization focusing on demographic studies and social research, the Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana and the Centro de Investigación de la Cultura Cubana Juan Marinello. In addition, interested students will be encouraged to carry out focused research projects that will engage them with recognized Cuban experts in given disciplines and connect them with local archives, museums, and key cultural organizations.
Here is the Handbook for the Spring 2016 Semester: Cuba: Handbook
- Must be a currently enrolled undergraduate student and in good academic standing.
- Must have completed the equivalent of at least five semesters of college-level Spanish, more is preferred.
- Minimum 3.0 average language GPA
- Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
The program begins with a one-week on-site orientation that introduces students to the city of Havana, as seen through pre- and post-revolution lenses. This orientation helps students understand basic social, political, and cross-cultural elements that inform everyday life in the city. Visits to different parts of Havana orient students to the city's geography. Additional excursions beyond the city are integrated into the academic calendar.
Students will have an opportunity to enroll in up to four
courses taught in Spanish. The coursework will be a combination of courses offered through Casa de Las Américas and direct-enrollment courses through the University of Havana. Courses will be delivered by a group of carefully selected faculty, recognized experts from Casa de las Americas and the University of Havana. Individual courses will meet for 60 hours per semester. In addition to the academic program, the Cuba study center will arrange special topics-based lectures, exhibitions, recitals, and local field visits to expose students to the tremendous cultural mosaic of the country.
Courses Offered through CASA
CASA-delivered courses are taught by a group of carefully selected faculty, including CASA’s Academic Director in Cuba, recognized experts from Casa de Las Américas and faculty from the University of Havana. Each course meets for a total of 60 hours, which at Columbia means the below courses would be 4 points each. Brown University's Cuba website has course descriptions for the CASA courses
. Courses taught in the past have included:
University of Havana Courses
- Gender, Race, and Inequalities in Cuba: Visions from Cuban Scholars (4 pts)
- Cuban Public Health Past and Present (4 pts)
- Cultural History of Cuba (4 pts)
- The Imagined Island: Cuban Cinema (4 pts)
- Slavery: Manifestations of its Legacy in Contemporary Cuban Society (4 pts)
- The Culture of Transition (4 pts)
Students can choose from courses in literature, the arts, Afro-Caribbean studies and music at the University of Havana’s Faculty of Arts and Letters, or courses in Cuban history, philosophy and religion, political sociology, and Latin American thought through the Faculty of Philosophy and History.
University of Havana courses usually vary in length from 45 to 65 contact hours, with 45 contact hours generally counting for 3 Columbia points and 60+ contact hours counting for 4 Columbia points.
Below are PDFs which list courses that are offered at the University of Havana. Please note that courses may change.
NOTE: The academic calendar below is an approximation. Specific dates may vary and will be confirmed upon admission to the program.
- January 16th: Student cohort meets up in Miami, Florida (Arrive at hotel by 3 p.m. as there will be a welcome dinner that evening-hotel to be determined). Students are responsible for making their own domestic flight reservations from their home to Miami, and for transportation to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Miami. The student will be expected to pay for his/her ticket.
- January 18th: Group departs Miami for Havana, Cuba. Group travel arrangements from Miami to Havana are made by the OIP through a travel agency specializing in travel to Cuba.
- January 19th - 22nd: Orientation conducted by CASA-Cuba and Casa de las Américas
- January 25-February 1: (Approximate date) CASA classes and University of Havana classes begin
- April 16-23rd: Spring break, week-long trip to Oriente
- May 6: End of CASA lectures
- May 9 - May 13th: Finals week for all courses
- May 14th: Program officially ends; students depart as a group from Havana to Miami. Students are responsible for making their own domestic flight reservations from Miami to their homes. The student will be expected to pay for his/her ticket home.
General Fall Timeline (subject to change for Fall 2017):
End of August: Student cohort meets up in Miami, Florida. Students are responsible for making their own domestic flight reservations from their home to Miami, and for transportation to the hotel. The student will be expected to pay for his/her ticket.
- End of August: Group departs Miami for Havana, Cuba. Group travel arrangements from Miami to Havana are made by the OIP through a travel agency specializing in travel to Cuba.
- End of August - early September: Orientation conducted by CASA-Cuba and Casa de las Américas
- Early September: CASA classes and University of Havana classes begin
- Mid-October: mid-term break, week-long trip to Oriente
- Early December: End of CASA lectures
- Early December - Mid-December: Finals week for all courses
- Mid-December: Program officially ends; students depart as a group from Havana to Miami. Students are responsible for making their own domestic flight reservations from Miami to their homes. The student will be expected to pay for his/her ticket home.
Students share living accommodations in one of two residences: the Casa de Las Americas guest residence and the Residencia Paseo Habana. Both are safe, clean, and secure residences located in the Vedado district, within walking distance to Casa de Las Americas and the University of Havana. Students share ample rooms that are air-conditioned, with modern toilets and showers, and are provided with breakfast and dinner each day. Washing machines are located on the premises of both residences. Bottled water is provided.
Columbia students pay regular Columbia tuition. Financial aid may be applied to study overseas.
For Spring 2016 students will pay an estimated $4800 program fee to the Office of Global Programs which includes housing costs while in Cuba. This fee also covers breakfast and dinner in the accommodations.
Flight from Miami to Cuba:
The program organizes a chartered flight from Miami to Cuba for the group. Students will pay the cost to Columbia University, Office of Globa Programs who will in turn pay to the Travel Agency which arranges the flights. This cost is not determined yet, but students should estimate $1,000.
Estimated Additional Costs:
The below costs are paid directly by the student:
- Airfaire from student's home to Miami: Varies
- Partial Board: $600
- Personal expenses (estimate varies according to individual spending habits): $1,000
- Local Transport: $300
- Books: $250
Application deadline for spring 2017: October 15th, 2016
Application deadline for fall 2017: March 15, 2017
The online application includes the following:
- Personal Statement
- Academic Recommendation
- Language Recommendation
- Academic clearance from home school (CC, GS, SEAS)
Office of Global Programs
606 Kent Hall
1140 Amsterdam, Mail Code 3948
New York, NY 10027-6902
In the event of an emergency after office hours, please contact Columbia University Emergency at 212-854-5555 or Columbia University Security at 212-854-2796.