01/17/13 - Duke Chronicle - Duke explores Cuba study abroad program
Administrators are in the early stages of making Cuba an accessible study
In light of loosened government travel restrictions implemented in 2011,
the Global Education Office for Undergraduates has initiated an
exploratory group to consider a study abroad program in Cuba, said
Margaret Riley, director of the GEO and assistant vice provost for
undergraduate global education. The United States has imposed travel
restrictions to Cuba since 1960. Currently, independent travel to Cuba by
Americans remains prohibited, but some students and individuals taking
part in educational and humanitarian tours are allowed to visit the
"[A Cuba study abroad program would] enhance our portfolio and geographic
distribution of our programs," Riley wrote in an email Tuesday.
The program administrators are discussing what would be an expansion of an
existing study abroad program in Cuba through Brown University. The
program would offer students the opportunity to experience life in the
Caribbean country for an extended period of time. In the past, Duke has
conducted programs in Cuba, but this would not be a reactivation of any
In addition to meeting student interest for a program in Cuba, the study
abroad option would also broaden the opportunities offered to students
wishing to study Spanish. Last Fall, Duke only offered one semester-long
international program in Latin America, which took place in Costa Rica.
The other Spanish-speaking semester abroad program was in Madrid.
Duke is collaborating with other high caliber American universities to
discuss the possibility of expanding Brown's program, Riley said. If
realized, the program would follow the same model as the Duke in
Barcelona/Consortium for Advanced Studies in Barcelona program beginning
The Barcelona program was formed as a combined study abroad effort among
several universities who observed that there was growing interest in
Barcelona as a host city for study abroad, yet there were limited program
options for students. These U.S. partners created a consortium to offer
academic study alongside Spanish natives in the area. Administrators hope
to create a similar consortium called the Center for Advanced Studies
Abroad, which would include a program in Cuba.
Brown in Cuba is based in the capital city Havana. Students in the program
are introduced to Cuban culture and everyday life through orientation
programs, and enroll in courses to understand the key issues facing the
country today, according to the program's website. The program centers
upon the social sciences, arts and the humanities.
Joan Clifford, assistant director of the Spanish language program, reached
out to the GEO to offer her full support of a Cuba program after returning
from a recent eight-day trip to the country.
"At various times on my trip, I began to contemplate how enriching a study
abroad experience would be, since I myself was enthusiastic about the
warmth of the people, the rich artistic and intellectual tradition and the
complex political situation," Clifford wrote in an email Wednesday .
Junior Detti Belina, who studied in Madrid Fall 2012, is excited by the
prospect of a Cuba study abroad option.
"Despite the complicated history of Cuban-American relations and concerns
over the nation's socialist government, a study abroad opportunity there
would offer a mind-opening and unique experience to Duke students," Belina
Duke is also participating in exploratory groups in other locations, Riley
noted. One such program could be in Turkey, where Duke would be the lead
institution. In addition, the University could collaborate with Stanford
University on a program in Chile.
Although she is excited that the GEO is taking part in discussions on
enhanced study abroad offerings, Riley said that all programs are in their
early stages and no concrete progress has yet been made for the Cuba
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