First SIUE Students Set to Visit Cuba’s University of Havana

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville takes its first step in the educational agreement between SIU and the University of Havana (UH) in Cuba during June. SIUE College of Arts and Sciences Associate Deans Larry LaFond, faculty member with expertise in linguistics, and Wendy Shaw, faculty member who focuses on social geography, will lead a group of four students to Havana.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville takes its first step in the educational agreement between SIU and the University of Havana (UH) in Cuba during June. SIUE College of Arts and Sciences Associate Deans Larry LaFond, faculty member with expertise in linguistics, and Wendy Shaw, faculty member who focuses on social geography, will lead a group of four students to Havana.

In addition to the students who are able to visit Cuba, 17 students will take a tandem course online. All 21 students will come together as part of the course to share what they have learned.

Along with two days of lectures at UH and a meeting with the University Students Federation, SIUE students will study interrelated aspects of Cuban culture and history. Various fieldwork sites will be visited including:

    Old Havana and the Morro Castle
    The Museum of the Revolution and the Community Project of the Office of the Historian in San Isidro
    The town of Regia, the Church of the Black Virgin, and the Morro Fortress
    The Cabilda Quisicuaba to learn about Cuba’s Afro-syncretic religions
    The central city of Matanzas, the Pharmacy Museum, and hand-made book publishers
    Santa Clara, explore Revolutionary War memorabilia, and the Che Memorial

CAS Dean Aldemaro Romero’s goal is to demonstrate that a Midwestern university with no apparent connection to Cuba can create a variety of diverse programs to develop academic diplomacy by establishing connections both academically and culturally. Romero has worked vigorously on the project since 2009 to define the cooperative relationship between the universities.

This interdisciplinary studies class allows students to visit Cuba for 10 days and then return to SIUE to complete the course. Romero believes the alliance between the universities will give students a broader world perspective in an ever-growing global economy, while providing faculty with opportunities for the development of new academic initiatives.

The initiative between the University of Havana and SIUE is only the second in the nation – the first being with Harvard University.

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Bethany Behrhorst
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
618-401-1691
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