Cuba-U.S. Relations have been complex: sometimes intimate, and sometimes fraught, for more than a century. With the end of more than a half-century of estrangement and hostility, these two very different nations are getting to know each other once again. They have much to learn, and to unlearn. This special travel seminar will give GMU students an unparalleled opportunity to see this relationship in transition, and to see changes on the ground in Cuba. While we will spend some time on the past, and speculate some on the future, our main focus will be on the present—the political, social, and economic situation in Cuba, and the current state of Cuba-U.S. relations. Lectures, meetings, directed reading and conversation will fill the students’ days. The week will be intense, and students should expect compressed and concentrated learning.
For decades, it was almost impossible for Americans to visit Cuba. The country has been a “black box” to most Americans for over half a century; that is, since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and the US and Cuba severed relations in 1962. Located only 90 miles from Florida, Cuba has been viewed with fear, hostility, and curiosity. Change finally began albeit slowly when President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro worked to reestablish diplomatic relations. But that détente is now sliding away, and there are signs that a deep chill may be pulling the countries back to policies of old.
To understand U.S.-Cuban Relations, as well as to understand pre-revolutionary Cuba, one must begin with the near diaspora. Our seminar will begin in Miami, FL with a day of meetings and site visits. From Miami, the group will make the short flight over the Florida state, to the island nation that feels a world away.
Be a witness to history. Meet private entrepreneurs, academics, local leaders, and artists. See community neighborhood centers, grassroots projects, and sustainable farming initiatives. See rural medical clinics and religious centers, watch Orisha and Santeria combine African spirit worship with traditional Catholicism. Learn about the 2-currency system, rationing, and new trade opportunities. Visit UNESCO World Heritage sites and other culturally significant places.
This special seminar is intended to give students the opportunity to look inside the black box: to study Cuba’s current economic and political system, see changes first-hand, and to identify opportunities for growth and development. The seminar will run from March 98th to March 13th, during GMU's Spring Break.
The Cuba class, ITRN 702 or GOVT 398, is a Spring semester 2021 course. Participants can use Spring financial aid for payment.
Sponsored by the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government
- ITRN 702: Special Topics in International Commerce and Policy: Study Abroad
Participants will be registered for the course during the Fall 2018 semester.
This program is open to all students including students who do not attend George Mason University.
March 9 - March 15, 2020
* Dates and itinerary subject to change. The Global Education Office reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, and/or any other unforeseen circumstances.
||Individual arrival to Florida (flight not included), Check into hotel (included)
Classes in Miami
Evening Free: Group Dinner
||Group flight to Havana, Cuba
Visit Plaza de la Revolucion, Group Lunch (Topic: Cuba's history... a sail or anchor?)
Check into hotel
Afternoon: Cuban Experts from University of Havana to lecture at hotel
Evening: Dinner with Rena Perez, an 80-year old American who has lived in Cuba since the revolution
||Embassy briefing (Topic: US-Cuba Relations)
Visit to a tech start-up and meet Ariel Causa who started A La Mesa (Topic: Entrepreneurialism in Cuba)
Organic farm visit (Topic: Sustainability and Security)
Univ of Havana, Visit and lectures (Topic: Political, Social, and Economic Situation in Cuba)
||Cigar factory visit (Topic: Trade)
Old Havana tour
Cojimar, lunch, Visit to Finca Vigia
||Las Terrazas- Visit a planned community, medical center, ration station, and school)
Fusterlandia- Visit a community development project
Farewell Evening activity- Buena Visa Social Club (location in old Havana) dinner and show
||Morning: Wrap-up Session
Free time in Havana
Group flight from Havana to Florida
||Hotel is NOT included for March 13, 2021. Flight delays are common in Cuba,
so please book your return flight from FL the latest possible or the following day.
Spring Break 2021: $4,650 (tuition included).
Students on MasonGEO programs must pay the advertised program cost in order to participate. This cost will be made in three payments (Deposit + First Payment + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments.
A non-refundable program deposit $200 must be received by the application deadline. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee.
A non-refundable payment of $1000 must be received by November 20.
Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.
In the event that a student’s financial aid or VA Benefits is estimated to cover the entire costs of the study abroad program, the entire charge will be posted to their student account, since that is where the aid will be applied. In this case students do not pay their first payment through MasonAbroad. However students must submit their “Intent to Use Financial Aid” form by the first deposit deadline.
Final Payment: The final balance payment is due by December 10.
This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $1200 you've already paid (Deposit + First Payment). Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.
Financial Aid and VA Benefits: Students who intend to use financial aid or their VA benefits to fund their program fees (partially or in full) must have the "Intent to Use Financial Aid" or "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form" completed and on file with the Global Education Office by the First Payment deadline. The "Intent to Use Financial Aid" form is available in the MasonAbroad application system once you have started your application for this program. If you are using VA Benefits please contact your program officer to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form."
Withdrawal and Refund Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Withdrawal and Refund Policy.
For more information on payments, financial aid, and information for non-Mason students:
Tuition (3 credits)
- Round-trip airfare from Miami including fuel surcharges & taxes
- U.S. Treasury Department general license/Travel Affidavit and letter of authorization
- Cuba Entrance Visa
- All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
- 1st night accommodation at the Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing
- Most meals
- In-country travel to all program activities
- Cultural excursions and site visits
- Professional, English-speaking local faculty member, who will facilitate the educational exchange
- International Emergency Insurance
- Passport fees
- Transportation to Miami
- Some meals
- Expenditure for items of personal nature (laundry, telephone, internet fees, etc.)
- Gratuities for bus drivers and hotel maid service