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  • Locations: Havana, Cuba; Miami, Florida, United States;
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction: English Number of Credits Offered: 3
Eligible Population: 02 Sophomore, 03 Junior, 04 Senior, Graduate Type of Program: Faculty-led
Area of Study: Political Philosophy, Public Policy and Management, Government and International Policy, Conflict Analysis and Resolution, American Government, Global Affairs, Integrative Studies, International Business, International Security, International/Comparative Studies Study Abroad Host: Schar School of Policy and Government
Open to non-Mason Students: Yes
Program Description:
US Cuba Relations

The Island After the Castros: Cuba-US Relations, Security, Trade, Human Rights

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 X to X, the week immediately preceding the GMU Fall semester.

The Cuba class, ITRN 702 or GOVT 398, is a fall semester 2018 course. Participants can use fall financial aid for payment.

Program Details

Course offerings

  • GOVT 398: Study Abroad
  • 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.

Program Cost: $4600

  • 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
Not Included:
  • 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

Program Itinerary*

Aug. 19 Individual arrival to Florida (flight not included), Check into hotel (included)
Evening: Class and Group Dinner
Aug. 20 Classes in Miami
Evening Free: Dinner on your own
Aug. 21 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
Aug. 22 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)
Group Lunch
Univ of Havana, Visit and lectures  (Topic: Political, Social, and Economic Situation in Cuba)
Aug. 23 Cigar factory visit (Topic: Trade)
Old Havana tour
Cojimar, lunch, Visit to Finca Vigia
Aug. 24 Las Terrazas- Visit a planned community, medical center, ration station, and school)
Group Lunch
Fusterlandia- Visit a community development project
Farewell Evening activity- Buena Visa Social Club (location in old Havana) dinner and show
Aug. 25 Morning: Wrap-up Session
Free time in Havana
Group flight from Havana to Florida
NOTE: Hotel is NOT included for Saturday, Aug 25, 2018. Flight delays are common in Cuba,
so please book your return flight from FL the latest possible or the following day.

*Instructor reserves the right to modify the course schedule as needed

Contact Information

Program Officer

Michal McElwain Malur

Academic Director

Professor Derek Mills

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.