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  • Locations: Havana, Cuba; Miami, Florida, United States;
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • Dates / Deadlines
Fact Sheet:
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
Click here for a definition of this term 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 Click here for a definition of this term Study Abroad Host: Schar School of Policy and Government
Open to non-Mason Students: Yes
Program Description:

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

Cuba, Summer 2019

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 August 19th to August 25th, the week immediately preceding the GMU Fall semester.

The Cuba class, ITRN 702 or GOVT 398, is a fall semester 2019 course. Participants can use fall financial aid for payment.
Sponsored by the George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government

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 Dates*

August 19th - August 25th, 2019

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 Sunday, Aug 25, 2019. Flight delays are common in Cuba,
so please book your return flight from FL the latest possible or the following day.
* 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.

Program Cost

Summer 2019: $4,650 (tuition included).

Program Payments

Students on Schar programs must pay the advertised program cost plus an application fee in order to participate. These costs will be made in three payments (Application Fee + Deposit + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments.

Application Fee: All applications must pay the non-refundable application fee of $150. This payment is made through MasonAbroad once you open an application. This fee is not included in the advertised program cost above.Program Deposit: Accepted students must make a non-refundable program deposit of $1000. This fee is paid through the Mason Student Accounts Office. This deposit is included in the program fee.

Final Payment: This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $1000 deposit you've already paid. 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 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 deposit 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 the Global Education Office to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form."

Non-Mason Students: Non-Mason students must be admitted to the University and assigned a student number prior to making payments. Please submit the "Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form" during the application phase in order to begin this process.

Refund and Cancellation Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Refund and Cancellation Policy.

In addition to this, if a student drops out before the deposit is due, his/her account will be charged a $100 application fee. If a student does not drop in writing before the deposit is due, the $1,000 deposit will still be charged. All cancellations must be done in writing to Ms. Michal McElwain Malur. Please make note of these important dates.


  • 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

Application Deadline:

June 1st, 2019

Program Director

Name Michal McElwain Malur

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2019 06/01/2019 ** Rolling Admission 08/19/2019 08/25/2019

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.