ATLANTA (December 11, 2015) — When the Obama administration announced in late 2014 the U.S. would ease travel restrictions and re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, the move not only opened the door for American businesses to potentially increase the export of products to Cuba, it also enabled higher education institutions to more actively pursue study travel opportunities.
A year later, Spelman College will take part in its first faculty-led study trip to Havana, Cuba, Dec. 12-18, 2015. Sponsored by the Education Studies Program, the academic tour is in support of the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan, which is designed to enhance student learning with global travel experiences. The Spelman group, comprised of 19 students, one alumna, and two faculty members, will be guided by Global Exchange, an international human rights organization that promotes social, economic and environmental justice around the world.
Andrea Lewis, Ph.D., assistant professor and chair of the Education Studies Program, directs the Cuba initiative. She said the trip complements the EDU 222 Global Education course, which examines the historical, cultural, economic, sociological, philosophical and political understandings of schooling and education from a global perspective.
The majority of the student participants are either Education Studies Program majors or minors – many of whom are preparing for careers as teacher leaders. While in Cuba, the students will visit an elementary school, a performing arts high school, and the site of a home school-learning program to gain insight about Havana’s education system as it intersects with political and cultural structures.
“Although a few Spelman students go to Cuba through our study abroad partners, such as CIEE, this faculty-led program provides another opportunity for a large number of students to reflect on their identity and interact with other Blacks in the Diaspora,” said Dimeji Togunde, Ph.D., associate provost for global education and professor of international studies.
“This study trip is a response to students’ desire to connect with the African Diaspora and enables them to examine critical issues regarding how access and structure of the educational system impact the life chances of people in a global comparative context. The Cuban educational system provides an intriguing, fertile ground for study.”