Why American academics are building ties with Cuba

University of Havana. Desmond Boylan/Reuters

August 17, 2015 | The thawing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba will be good for people on the island and in America – and that includes students and academics.

American universities, such as Indiana University, where I serve as dean emeritus and professor of educational leadership and policy studies in the School of Education, are increasingly seeking linkages with Cubans and Cuban educational institutions. The Institute for International Education Open Doors Data show that in 2010-2011 there were 375 US students studying in Cuba. By 2012-2013, the most recent year reported, that number had grown more than fourfold to 1,633.

A history of success

Indiana University has a long history of engagement with developing nations including Vietnam, Macedonia, Angola, Kyrqyzstan, Indonesia, South Sudan and many others.

Before the opening of China, for example, Indiana University established a partnership with Zhejiang University . Today, Zhejiang is one of China’s top 10 universities and routinely sends undergraduate and graduate students to study on our Bloomington campus. Each summer we offer a select group of undergraduate students the opportunity to spend a month learning about American culture and heritage while considering their prospects for graduate study. This experience has taught us that such partnerships are an effective way to dispel misconceptions and establish longtime, mutually beneficial partnerships.

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