Rutgers was one of 12 universities selected to participate in the IIE International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) on Cuba. The IAPP provides participating universities a unique opportunity to learn more about the Cuban higher education system. Through the IAPP, Rutgers has already successfully created long-term plans for research collaborations, faculty and scholar exchanges, and comprehensive educational programs with Myanmar, Brazil, and India.

Engagement with Cuba is a natural extension of Rutgers’ strategic plan for continued campus internationalization. Several dozen faculty have already visited Cuba and in some cases initiated research activities and academic exchanges. Last year, Rutgers students participated in a service-learning abroad program to Havana to learn about the Cuban health system. With the rationalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, we are growing Rutgers’ ties to a range of institutions in Cuba. These partnerships can include opportunities such as continued service-learning abroad programs, student and faculty exchanges, dual degree joint sponsoring of seminars in specific topics, and collaborative research on critical global topics.

The GAIA Centers have convened a multidisciplinary, university-wide faculty committee, chaired by Professor Kathleen López of the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies, to plan and coordinate strategic research and programmatic initiatives on Cuba, and it is the first centralized committee for Cuban engagement. However, faculty from a wide variety of departments and units across the university are already actively engaged with Cuba through long-standing research projects with Cuban scholars or through course curricula, including: the Department of Latino and Hispanic and Caribbean Studies, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Rutgers–Newark, the Department of Foreign Languages at Rutgers–Camden, the Graduate Department of Public Policy and Administration, RBHS, SEBS, the School of Law at Rutgers–Newark, Rutgers Health Services, anthropology, art history, economics, English, history, management and labor relations, political science, public planning and policy, and sociology. The GAIA Centers will inventory committee members and compile a record of Cuba-related activities across the university.

Rutgers won’t just work from campus. Representatives will travel to Cuba to begin to develop a long-term strategic action plan for academic partnerships, the first taking place in October 2015, when Professor Kathleen López and GAIA Centers staff will visit Cuba for the university’s first official Rutgers-Cuba study tour.

Other schools that comprise the IIE IAPP Cuba cohort include: Associated Colleges of the Midwest; Central Washington University; Indiana University; Lehman College, CUNY; Oberlin College; SUNY New Paltz; University of Arizona; University of Nebraska-Lincoln; University of Tampa; Virginia Commonwealth University; and West Texas A&M University.

Rick Lee
Director, Global Programs and Relations, September 12, 2015

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