Campus & Community

Cuba study abroad program to be offered in spring

3 min read

During spring semester 2007, Harvard College students will have the opportunity to spend a semester abroad at the University of Havana, Cuba. Developed by the Harvard College Office of International Programs and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS), the Harvard College Program in Cuba was formed as a result of discussions between Cristina Díaz, vice rector of international relations of the University of Havana, DRCLAS program associate Lorena Barberia, and Vice Provost for International Affairs Jorge I. Domínguez, the Antonio Madero Professor of Mexican and Latin American Politics and Economics. The Harvard College Program in Cuba will thrive on the strengths of the faculty at the University of Havana, as well as build on the network of ties established by the David Rockefeller Center with Cuba’s leading academic institutions and scholars during the past decade.

Founded in 1728, the University of Havana is the largest, oldest, and most highly regarded academic institution in Cuba. It is organized into three divisions – Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences and Economics – and has a total of 15 faculties and 14 research centers. Twenty-five majors are taught at the university and approximately 6,000 degree students are enrolled in regular classes each year. Courses are taught on a semester basis with each period lasting 16 weeks.

The University of Havana is an ideal site for a study abroad program. Havana, the capital of Cuba and a metropolis with 2.2 million residents, is the cultural, educational, and industrial center of the island. Over the past decade, Cuba has become more accessible to American study abroad students as a result of the burgeoning of tourism, primarily driven by Europeans and Canadians, and the brief increase in people-to-people exchanges with the United States from 1998 to 2004.

Harvard students approved for the program will be juniors with at least six semesters of Spanish language training. They will enroll directly in University of Havana courses that are regularly offered to students in Cuba in a program of studies that will be particularly attractive to social sciences concentrators interested in Cuban studies, U.S.-Cuba relations, and Latin American studies. Optional Spanish courses (levels intermediate and higher) will be available to those interested in improving their language skills. Harvard students will be attending classes alongside Cuban students and will also be paired with former DRCLAS visiting scholars for mentoring and guidance.

Students who wish to receive additional information or are interested in applying for admission to this program may obtain materials at the Office of International Programs (OIP), University Hall, or visit The deadline for applications is Oct. 15.