Courses in Havana, Cuba

SOC/PLSC 338 - The History, Society and Politics of Cuba (3 credits)
The course will focus on Cuba as a particular case of colonial and neocolonial domination and as a particular manifestation of Third World national liberation movements that seek transformation of structures of colonial and neocolonial domination. The course includes an experiential component of 40 hours.

The course is taught by Raúl Rodríguez, Professor and Researcher at the Center for U.S. Hemispheric Studies (CEHSEU), a teaching and research center of the University of Havana. He earned a Master’s degree in 1999 in History and International Relations from the Faculty of History and Social Sciences of the University of Havana. He has taken post-graduate courses in Canada, England, and the United States. He is presently a doctoral candidate at the University of Havana. Since 2004, he has taught (with Dr. Rosa López of CEHSEU) a course on Cuban history, politics, and society in the programs in Cuba of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an undergraduate student, Professor Rodríguez majored in English, and his command of English is excellent.


  • The indigenous culture
  • Colonial and neocolonial domination in Cuba, 1511 to 1959
    • Gold and indigenous slavery
    • Sugar and African slavery
    • Tobacco, the role of middle class farmers, and the manufacture of tobacco products
    • Coffee and slavery
    • The possibilities for autonomous economic development established by tobacco and by the city of Havana as a port city
    • The deepening of the peripheral role through the expansion of sugar production during the 19th century
    • U.S. intervention, 1898-1902
    • Structures of economic, political, and cultural domination during the neocolonial republic, 1902-1959
  • The struggle for national liberation in Cuba, 1868-1958
    • The emergence of Cuban identity and nationality, 1790-1830
    • The First War of Independence and its contradictions, 1868-78
    • The emergence of a popular revolutionary movement, 1878-95
      • The life and thought of José Martí (1853-1895)
      • The vision of a new Cuban society, unifying diverse ethnic groups and classes
      • The vision of an alternative role in the world economy for Cuba and for Latin America
    • The Second War of Independence, 1895-98
    • The renewal of the revolutionary movement in the 1920s and 1930s
    • The revolutionary wave of the 1950s, culminating in the triumph of the revolution
  • The revolutionary reconstruction of Cuban society, 1959 to the present
    • Alternative perspectives and methods in education, health, and sport, and their gains
    • The redefinition of the role of the mass media and of journalism in society
    • The development of an alternative political process with structures of mass participation
    • The Special Period: Challenges and gains
    • The Battle of Ideas and the role of Cuba in current global movements
  • The Cuban counterrevolution

PLSC 339 - U.S.-Cuban Relations: Historical Perspective and Contemporary Reality (3 credits)

The objective of the course is to provide the students with an overview of U.S.-Cuban relations from colonial times to the present, in order to describe the main elements toward understanding the new phase of the historical conflict between the two countries that ensue after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and continues unabated until today. The course includes an experiential component of 40 hours.

The course is taught by Dr. Rosa López, Professor at the Center for U.S. Hemispheric Studies (CEHSEU), a teaching and research center of the University of Havana. She has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Havana. She is the co-author of Globalization and Conflict: Cuba-United States (Havana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1999), a book that is widely read in Cuba and is available in Spanish and English. Since 2004, she has taught (with Raúl Rodríguez of CEHSEU) a course on Cuban history, politics, and society in the programs in Cuba of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to earning her doctorate, she served for 10 years as a diplomat at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC. Her command of English is excellent.


Week 1
Cuba's Colonial Period: Geography, Trade, and Strategic Considerations: Cuba in the Geopolitical Thought of U.S. Founding Fathers

Week 2
Cuba's Colonial Period: The Role of Cuba in U.S. Territorial Acquisitions and Early Hemispheric Hegemonic Aspirations

Week 3
Intervention: The Ideology of Extra Continental Expansion: Cuban Independence and U.S. Military Intervention

Week 4
The Republic: The Implementation of a Neo-Colonial Model: Cuba under the Platt Amendment

Week 5
The Republic: Good Neighbor Diplomacy: Cuban Revolutionary Situation in the 1930s and U.S. Political Intervention

Week 6
Prologue to Revolution: A Radical Revolution on the Making: Batista's Dictatorship, U.S. Support and Armed Insurrection

Week 7
The Revolution: The Triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the U.S. Response; The Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis

Week 8
Contemporary Reality: U.S. - Cuban Relations in the Post-Cold War Era

SPAN 201/202 - Intermediate Spanish (6 credits)
SPAN 301/302 - Advanced Spanish Composition and Conversation (6 credits)

The objectives of the courses include the development of the student's capacity: to read, understand, and interpret written Spanish; for oral expression in Spanish, including conversation as well as more formal presentations; to understand the history and culture of Cuba as well as Cuba's relations with the nations and peoples of America and the world; to recognize the historic ties of friendship and culture between Cuba and the country of origin of the student; to appreciate and understand Hispanic culture; and to appreciate the linguistic and cultural diversity of the international society. Students will be placed in one of these courses on the basis of a placement test administered on September 1. The courses are offered by the Spanish Department of the Division of Modern Foreign Languages of the University of Havana. The courses have students from many countries of the world, principally European countries and Canada, in which Spanish is not the native language.

SPAN 442 - Directed Studies in Spanish (3 to 6 credits)
Independent study courses will be developed in response to the interests and needs of students, particularly in relation to requirements in their majors. They are offered as tutorials by professors of the various departments, faculties, and centers of the University of Havana. Independent study courses offered in the past have included International Economics, Cuban Revolutionary Thought, and Modern Political Thought. The offering of the independent study courses is contingent upon the availability of a professor to offer the course.

Courses Taught in Spanish

SPAN 331/332 - Survey of Spanish-American Literature (6 credits)
SPAN 334 -Issues in Latin American (3 credits)
SPAN 458 - Special Topics in Spanish (6 credits)