Does Penn sponsor any travel to Cuba?

Dear Benny,
In January, President Obama reduced travel restrictions to Cuba. Part of this easing involved allowing accredited institutions of higher education to sponsor travel to Cuba for course work for academic credit under a general license. I was wondering, does Penn sponsor any travel to Cuba?
-History Will Absolve Me

Dear History,
Penn does, indeed, sponsor a program that travels to Cuba for which students can receive academic credit. In fact, beginning on May 20, Ezekiel Dixon-Román, an assistant professor in the School of Social Policy and Practice, will take eight students to the island for a month-long course called “Education, Culture and Social Policy in Cuba.” The students going on the trip are enrolled in the Master of Social Work and Master of Science in Social Policy programs.

Dixon-Román says the course has a couple of purposes, one of which is to give students an opportunity to spend some time in a Spanish-speaking country and enhance their Spanish-speaking proficiency. “But more importantly,” he says, the trip is designed for them “to be able to learn about the history, and the culture and the evolving social policies that came out of the revolution of 1959 in Cuba.” Much of the course work will deal with the history of the revolution, with a specific focus on its resulting social reforms.

Four of the major tenets of the Cuban revolution of 1959, led by Fidel Castro, were the equalization of resources, the promotion of widespread literacy, the creation of universal health care and access to free, quality education for all.

“Many of the programs and policies that have evolved out of the revolution of 1959 become very interesting with respect to studying social policy, and even social work in particular,” Dixon-Román says.

Under Obama’s reduced travel restrictions, Dixon-Román and the students will be able to fly directly from Miami to Havana.

Originally published on May 19, 2011