Students to visit Havana as part of new course at Niagara

Thu, May 12th 2016 11:00 am
Students will meet Cuban government officials as part of a new course at Niagara University. (Courtesy of Niagara University)
Students will meet Cuban government officials as part of a new course at Niagara University. (Courtesy of Niagara University)

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY — A new course on Cuban politics and society at Niagara University includes an intensive two-week research program in Havana and its surrounding areas. The faculty-led, field-based research component of Cuban Politics & Society  will take place from May 16-29.

Niagara professors David Reilly, director of international studies and chair of the political science department, and Chris Lee, associate professor of comparative politics, along with Nicole Gerber, emergency manager for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, are co-teaching the six-credit course and accompanying the 22 students on the trip. The travel itinerary, accommodations and meetings will be coordinated with Spanish Studies Abroad, which has provided unique learning experiences for students since 1969.

While in Cuba, students will have the opportunity to meet with government officials and diplomats, as well as U.S. ambassadors. They will also attend lectures by professors from the University of Havana who are experts in the Cuban economy and U.S.-Cuban relations.

"This is a unique and potentially life-altering opportunity for our students,"  Lee said. "They will be going to a country that they only know about through what has been, for the most part, a Cold War-era sort of narrative. They have a chance to experience, firsthand, a country that has endured decades of a hostile relationship with the U.S., yet is now at what is probably a very important point in their history, as the relationship between Cuba and the United States is revised. Cuba is unlike any other country in the world."

According to the syllabus, the course introduces students to conflict resolution, peacemaking, community building, and dispute management.  

"I am most excited to experience the culture of Cuba and see how Cubans operate, bond and build their community with so few resources. I also want to learn more about their way of life and their views on politics," said student Isis Kay, a native of Liberia. "Also, because I'm majoring in hospitality, I'm interested to hear how the locals feel about the expected rise in tourism to Cuba due to the borders being opened."

The collection and analysis of data will be focused on the demonstration of an understanding of the theories of conflict resolution as they relate to international politics, and a review of policies enacted by the Cuban government to manage disasters and national emergencies.  

"The country is safe, captivating and an excellent location to research political, social and economic change,"  Reilly said.

For more information call 716-286-8088 or email


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