Cuba, the U.S., and New Possibilities for Geographic Education

Authors: John Finn*, Christopher Newport University
Topics: Geography Education, Latin America
Keywords: Cuba, Study Abroad, Educational Travel, Geographic Education
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


On December 17, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro gave near-simultaneous press conferences in Washington, D.C. and Havana, respectively, in which they announced what would quickly become the most significant changes to U.S.-Cuba relations in over 50 years. While the changes involved prisoner swaps, terrorism, formal diplomatic relations, and more, from the perspective of most Americans, the most immediate and visible change has been the eased restrictions on travel to Cuba. As a result, Cuba is quickly becoming a popular destination for educational travel (Americans are still prohibited from traveling to Cuba for tourism). Following this trend, over the last two years I have led three educational trips to Cuba in collaboration with the National Council for Geographic Education and the Virginia Geographic Alliance. In this paper I will: 1) explore the pedagogical and logistical challenges of educational travel to Cuba; 2) provide an overview of the most recent Cuba field study, emphasizing the potential of this (and similar) trips for geographic education; and 3) examine the implications of the Trump administration for future U.S. educational travel to Cuba.

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