Cuba: Culture & Society

  • Painted wall with Cuban flag and text

About This Program

Summer 2016

  • Application deadline: March 1
  • IPD study abroad fellowship application deadline: March 1
  • Anticipated program dates: Saturday, June 18, 2016 (date of arrival in Miami) - Sunday, August 14, 2016 (date of departure from Havana)

Summer 2016: $10,300

Total fees charged by Northwestern: $7,800, includes: 

  • $5,370 tuition fee covers courses and excursions
  • $1,800 housing fee covers lodging in a local guesthouse, accommodations during excursions, breakfast daily, and four lunches or dinners per week
  • $550 round trip airfare from Miami to Havana
  • $80 for HTH Worldwide Health Insurance
  • $0 Study Abroad Administrative Fee

Estimated additional costs: $2,500 includes:

  • $500 round trip airfare to Miami (students book their own airfare; rates vary)
  • $200 for books and supplies
  • $1,800 for discretionary expenses, including meals, transportation, personal expenses, and incidentals

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD study abroad scholarships and may be eligible for external funding opportunities

Students participating in this program are subject to the Withdrawal and Refund Policies for Northwestern-Sponsored Programs.


The Cuba: Culture & Society program exposes students to the unique relationship between the United States and Cuba, the effects of political transition on society, and a rich culture that has influenced music, art, and literature around the world. The program focuses on Cuban social transformation, with an emphasis on race, gender, and the influence of globalization, through the study of theatre, literature and cinema. The program combines study and various site visits to cultural and historic places in Havana and surrounding areas. All courses are taught in Spanish, and students must demonstrate two years of Spanish at the university level (or equivalent) to be eligible for the program.

Host institution

Established in 1976, the Universidad de las Artes (ISA) provides education and training to approximately 800 students in 39 specialties of visual and performing arts. Many of Cuba’s most famous artists and musicians have studied in one of ISA’s five “Facultades,” or Schools of Music, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Dance, and Arts and Audiovisual Communication Media. ISA also facilitates international exchanges with more than 30 universities in Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

Housing & meals

Students will stay in Casa Lilly, a casa particular located within walking distance of the Malecón and the Universidad de la Habana. Students will stay in double or triple rooms, equipped with air conditioning, secure lockers, and private bathrooms. Breakfast and some group meals are included.


This is a Northwestern program with a set curriculum, so students must enroll in the Northwestern courses listed below. All courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcript and are figured into their Northwestern GPA.

SPANISH 215-SA: Introduction to Cuban Culture & Society

This course introduces students to major issues in Cuban society through an examination of recent issues and debates and through the study of recent Cuban cultural production (music, architecture, visual arts).

THEATRE 349-SA-3: Latino Theatre in Context

The goal of this course is to expose students to the rich history and contemporary landscape of Cuban theatrical performance. Conducted in collaboration with Teatro Buendia, Cuba's most celebrated independent theatre company, the course will bring together US and Cuban students and artist/scholars to create a Spanish language workshop production of La Otra Tempestad, a Cuban adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest that offers a metaphorical reflection of the Cuban revolution. Students will participate in lectures, viewing of performances, acting classes, and rehearsal and performance, all while learning about Teatro Buendia's internationally renowned performance techniques, which combine traditional Afro-Cuban ritual, music, masks and stylized movement.

SPANISH 380-SA: Topics in Film: The Silver Screen in Latin America and/or Spain: Cuban Cinema Since 1960

  • Course Instructor: Joel del Rio

This course provides an introduction to Cuban cinema since the early years of the revolution. Students will analyze and compare how issues of gender, race, and class have been presented in classic and more recent films.

SPANISH 395-SA: Special Topics in the Literatures of Latin America and/or Spain: Cuban Literature Since 1960

  • Course Instructor: Margarita Mateo

This seminar will provide an overview of Cuban literature since 1960. The course will explore how Cubans have experienced the complexity of political and economic systems in daily life since 1960 and how this has influenced literary production.


Students will have the opportunity to participate in several guided excursions to famous sites in and around the city of Havana. Possible excursions include trips to Old Havana, Parque Lenín, Maqueta de la Habana, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana, among others. Students will also take a weekend trip to Viñales Valley in Pinar del Río Province, and an extended excursion to Trinidad.