ACM is one of 12 higher education institutions in the U.S. that sent representatives to Cuba on October 24-31 to learn more about the current state of higher education in the country and to explore potential partnership opportunities with Cuban universities and educational organizations.
The trip, sponsored by the Institute of International Education (IIE), was part of an IIE initiative seeking to reinvigorate higher education engagement between the U.S. and Cuba in light of the opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Emily Gaul (right) and Harmony DeFazio (University of Arizona) at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.
Assistant Program Manager Emily Gaul, who works with consortial off-campus study programs in Botswana, China, India, Jordan, Tanzania, and the U.S., represented ACM. She was one of 30 college and university representatives traveling with IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman and members of the International Academic Partnership Program Advisory Board.
The delegation spent several days in Havana before traveling to other parts of Cuba. The itinerary included visits to universities and educational organizations, tours, cultural events, and meetings with officials from Cuba, the U.S., and the European Union.
“We found a lot of interest in faculty exchanges at the institutions we visited,” said Gaul. “Most of the people I spoke with emphasized sustainability and environmental issues as areas they want to learn more about from visiting professors from the U.S.”
The delegation included representatives from Central Washington University, Indiana University, Lehman College of CUNY, Oberlin College, Rutgers University, SUNY New Paltz, University of Arizona, Montclair State University, University of Tampa, Virginia Commonwealth University, and West Texas A&M.
“This trip provided an exciting opportunity for ACM to get in on the ground floor of cultivating partnerships with universities and other institutions in Cuba for off-campus study and faculty exchanges,” said Joan Gillespie, ACM Vice President and Director of Off-Campus Study Programs. “We are following up by working on a strategic planning process outlined by IIE and beginning to assess potential connections and programs in Cuba.”
“On at least five ACM campuses, faculty members have led groups of students to Cuba for off-campus study in a variety of disciplines,” Gillespie noted, “so any consortial efforts that grow out of this IIE trip have a foundation of interest and experience at our member colleges to build on.”
According to Goodman, IIE has seen strong interest among Cuban educators for partnerships with U.S. colleges and universities. “The reestablishment of relations between the United States and Cuba paves the way for student and faculty exchange in both directions and allows for joint research that will benefit both of our societies and the world we share,” he said.
Instituto Superior de Arte (Higher Institute of Art), above left, and Universidad de La Habana (University of Havana), two of the institutions on the delegation’s itinerary.
All photos courtesy of Emily Gaul
The Institute of International Education is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,400 member institutions.