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Imagining Cuba: The City, Culture, and Environment in Havana

Imagining Cuba: The City, Culture, and Environment in Havana
Location: 
Havana, Pinar del Río & Viñales, Cuba; Miami, Florida
Language of Instruction: 
English
Term: 
Winter Break
Academic Disciplines: 
Design
Design--Illustration & Animation
Design--Industrial Design
Design--Photo Media
Design--Visual Communication Design
Environmental Studies
Sociology
Program Type: 
Faculty-led
Highlights: 

This program will not be offered in 2018.

  • Experience Cuba at this historically important time
  • Visit historical and culturally significant sites in Havana and Pinar del Río Province
  • Travel through the picturesque rural Cuban landscape
  • Experience the food culture and agricultural history of Cuba
  • Research Cuban design history at The Wolfsonian-FIU Design Museum
  • See contemporary art and architecture in Miami Beach.
  • Receive up to 6 credit hours
  • No language experience required
Program Summary: 

The times they are a-changin’. With President Obama’s December 2014 announcement of renewing relations with Cuba and with the reopening of the U.S. embassy after 54 years, a new era has dawned on the Caribbean island. This small country that played a major role in the Cold War is a shell of its former glory. Everywhere are reminders of its former connections with the U.S. and later with the Soviet Union.

Communism’s collapse drastically altered Cuba in many ways. One of the most visible was how Cuba fed itself. Without cheap Soviet oil Cubans shifted to organic farming and agro-ecology during the “special period”. In Havana we’ll discover that history as well as contemporary food and agricultural system particularly in relationship to the US food system.

Today’s post-Fidel Cuba is a country that wants to rebuild and reconnect with the outside world. In this program we will explore this country on the edge of change.

Activities will highlight Havana’s, as well as Pinar del Río Province’s, uniqueness and character. In Miami we will discover the cultural influence of the Cuban exile community in South Florida. Participants will research how our perceived ideas of Cuba, developed through media (news, books, films, TV, tourism advertising, and propaganda), compare with the reality of place. We will study architecture, design and culture through city tours, an organic farm tour, museum visits, and adventures with locals in both Cuba and Miami.

Location: 

Depart Kansas City for Atlanta: Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Depart Atlanta for Havana: Thursday, December 28, 2017

Depart Havana for Miami: Saturday, January 6, 2018

Depart Miami for Kansas City: Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Havana, Cuba

Intoxicatingly colorful, deeply intriguing, Cuba is a place like no other. The culture of Cuba is a complex mixture of different, often contrasting, factors and influences. Cuba is a meeting point of European, African, Chinese, and continental North American cultures. Since 1959, the Cuban Revolution has also greatly affected Cuban culture, down to the most basic aspects of daily life. Cuba’s capitol and largest city, Havana, is central in any discussion of the island. Founded by the Spanish in the 16th century, today’s Havana has three distinct areas: Old Havava, Vedado, and the city suburbs. Each area has its own distinct style of architecture and urban feel.  

Pinar del Río Province, Cuba

Cuba’s Western-most province, Pinar del Río is an important site of the country’s agriculture industry. Two of Cuba’s primary exports are what we call commodities — tobacco and sugar — in the form of cigars and rum primarily. In Pinar del Río Province, as well as in Havana, we’ll look at the history of those commodities and their role in contemporary Cuba. This region is also known for it’s unique landscape of steep sided limestone hills (called mogotes) and flat, fertile valleys.

Miami, Florida

Nicknamed the ‘Capital of Latin America’, Miami is an American city with a Spanish-speaking majority. 35% of its population is of Cuban origin. Since the early 1960s the Cuban exile community has greatly influenced its art, culture, and politics. The 1980s TV show, ‘Miami Vice’, has been credited with the urban renewal of South Beach’s Art Deco district and the increase in Miami Beach’s ‘coolness’ factor. Recently Miami has seen major projects constructed by the world’s most famous architects and designers. The city is also known for its museums and galleries of Contemporary Art.

Academic Information: 

Design Students and other majors:

  • ADS 532 Design and Culture in Cuba (3 credit hours) REQUIRED
     
    ADS 533 Study Abroad Documentation (3 credit hours) OPTIONAL

Sociology Students and other majors:

  • SOC 495 Study Abroad Advanced Topics In: The City, Culture, and Environment in Havana (3 hours 

Environmental Studies and other majors:

  • EVRN 420 Topics in Environmental Studies: The City, Culture, and Environment in Havana (3 hours)


Prior to traveling, students will be expected to attend presentations and discussions in the fall semester in order to be acquainted the history and culture of Cuba. Students will be given a variety of ‘research’ assignments to prepare prior to travel. Assigned readings and videos to watch will also be included in this prep work.

Course Descriptions

ADS 532 Design and Culture in Cuba, is a studio course in which students will observe, take note and document the architecture, design, art, and culture of Cuba. Prior to departure each student will choose several subjects to research and observe while abroad. Subjects can include anything that is part of everyday life in both cities. Students will document their subjects by collecting images, making sketches and writing observations. A book and exhibition featuring students’ collections will be produced to document this experience.
 
ADS 533 Study Abroad Documentation: This course includes relevant assigned research topics to be completed during the Spring Semester after travel initiates.  Documentation of the travel experience itself will satisfy the rest of the requirements for credit. In a photographic and literary journal of the trip, students will keep notes, reflections and visual information for evaluation by the instructors. Mandatory attendance is required at all scheduled visits during the program.
 
ADS 532 fulfills 3 credits of core requirements for Visual Communications majors, and studio credits for other majors and Schools. ADS 533 fulfills the Study Abroad requirement for Visual Communication majors, and other majors and Schools.

SOC 495 Study Abroad Advanced Topics In: The City, Culture, and Environment in Havana is a course in which students will observe, take notes and document the architecture, design, art, culture, and environment of Cuba. Prior to departure each student will choose several subjects to research and observe while abroad. Students will be assigned films and readings prior to the actual travel abroad. Subjects can include anything that is part of everyday life in Miami and Cuba including, but not limited to the historical role of agriculture particularly sugar and tobacco, contemporary urban and organic agriculture, the politics of revolution, the history of colonialism, and the relationship between the US and Cuba. Students will document their subjects by collecting images, making sketches, and writing observations. A book/photo essay and exhibition featuring students’ collections will be produced to document this experience. 

EVRN 420 Topics in Environmental Studies: The City, Culture, and Environment in Havana  is a course in which students will observe, take notes and document the architecture, design, art, culture, and environment of Cuba. Prior to departure each student will choose several subjects to research and observe while abroad. Students will be assigned films and readings prior to the actual travel abroad. Subjects can include anything that is part of everyday life in Miami and Cuba including, but not limited to the historical role of agriculture particularly sugar and tobacco, contemporary urban and organic agriculture, the politics of revolution, the history of colonialism, and the relationship between the US and Cuba. Students will document their subjects by collecting images, making sketches, and writing observations. A book/photo essay and exhibition featuring students’ collections will be produced to document this experience.

Housing: 

In Cuba, participants will stay in casas particulares (bed and breakfast accommodations in a private home in Havana). In Miami, participants will stay at a hotel in Miami Beach.

Life Abroad: 

Havana, Cuba, December 28, 2017-January 6, 2018
While in Cuba, participants will explore historic sites, and see architecture (Colonial, Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern), participate in cultural activities as well as connect with Cuban designers and students. Participants will explore La Habana Vieja (old Havana), visit the Museo de la Revolución, National Museum of Fine Arts, Museo Napoleonico and Fábrica de Arte Cubano (art center). Participants will also tour mid-century modern architecture sites in Vedado and Miramar  and visit Plaza de la Revolución and Monumento a José Martí. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to visit Ernest Hemingway’s house and the fishing village that inspired “The Old Man and the Sea”.

Pinar del Río Province, Cuba
Participants will visit several rural farming sites and explore the region’s rich natural landscape.

Miami Beach, January 6-10, 2018
Participants will visit The Wolfsonian-FIU (Design Museum),the South Beach Art Deco District and explore Miami Beach.

 

Eligibility: 

Open to all undergraduate or graduate degree-seeking students from any accredited U.S. college or university. Priority will be given to KU design and architecture students. Minimum 2.5 GPA required (exceptions considered after submission of a petition).

Program Faculty: 

Tim Hossler As the former in-house art director for photographer Annie Leibovitz Tim helped Ms. Leibovitz create her most memorable images, books and exhibitions of the late 90’s through the early 2000’s. Tim holds a degree in Architecture from Kansas State University (1993) and a MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art (2005). He was the Director of Design at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) and the Art Director of The Wolfsonian–Florida International University in Miami Beach before coming to KU in 2011. Tim is currently an assistant professor of Visual Communications. In addition to teaching he continues to work with artists, photographers and cultural institutions to create visual narratives. In 2012 he collaborated with British fashion photographer Tim Walker and art director Ruth Ansel to create Walker's book and exhibition Story Teller.

Paul Stock’s primary interests revolve around food, agriculture, sustainability, utopias and morality including work on organic farmers, New Zealand family farmers and the Catholic Worker movement’s farms. He has great interest in creative and inter- and transdisciplinary methods.

For more information contact:

Tim Hossler, Assistant Professor
Visual Communications, Design Department
136 Marvin Studios
hossler@ku.edu

Paul Stock, Assistant Professor
Sociology/Environmental Studies
739 Fraser Hall
paul.stock@ku.edu


Announcements

Deadlines extended for selected Winter Break, Spring Break, and Spring semester-long study abroad programs! See below for full list of programs: 

Programs with Extended Deadlines (PDF)

 

Study Abroad Financial Advising
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