Berkeley Summer Abroad

Havana, Cuba: Field Study of the Cuban Landscape: Power, Production, and Promise

  • Summary

    Explore the geographical and historical transformation of Cuba from colonial times to the present day.

    Live and study in Havana, with excursions and shorter stays in Viñales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and Matanzas
    Engage in field research focusing on Cuba’s past and present export industries (shipping, sugar, tobacco, tourism, medical services) and the cultural landscapes they have shaped
    Examine representations of Cuba as a place, by Cubans and outsiders, through art, music, and film


    Dates: July 11 – August 5, 2017

    Units: 6 units

    Language of Instruction: English

    Courses: Geography 100: Field Study of Cuba: Landscapes of Power, Production, and Promise



    • At least one year of college coursework completed by the start of the program
    • 2.0 GPA or higher



    • Application opens February 1, 2017
    • Space is limited and applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis
    • Deadline to apply is March 10, 2017
  • Courses

    During the program, you will take one course for a total of 6 Berkeley units.

    Course: Geography 100
    Title: Field Study of Cuba: Landscapes of Power, Production, and Promise
    Dates: July 11 – August 5, 2017
    Instructor: Elizabeth Vasile, Ph.D.
    Units: 6 units
    Prerequisites: None
    Syllabus: PDF

    This is a field course in the cultural geography tradition. Using the landscape as our reference and organizing framework, and the field as our classroom, we will explore the historical transformation of Cuban cities, towns, and countryside from colonial times up to the present. We focus our exploration through two particular perspectives. First, we pay special attention to production in key sectors of the Cuban economy at different historical moments, and examine the ways their attendant forms of labor, ownership, technology, and trade have shaped the cultural landscape. The other major point of reference for this course is representations of Cuba as a place: what has Cuba stood for over time, to Cubans and to outsiders, and how have these stories played out in the forms and functions of the Cuban landscape?

    This course satisfies the L&S International Studies breadth requirement. Please note that academic requirements may change. Consult with your college/major advisor to see which degree requirements this course may fulfill.

    Summer Abroad staff will enroll you in courses after your acceptance to the program. Please make sure there are no active blocks on your student account that may impact your course enrollment.

  • Costs

    Tuition and Program Fee

    The fees to participate in this program are broken down into 1) tuition and 2) program fees, which are applied to your student billing account as follows:

    2017 Fees UC Students Visiting Students
    Tuition (6 units) $2,460 $3,120
    Program Fee $2,558 $2,558
    Total Cost $5,018 $5,678
    Fees are subject to change. All non-Berkeley students must pay an additional Document Management Fee of $55.


    Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses

    In addition to the fees outlined above, Berkeley Study Abroad has estimated costs for out-of-pocket expenses. These amounts are used to calculate financial aid packages for eligible students. Actual expenses will vary depending on your lifestyle and spending habits.

    Estimated Expenses Amount
    International Airfare and Transportation $400
    Additional Meals $494
    Books $312
    Personal Expenses (i.e. phone, passport, visa, etc.) $606
    Total Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses $1,812


    Financial Aid

    Financial aid is available for UC Berkeley students who are enrolled in at least 6 units during the summer. All other students should contact the financial aid office at their home institution for more information.


    Explanation of Fees

    Tuition is based on a per unit cost: 

    • The UC undergraduate student rate is $410 per unit
    • The visiting student rate for all non-UC participants is $520 per unit

    The program fee includes the following items:

    • Student housing and some meals
    • Program Excursions
    • On-site orientation activities including an introduction to Cuba
    • Travel insurance to cover accident/sickness medical coverage, emergency medical evacuation, security extraction, and other travel assistance services
    • Other program-related costs including fees for tour guides, guest lecturers, classroom space, etc.
    • The initial non-refundable deposit of $400, which is due at the time of application and is applied to the program fee

    Please note that the list of items included in the program fee is not all-inclusive and is subject to change.

    The following items are excluded from the program fee:

    • International airfare
    • Personal expenses (souvenirs, routine medical expenses, toiletries, etc.)
    • Course materials (textbooks and readers)
    • Other travel expenses (passport, visa, etc.)
    • Additional meals
    • Commuting costs for daily travel to and from classes


  • Timeline
    Application opens February 1, 2017
    Application closes March 10, 2017
    Applicants notified of selection March 22, 2017
    Deadline to confirm participation or cancel for a refund of all program-related fees, minus $400 deposit April 3, 2017
    Attend pre-departure orientation* Late April-May
    Arrive in Havana July 11, 2017
    Last day of program August 5, 2017

    * These events take place on the Berkeley campus. If you are not on campus during this time, we will schedule a meeting via phone or Skype.

    All dates are subject to change.

  • Instructors

    Elizabeth Vasile, Ph.D.
    Program Director
    Email: evasile@berkeley.edu

    Elizabeth Vasile is a human geographer with interests in the transformations of urban space and in historical geographies of migration and transnational exchange. Regionally, her interests span across North Africa/Southern Europe and Latin America, with a particular focus on the Mediterranean and the Caribbean as zones of hybridity and emergence. Working as an academic and applied researcher on long and short-term field studies in Tunisia, Mexico, and California, she has used methods of ethnographic observation and landscape interpretation to explore changes in the built environment, cultural identities, and the relationship of people to land and resources. Since 2012, she has led a variety of educational travel programs to Cuba, and she gives field lectures in Spanish on the history of San Francisco and the Bay Area for visitors from Latin America. At Berkeley, she serves as executive director of an interdisciplinary social science research center. Elizabeth earned a Ph.D. in geography from Berkeley, where she wrote a dissertation on informal urban settlements on the periphery of Tunis, based on two years of field research in Tunisia and France.