Field Course Title
  • Vintage car driving near white buildings
  • Lanscape of lush valley
  • Coastline of Cuba

CHANCE Cuba 2017 Field Course

** Flight Itinerary Updated March 22, 2017 **
Check the Itinerary page to see new flight numbers, departure/arrival times, and layover location.


Participants in this short-term, study abroad program will carry-out pre-trip, online assignments before venturing into the field to learn from local experts and faculty about ongoing Cuban conservation efforts and environmental policies as they explore the biodiversity of select wetlands, mangroves, forests, coral reefs, marine habitats, and limestone caves. While in the field, students will also work in groups to research a specific environmental sustainability issue confronting this developing nation and the world. Many of Cuba’s cultural offerings will be experienced while in the field, including jazz and dance performances, art museums, a walking tour of historical Old Havana, tobacco cigar farms, and meals in paladares (restaurants run in private homes). A conservation-based, service-learning project on nesting sea turtles will also be performed. Post trip assignments include a reflective online assignment, and the creation and presentation of a professional undergraduate research poster.

LEARNING CONNECTIONS: Environmental Policy; Marine Science; Cuba - Environmental Protection; Resource Management; Environmental Sustainability; Cuban Cultural History

BIOL 496* or SUST 495 – Environmental Protection, Conservation, and the Sustainability of Cuban Ecosystems.

During the months of April (late) and May of the Spring 2017 semester, students will engage in online learning opportunities and lessons designed to develop their pre-trip knowledge in the following content areas: the field of conservation biology;  the varied ecosystems in western Cuba; IUCN levels of species extinction; environmental sustainability issues; research that shows how global environmental changes (e.g. in climate, air quality, biodiversity, oceans or soils) are linked to, and underpin, social and economic development; Cuban environmental protection polices and conservation programs; conservation of Cuba’s shared marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean; the history of Cuba and its past and present socioeconomic realities; and, the geography, culture, government, educational system, and people of Cuba.

BIOL 496* or SUST 495 A Field Practicum in Cuba.

This nine day summer practicum runs from July 7 – 15, 2017. Cuba is home to diverse ecosystems, fascinating wildlife, and a rich cultural heritage. On this 9 day expedition to Havana and Western Cuba, students will learn about the diverse ecosystems, fascinating biodiversity, and a rich history and cultural heritage of this developing nation. Students will also learn about Cuba’s present-day conservation efforts and environmental policies from local experts and faculty. As participants progress through the program, students will work in assigned groups (using journaling exercises and reflective dialogues) to research an assigned question related to the environmental sustainability of this developing nation. Highlights for this program include: an in-depth look at the marine conservation programs at Guanahacabibes Biosphere Reserve; an analysis of a self-sustained community, Las Terrazas, named after the reforestation project initiated in 1967; an exploration of  the geologic and terrestrial diversity of Viñales National Park;  snorkeling adventures along select Cuban coastal reefs around the tip of the Guanahacabibes Peninsula; working with nesting, endangered sea turtles to help sustain their populations; meeting conservationists, park officials, local farmers, artists, and musicians; and, visiting important historical sites in the Old Havana.

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