Country Context

Following the ongoing economic overhaul begun by Raul Castro in 2010 and the current diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the USA (since late 2014), Cuba is witnessing profound change, uncertain yet pressing expectations, and the need to redesign its economic and political paradigms.

A unique reality marked by two currencies (both void of international legal tender) and multiple exchange rates; an ever increasing divide between nominal wage (in average 20 USD/month) and real income; and still standing social benefits (free medical care, free education, the longest rationing system in recorded history: 1962-present)—Cuba offers the possibility to study up close issues related to: socialism, economic transformations, race relations, gender and sexuality, informal economies, and urban planning. These issues are not to be seen as static categories, but as concrete question marks in a shifting environment.

Project Context

Havana has been historically one of the most vibrant and modern cities of the Western Hemisphere, as indexed by the first railway of the Spanish empire in 1837 (Spain would see its first train only in 1848). The city boasts one of Latin America’s most pristine historical centers (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982) combining architecture from the 16th to 19th centuries, with refurbished palaces leaning on collapsed complexes. The city is Cuba’s economic, touristic and political heart and a place in which you will learn as much on the streets as in the classroom and through your internship.

img_5250Given the many assumptions from outside, shifting landscape from within, and the need for cultural mediation in-between, the project is articulated around three cores. First, you will take classes with leading Cuban intellectuals, providing you with an alternative view point on concepts we question from the perspective of neoliberalism; and you will share the classes with Cuban students, a unique opportunity that will enrich each lecture. Second, you will achieve hands-on experience through visits, workshops, and direct engagement with projects run by Cuban NGOS and CBOs. Third, you will have internships with foreign NGOS working in Cuba.


Objectives and Outcomes

The objective of the Cuba IFP in 2017 is to provide you with a unique research oriented experience, where lectures and interactions with your (graduate) peers from a different country will provide you with a more in-depth understanding of global problems at play in a specific context. Studying as it unfolds the emergence of neoliberal practices in an allegedly market-less economy; of class- and race-disparity in a purportedly class-less and post-racial society; of gender-equality in a highly gendered reality—these are some of the building blocks of a political grammar the Havana IFP will provide you with.  Students will work on the following topics:

  • Economic transformation
  • Race relations
  • Gender equality
  • Poverty
  • Food Security
  • Illicit/informal economies

Applicants will be selected baimg_5277sed on their research interests and their foreseen adaptability to a shifting context.

Graduate students from other New School departments as well as from other universities are welcome to apply.

Partner Organizations



Foreign NGOs/agencies

Program Info and Requirements

  • Begins: May 29 2017
  • Ends: July 29 2017
  • Supervisor: Gabriel Vignoli
  • Language Requirement: Spanish (Intermediate-High proficiency). If not already fluent, students are encouraged to take Spanish classes at their home institution.  (New School students may audit Fall and Spring Spanish Classes.) Spanish classes will be given throughout the IFP in Havana, based on language test performed in April.
  • International Affairs Concentrations: Cities and Social Justice, Development, Media and Culture, Governance and Rights. (Students from outside The New School should confirm how credits will transfer with their home institution.)
  • Spring semester required course: Cuba: Critical Concepts and the Cuba IFP LAB.
  • Syllabus: Forthcoming.

Living in Cuba

img_0059Life in Cuba is intense: the country is undergoing a profound transformation and the reality on the ground is changing fast. You have a unique window to observe this change in the making. Students will be hosted in private homes (2 per room, breakfast included, mostly with AC, TV, private bathroom).

Contact Information: Gabriel Vignoli: