Country Context

Cuba is witnessing profound change, uncertain yet pressing expectations, and the need to redesign its economic and political paradigms. The ongoing economic overhaul begun by Raul Castro in 2010 and the diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the USA declared in late 2014 are being rewritten by the haphazard stance of the Trump administration vis-à-vis Cuba, and by the fact that Raul Castro will step down in February 2018, leading to the emergence of a new leadership after 59 years

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, technology, and urban planning. These issues are not to be seen as static categories, but as 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 involvement with Cuban organizations.


Given 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/against a neoliberal perspective in the US. 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 to conceive, execute and evaluate a research project leading to a publishable paper—this can be a personal or group research project.

Objectives and Outcomes

The objective of the Cuba IFP in 2018 is to provide you with a unique research oriented experience, where lectures and interactions with your 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, in order to ideally make you better citizens of your own country.  Students can work on the following topics:

  • Economic transformation
  • Race relations
  • Gender Equality
  • Poverty
  • Food Security and environmental risk
  • Illicit/informal economies
  • Urban challenges/urban planning
  • Technology

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

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

Partner Organizations


Cuban and foreign NGOs/GONGOS

Program Info and Requirements

  • Begins: May 27, 2018
  • Ends: July 28, 2018
  • Supervisor: Gabriel Vignoli
  • Language Requirement: Spanish (Intermediate 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 to 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, with AC).

Contact Information: Gabriel Vignoli: