College cancels Cuba global pathway program

The college canceled the Cuba Global Pathways Program for the second year in a row—this year’s cancellation was a result of a lack of registered students, a college official said.

The Director of Education Abroad & Domestic Programs David Griffin said in an interview that the college needed at least six students to launch the program to balance the cost of traveling and inviting faculty. The program fee is $5,335 according to college website

Only four students registered to go to Cuba for summer 2019.

“We just couldn’t justify running it and sending a faculty member and paying all those expenses for a class that would just have four students,” Griffin said.

Emerson sent two groups of students to Cuba in summer 2016 and 2017. Last year, the college canceled the Cuba program because of a new travel requirement enforced by the Cuban government forcing the college to report student travel details to the government by early February—the school did not get the visas for students and faculty before the deadline.

Griffin said the reason for the cancellation this year had nothing to do with visa issues.

Visualizing Cuba is a two-week-long program that covers the way artists and filmmakers depict the country in their work and is only available to rising juniors and seniors. The curriculum includes a four-credit class taught by Jane Shattuc.

Shattuc said she still wants to do the Cuba Global Pathway program, and the college plans to hold it next year. Griffin and Shattuc, along with Anthony Pinder, the associate vice president of International & Global Engagement, plan to adjust the schedule and the curriculum syllabus in order to attract more students.

Shattuc is currently teaching at Emerson Los Angeles for the spring 2019 semester and does not know about what adjustments will be made yet. Shattuc and Griffin plan on discussing the changes to the program schedule in the summer.

“We are very, very disheartened that we couldn’t do it,” Griffin said. “It’s one of our programs that we are really proud of.”

Angela Piazza, a visual and media arts sophomore, said she found out she was accepted to the program the day after she submitted her application.

Piazza said she had paid half of the program fee, about $2,667, before the college canceled the program. She is still waiting for her refund, and the Education Abroad and Domestic Programs office provided no specific date of when she will receive it.

“I really like the timing of this program because it’s earlier [than other global pathways] and there is still time for me to do internships … so I was kind of disappointed,” Piazza said.

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1 Comment
  1. Jim Lewis says

    Only 4 students? Well–DUH! At $5334, this program is ridiculously overpriced. I have been taking groups to Cuba since 2012. I know what it costs to put on a program–from Deluxe 5-star hotels to budget dorm-style housing. You could have offered this for $2000/person or less, with students staying in private BnB’s. The academics (who must have charged a lot) could have gone for free, had a wonderful time, and made great contacts. They could have then returned home and monetized their trip by writing and speaking about their unique experiences. Students could have taken extra duffle bags with donated supplies. The Cubans would have greatly appreciated and benefitted from such actions. I suggest that students GOOGLE budget Cuba tours, then apply for Independent Study Credit. You will probably experience a higher-quality, more authentic trip. Cuba is a beautiful and safe country. Cubans love Americans and our culture. However, they do not particularly care for our government. Just like most of us.

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