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Fall 2016: Human Rights and Economic Development in Cuba

Wednesdays 4:30 - 6:30pm


This research course will provide an overview of Cuba’s legal system, using key provisions of the thirty Articles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a framework. Students will explore Civil and Political Rights as well as Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in Cuba and where relevant, compare and contrast the same rights as implemented in the United States.

This course will be taught in two locations. The first section of the course will provide an overview of Cuban civil and political rights and U.S.-Cuban relations. In the second section, students will pick a research topic and lead class discussions regarding Cuban political, economic, social and cultural development against a framework of international norms. We will also compare how the US adheres to the same international norms. The U.S.-based class discussions will lay the foundation for further on-site discussions in Cuba with in-country experts. In Cuba, students will deepen understanding of their topics through discussion with Cuban experts who will shed light on the civil, political, economic social and cultural rights against a backdrop of a developing country.

To fulfill the requirements of the course, each student will lead an in-class discussion on their topic and then write and present a research paper on an aspect of Cuban human rights or economic development.


The seminar will meet primarily during the fall semester (Wednesday 4:30pm-6:30pm) and for two additional sessions in the spring semester, where students will present their research. The Spring term sessions will meet during the make-up period so as to avoid a conflict with students’ other Spring term classes.

During the winter break (January 1-8, 2017), the class will spend one week in Cuba, where the group will meet with local stakeholders including government officials, social workers, attorneys, and NGO workers. In order to be eligible for this class, students must be able to attend the entirety of this research trip.


Students must travel with the group flight to and from Havana. There will be no exceptions.

Students will be charged a $1500 program fee (for charter flights, visas, accommodations, in-country transportation and other programmatic expenses.) The trip fee assumes double occupancy accommodations. Some meals and cultural excursions will be covered by the program fees, but students will be expected to cover additional meals, sightseeing activities and incidental expenses.

Limited financial aid is available. Students are also able to increase their loans to cover costs associated with this trip. After enrollment is determined, students seeking financial aid will be asked to provide a separate letter explaining the basis for their need. Financial aid decisions will be made in a timely fashion to allow students to drop the course should they wish to.


This class is open to 2L, 3L, and LLM students; there are no pre-requisites for enrolling in the seminar.

The application deadline is July 15, 2016. In order to be considered for the seminar, students must follow the instructions provided via the online form below. Applicants must submit a short personal statement (of no more than 500 words) describing their reasons for wanting to take this class and their interest in the topic together with a resume and unofficial transcript. As noted previously, only students who are able to be a part of the January research trip should apply.

Application Instructions