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  • Locations: Havana, Cuba
  • Program Terms: Global Seminar Wntr
  • Restrictions: SPU applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Program Sponsor: SPU Faculty-led Areas of Study: Political Science
Program Type: Study Abroad Minimum GPA: 2.8
Number of Credits: 5
Program Description:

Cuba Banner  
Political Economy of Reform in Havana, Cuba

Winter 2019 Global Seminar
(December 2018)


Few countries have recent histories that are so inextricably linked with the United States as Cuba does. On this course, you will visit historical sites, cultural centers, interact with young entrepreneurs and aging revolutionaries, and witness history in the making. In Cuba, you will experience first hand the political and social triumphs and struggles of a country that is just 90 miles from U.S. shores, yet as of recently, largely off limits to the vast majority of the U.S. population. Ongoing political dynamics between the U.S. and Cuba will be covered while exploring contemporary Cuban economic and political issues. 

We will be based in Havana to experience life in the city and will gain a working knowledge of the geography, the main neighborhoods, and live with the locals. We'll meet with local artists, business, government, and religious leaders, and enjoy many beautiful sites in this great city.

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Course Information

POL 3300:  Political Economy of Reform (5 credits)
Cuba remains one of the last bastions of communism on the planet, historically relying on financial support from the Soviet Union and more recently Venezuela to support its under-performing economy which has kept the bulk of its population mired in poverty for decades. In recent years, the government of Cuba has begun a process of economic reform similar to that undertaken by the government of China in the early 1980s - allowing for the opening of micro-enterprises and small businesses by private entrepreneurs and a consistently expanding tourism sector drawing from the European and Canadian markets.

The study abroad program  is a short, two-week course titled "The Political Economy of Reform" where students will combine daily course lectures and readings with on site visits to better understand the current realities of economic and social development in Cuba and for many to gain their first experience of life "on the ground" in a less developed country. As a very near U.S. neighbor which has been essentially closed to most Americans for decades, it is essential for current university students to better comprehend the realities of this country if the U.S. and U.S.-based development organizations are to operate successfully in future in Cuba with staff who have had initial exposure to the region. 

2018 Itinerary
December 8:  Departure from Seattle as a group
December 9:  Arrival in Havana, transfer to housing, orientation, welcome dinner
December 10-21:  Classes, activities, excursions
December 22:  Program ends.  Return flight to Seattle


For the duration of the program, the group will be staying in traditional 'Casas Particulares' or private bed and breakfast/homestay-like accommodation. The rooms will be double rooms with single beds.

Staying in local Casas Particulares will give us the opportunity to meet and live alongside local Cuban families. We will select casas that maximize the interactive experience and are smaller, so will likely place students in many different nearby casas. 

Three meals a day will be provided. Students will be advised on the amount of spending money they should plan to bring for additional snacks and beverages.


2018 ESTIMATED* Program Fee Credits
$4,950 + $300 confirmation payment (administrative fee) 5

Program fee includes:
  • Lodging - Twin rooms in centrally located 'Casas Particulares' 
  • 3 meals per day
  • Group roundtrip flights from Seattle to Havana
  • ?All transportation for group activities in Cuba
  • Entrance fees to all group cultural and sightseeing activities
  • Cuban Visa
  • Medical insurance for the duration of the program
Estimated expenses not included in program fees:
  • Tuition: Credits earned are part of regular winter tuition
  • Personal expenses, some meals and snacks, souvenirs
  • Internet access:  $3.50 per hour
  • Laundry: $5 per load. Best way to avoid the expense is to bring enough clothing for 2 weeks!
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance - varies
U.S. debit and credit cards are not accepted in Cuba, so students will need to bring US dollars to exchange. Students will be advised on the estimated amount of cash to bring.

*Costs are estimated and may be adjusted in response to unanticipated price changes or foreign currency fluctuations.

Students on the Cuba Global Seminar may be eligible for financial aid, including state and federal aid. Check with Student Financial Services to determine your exact aid eligibility before applying


Flight Information for travel to Cuba

Participants in the Cuba program will be traveling as a group on round trip flights from Seattle to Havana. The costs for the flights are included in your program fee. Although the reservation is for group travel, it may be possible to arrange for you to return to a city other than Seattle depending on availability and cannot be guaranteed. If we are able to change your flight, there will be a $50 change fee, and extra airline fares may apply. Alternative flight schedules and additional ticket costs that are approved by you will be added to your student account.

It is important to know that once SPU purchases these flights, the fares are non-refundable and you will be responsible for costs incurred on your behalf according to the terms of the Study Away Financial Contract. If it is necessary for SPU to cancel the program or if you have reason to cancel after tickets have been reserved, SPU is not responsible for reimbursing the cost of your ticket. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to purchase flight insurance. We are happy to advise you on cancellation insurance options.


Dr. Murg

Brad Murg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science
SBGE Center House, 2nd Floor /   
Education: BA/MA, Emory University, MSc, London School of Economics, MA, University of Washington;
PhD, University of Washington

Dr. Bradley Murg teaches as an assistant professor of political science and serves as director of the program in Global Development Studies. He was named by Seattle Pacific students as the 2017 Professor of the Year.

Dr. Murg’s research, supported by grants from the Social Science Research Council and the International Research and Exchanges Board, focuses on legal reform, the political economy of foreign aid, and economic development in China and the former Soviet Union. He works regularly as a consultant/adviser to the Asian Development Bank on development issues in East Asia. In addition to these areas, Dr. Murg is an active member of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, and he is currently working on a series of articles exploring the conceptualization of poverty in contemporary Catholic social thought. Dr. Murg is also an affiliate faculty member of the Ellison Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Central Asian Studies at the University of Washington.

Dr. Murg graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Emory University where he also completed his master’s degree, focusing on the moral philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. He also holds an M.Sc. in Economic History from the London School of Economics. Dr. Murg’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Washington focused on legal reform and economic development in China, Russia, and Kazakhstan. He is fluent in French, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese with proficiency in German, Dutch, Uighur, Tagalog, and Latin.

Dr. Murg also acts as an advisor for the "Le Forum des Idées pour le Québec" in Montreal, Canada. He also regularly serves as a visiting professor of political economy at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he is also a founder and director of the Greater Mekong Research Center, a regional think tank.

When not on campus, he is generally found indulging his passion for kayaking off of his houseboat on Lake Union or adding to the list of the 78 countries he has visited — most recently, Ecuador. Brad attends the Roman Catholic, North American Martyrs parish, a Latin Mass community.
For more information, contact the Study Abroad Office

This program is currently not accepting applications.