IS 357: Cuba, HIST 357: Cuba, and GEO 300: Cuba

(Study Abroad)

Spring 2018

TTh, 11:00 am-12:15 pm


Jacksonville University

Instructors: Dr. Jesse Hingson and Dr. Ray Oldakowski

Class location: Gooding 111

Office location: Gooding 215 (Hingson) and Gooding 218 (Oldakowski)

Office phone: Hingson: (904) 256-7215 and Oldakowski: (904) 256-7669

Office hours: MF, 11 am-1 pm and Th, 12:30-1:30 pm and by appointment

E-mail: (Hingson) and (Oldakowski)

Course Web Page:


What does this course promise?  This course surveys the origins of Cuba’s national identity and explores various issues related to the country’s development, including its history, politics, economics, demographics, environment, traditions, and popular cultures.  This course features a mandatory Spring Break trip to Cuba.  Credit cannot be awarded for both IS 357 and HIST 357.  Learning will be assessed through written assignments, exams, and participation.  Regular attendance, reading the assigned materials, active participation, and completing assignments are all keys for success.  Please promise that you will do everything that you can to work with me as we explore these issues together.  I promise to do everything that I can to help you learn.  This course counts toward a B.A. or B.S. in History, and it is a core curriculum requirement for non-History majors.


Course Topics and Expected Course Outcomes: As a result of this course, the student will be able to do the following:

1) Discuss the economic, social, cultural, and political factors that have influenced Cuba’s history.

2) Analyze sources from Cuba’s past and present and intelligently discuss the issues involved in the use of such sources for historical analysis.

3) Critically engage significant works by modern scholars that address the course and impact of Cuba’s development. 


Attendance and Make-up Policies: Students are required to attend the week-long study abroad trip and all on-campus meetings prior to and after the trip.  Failure to do so will result in a zero for any assignment or discussion missed.  For on-campus meetings, a sign-in sheet will be passed out, and each person must sign her/his own name and provide some identifying information.  Any evidence of manipulation of the attendance sheet represents a university Honor Code violation and will result in judicial proceedings and automatic failure of the course.  It is the responsibility of the student to provide proper documentation from a doctor, university official, lawyer, or other professional in case of an unexcused absence.  In this case, a “make-up” day for any missed work has been scheduled.  Each “make-up” will consist of answering one essay question.  There will be no review given for these.  Finally, it is the student’s responsibility to initiate a withdrawal from the course within the designated withdrawal period.  Not doing so will result in failure for the course.


Drop/Add and Withdrawal Periods: For “Spring Short-term Programs”, defined as any course taught during the spring term with travel abroad commencing during spring break for one week or immediately following the spring term for one week, a typical course load is 1-4 credits.  While the majority of the contact hours are completed on-site, there are required lecture hours prior to departure and/or upon return.  Withdrawals must be submitted prior to departure for the travel portion of the course.  Withdrawals made after the drop/add period will receive a “W” on the transcript.  Students who do not complete the work abroad will receive a failing grade for the course.  Students who withdraw while abroad must return home immediately at their own expense and will receive a “W” for that course.  No refunds will be given.


Academic Dishonesty: Any evidence of cheating or plagiarism will result in automatic failure for the course.  Cheating is defined as the attempt, successful or not, to give or obtain aid and/or information by illicit means in meeting any academic requirements, including examinations.  It includes copying the writings of others with or without their knowledge.  Plagiarism is defined as the use, without proper acknowledgement, of the ideas, phrases, sentences, or larger units of discourse from another writer or speaker.  All are expected to know and abide by the policy as stated in the university catalog and student handbook.


Assistance for Needs Related to Disability: Requests for testing or instructional accommodations due to physical and learning disabilities, as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, need to be reported to the instructor during the first week of the semester.  These requests will require a confidential letter authorized and signed by JU’s Vice President for Student Life (904-256-7067).  Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations may assist in meeting the requirements.


Student Behavior: All are expected to behave according to accepted norms ensuring a climate wherein all can exercise their right to learn.  Such norms are set forth in the JU catalog.  I will not tolerate behavior that violates these norms.  These include sleeping, consistently arriving late, leaving early without prior notice, rude behavior toward others, doing work for other classes, or bringing live cell phones, laptops, or other electronic devices in the classroom.  Such behavior will be grounds for dismissal from the class, judicial proceedings, and/or failure of the course.  In a study abroad setting, your behavior is a reflection on you, faculty members, and the university, so please be aware of local customs and be respectful to others within the host country. 


Readings: Available for purchase at the university bookstore or other online vendors.  Please note that the bookstore returns unsold textbooks two weeks after classes begin.


Textbooks (REQUIRED):

1) Julia E. Sweig, Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know. Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012 [hereafter “Sweig”].

2) Joseph Scarpaci and Armando Portela, Cuban Landscapes: Heritage, Memory, and Place. Guilford Press, 2009 [hereafter “Cuban Landscapes”]


Additional Readings (If you’re interested but not required): Phillip Brenner, et al., A Contemporary Cuba Reader: The Revolution Under Raul Castro.



Requirements and Grading Scale:

Exam 1: 70 points

Exam 2: 70 points

Journals/Story Map: 260 points

Participation: 100 points

Total: 500 points


SCALE: A=500-450; B+=449-435; B=434-400; C+=399-385; C=384-350; D+=349-335; D=334-300; F=≤299


*No grade of “I” or “Incomplete” will be given unless a documented emergency prevents you from completing the course.


1) Exams: Exams will include: 1) a select list of people, places, and events to connect to the larger questions discussed in class, and 2) questions that challenge you to think critically.  The use of notes and textbooks is allowed and strongly encouraged.  In order to do well on the exams, it is important to bring in supporting evidence and examples from the readings, even if they are not discussed extensively in class.  It is the responsibility of all students to bring their own materials to the exam.  Sharing books and notes is not permitted. 


2) Journals: Journal entries will involve answering questions I pose before and during our time in Cuba in addition to recording your own observations and insights.  It must be kept in a composition book (or some other book with lined pages) or in a computer file.  Write as neatly as possible.  The journal may be collected randomly and at unexpected points during the trip.  Therefore, it is essential that you take notes and record observations as much as possible.  The journal will be assessed for its quality and quantity.  I will consider the quality of your note-taking observations and answers to questions I pose.  I will also review the quantity of these as evidence of your full attendance and participation.  I will provide a list of journal topics.  It is expected that all written work will be carefully edited.  Late journals will be penalized ten (10) points for each 24 hour period it is late. 


3) Participation: The expectations are that class meetings will be regularly attended and that all readings and assignments will be discussed.  Throughout the semester, participation may be assessed by: 1) quality of input in discussions within the class and during our time in Cuba, 2) an assignment that involves writing a 4-page (1000 word) paper that analyzes the cultural landscape of Cuba, and 3) assistance to the instructor.  This last category may entail assisting the instructor in creating class handouts, Power Point presentations, web pages, discussion questions, lists of additional bibliographical and/or internet resources (including music, photographs, documentaries, and films), summaries of current events and news stories, or any other materials that will help us understand what we are reading and/or viewing.  No make-up work will be given for missed in-class exercises and homework assignments.


SCHEDULE/READINGS: Instructor reserves the right to change the schedule if necessary

January 9, 11: Introductions and Syllabus (Hingson and Oldakowski)

·         How does Cuba fit within the Caribbean and Latin American Regions?


January 16, 18: Natural Hazards and Physical Geography (Oldakowski)

·         Read: Cuban Landscapes, Chapters 1 and 2

·         View: PBS Frontline Special, “The Quake” 


January 23, 25: Cuba Before 1959 (Hingson)

·         Read: Cuban Landscapes, Chapter 3


January 30, February 1: Demographics and Race (Oldakowski)


February 6, 8: The Cuban Revolution and the Cold War, part 1 (Hingson)


February 13, 15: The Cuban Built Landscape (Oldakowski)

·         Read: Cuban Landscapes, Chapters 5 and 6


February 20, 22: The Cuban Revolution and the Cold War, part 2, and After Fidel, Under Raul (Hingson)

·         View: PBS Frontline: Cuba, The Art Revolution


February 27, March 1: Interpreting the Landscape, Story Maps, and Logistical Issues (Oldakowski)


March 6, 8: Logistics and Questions (Hingson and Oldakowski)




March 20, 22, 27, 29: Debriefing Meetings and Class Presentations (Hingson and Oldakowski)


April 3, 5, 10, 12, 17: Individual Consultations


April 19: Journals Due


Finals Week (TBA): Make-up Day (if necessary, by appointment)



Cuba in the News (Select List of Sites in English)

The Guardian (UK)


Miami Herald (US)


Havana Times (Cuba)


Granma (Cuba--State Run)


Cuban News Agency (Cuba--State Run)


Al Jazeera (Qatar)  



How do I get an “A”?

• Participate in all group activities (educational, travel, meals) in Cuba

• Keep a journal while in Cuba

• Attend classes before the trip, participate in class discussions during the trip

• Don’t be an “ugly traveler” **

• Complete the classroom assignments before departing for Cuba



** - How to not be an “ugly traveler”

• This is not a typical “partying” spring break.  Our primary reason for being in Cuba is to

learn about the people and places we visit.  The tour is very structured so we will have to

be responsive to the rules specified by our guides.

• Remember, you are part of a group, sometimes you will have to sacrifice what you want

to do for the benefit of the group as a whole.

• If you don’t like someone, don’t hang around them.