This semester, students in GVPT-388F: Foreign Policy Decision Making are having a fairly typical campus experience—attending lectures, studying, taking notes, participating in class discussions. But in a few months, they’ll be traveling with Professor William Reed on an extraordinary winter study abroad adventure to Cuba. There, they’ll learn about several events that shaped much of the foreign policy of the United States in and with Cuba.
“Taking students to Cuba is particularly valuable because Cuba plays a central role in the United States’ foreign policy,” Reed said.
After completing this course, students will be familiar with theories of foreign policy decision-making as they are applied to the study of singular events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis. In addition, they will be exposed to an alternative narrative of Cuba-U.S. relations from area experts in Havana who will meet with the students to discuss the economic and political relationship between our countries.
Heading into the fall semester, demand for the course was high. Now that it is under way, students are engaged with the current course work, but are definitely looking forward to the study abroad experience.
“Cuba is a desirable location to visit because of its geographic proximity to the United States. It is a relatively inexpensive trip, making access to in country experiences more accessible,” Reed said. “Some of my students have mentioned that they never thought they would be able to participate in a study abroad experience until they saw this particular opportunity.”
When discussing the course with students—and with members of the general public—Reed said that there are some skewed perceptions about the country.
“Some people might be surprised to learn that education and medical care are free in Cuba. In fact, education is mandatory for children from the ages of 6 to 16, and Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world,” Reed said.
Reed—who also affiliated with the Center for International Development and Conflict Management –focuses his research on the onset, duration, expansion, and termination of international and civil conflict.