Santiago Luna, the coordinator for the Center for Global Business at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, writes about the Faculty Development in International Business program.
Twelve faculty from colleges and universities throughout the United States traveled to Cuba from May 18-26, 2019, with the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Business (CGB) as part of the center’s Faculty Development in International Business (FDIB) program. The goal of this FDIB was for participants to develop a better understanding of the Cuban economy within its broader historical, political, and cultural context.
Over the course of eight days, the group engaged in discussions with Cuban scholars, entrepreneurs and private business owners, representatives from the U.S. and European diplomatic community, and other key stakeholders of the socioeconomic landscape to learn more about the economy in Cuba, opportunities and challenges for Cuban entrepreneurs, and the U.S.-Cuba relationship.
This was the third time that CGB’s executive director Rebecca Bellinger and academic director Kislaya Prasad led the program. “Cuba has undergone drastic economic changes in the last several years,” said Bellinger. “It is remarkable that every time we return to the island we get to witness changes in the Cuban economy and share the experience with a new group of participants. Given that this is the third FDIB in Cuba, we can now rely on the great relationships we have forged over time to create a comprehensive program that enables our faculty participants to really understand the Cuban context.”
The program kicked off with an urban planner to discuss housing, infrastructure, investments, and restoration programs in the city, coupled with a tour of Havana’s historic Old City. The next day the group visited the University of Havana for discussions with professors on U.S.-Cuba relations and Cuban foreign policy, and a tour of the university grounds. Later that evening the group visited Lizt Alfonso Academy, a women-led dance company for local youth, where they watched a private performance and discussed how the dancers came to join the academy and the impact it has had on their lives.
Some of the highlights throughout the rest of the week included a visit to Cuba Emprende, a project that offers training and advisory services to Cuban entrepreneurs; briefings at the U.S. and E.U. embassies; tourism-focused discussions with Delta Airlines and a site visit to the Kempinski Hotel, a five-star hotel in Central Havana made possible through a joint venture with the Kempinski chain; and a presentation on the state and future of the Mariel Port and Special Development Zone, a deep-water port that operates within a certain zone outside of Havana. The group also ventured outside of Havana to the city of Matanzas, to compare the tourism and the private business sector in a smaller city with those in Havana.
The Center for Global Business at Maryland Smith is one of 15 institutions across the country to be recognized with a Center for International Business Education (CIBE), a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The FDIB Cuba program is one of several FDIB programs within the CIBE network intended to serve and support faculty, including those from minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and community colleges, with a platform to understand how to do business globally and internationalize business education at their home institution. Through the CIBE grant, CGB and other schools in the CIBE network awarded partial support to 9 MSI and community college faculty to participate in the FDIB Cuba program.
For additional information on Cuba, read the Smith Brain Trust article by Bellinger on "Why Cuba’s Brain Drain Looks Completely Different" or visit the resources page. If you are a faculty from an MSI or community college and interested in support for and the opportunity to participate in FDIB programs, check out CGB's grants page.
This program is provided in part by CIBE, a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education.