Eckerd College goes to Cuba, develops relationship with University of Havana

December 17, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Dec. 17, 2014) — Eckerd College will send 18 students to Cuba in January to study the economy of the communist country as the United States seeks to normalize relations.

The study abroad course, led by Professor of Economics Peter Hammerschmidt, will focus on the history and development of Cuba’s economic system, efficiency, income distribution, government involvement and resource ownership. Students will compare and contrast Cuba’s economy with that of the United States. It will Hammerschmidt’s third trip to the island nation in the past five years.

Eckerd is also developing a relationship with the University of Havana that will allow marine science faculty and students to study Cuba’s marine environment starting this summer.

State colleges and universities in Florida are forbidden by state law to spend state money to travel to Cuba. Eckerd is a private college, founded in 1958, and is not covered by the state restrictions.

“We are excited that our students and faculty will be able to study in Cuba,” said Suzan Harrison, Ph.D., Dean of Faculty, who traveled to Havana recently to discuss a relationship with the University of Havana. “It is one of the most fascinating countries in the world and only 90 miles from Florida.”

In January, the 18 Eckerd students will spend two weeks in Cuba, flying out of Tampa International Airport on Jan. 10 and exploring five regions of Cuba. The trip will be preceded by a week of classroom study at the Eckerd campus in St. Petersburg. “This is a significant opportunity to live in and study a culture, economy and political system significantly different from our own,” said Hammerschmidt.

The course is one of 20 Winter Term study abroad courses that will send Eckerd students for research throughout the world, including China, Italy, Belize, Spain and Ecuador.