Opportunities beyond the Classroom

Agro-Ecology in Cuba

A 3 credit study abroad course offered at both the graduate level (MACE 597) and undergraduate level (ALES 391). Applicants not wanting to take this for credit are also eligible to apply.

Course Description and Objectives
Over the past three decades, Cuba has attracted the world’s attention for its widespread transformation from high input, import-dependent agriculture to an alternative model based on local self-sufficiency and ecological farming methods.

The purpose of this study abroad course is to offer students the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the agroecology movement in Cuba and to gain an understanding of Cuba’s on-going efforts to create a more self-sufficient and sustainable food system. Through direct dialogue with farmers, cooperatives, research centres and NGO’s, we will explore the movement and the methods, the strengths and the challenges of agroecology in Cuba and the prospects for the country’s food system in a time of uncertainty and change. In addition to many site visits, technical workshops, lectures and face-to-face encounters, we will also have the opportunity for hands-on learning and cultural activities.
Throughout the program, there will be opportunities for reflection, critical analysis and group discussion of field activities and academic articles. It is important to understand that this program is based on an experiential adult education model in which participants will play a significant role in determining their own learning outcomes. Participants must be prepared for learning and living within a group context and for working in a cross-cultural and Spanish speaking environment.

At the end of this course you will be able to:
● Describe the development of agroecology in Cuba and the key factors shaping it;
● Demonstrate (both oral and written) an understanding of key concepts: agroecology, permaculture, organic urban agriculture, food sovereignty, food security;
● Have a working knowledge of sub-themes such as intercropping, composting, water and pest management, perennial and annual food crops.

Course assessment and expectations
Course assignments will consist of two individual written assignments (field notes summary, final paper) due June 21, 2018, and one group project in Cuba. Students are required to keep a record (field notes, journaling) of daily activities, impressions and reflections. Linking of practical experiences to theoretical concepts introduced in workshops and readings is encouraged. Evaluation will also include participation in discussions and hands on activities.

Approximate Cost
$2200-$2600 (depending on exchange rate and the number of participants). Airfare and tuition not included. Cost covers meals, accommodation, and travel within Cuba.
This course has been approved for the $750 Education Abroad Grant to support the first 10 students who are accepted into the for-credit option.

Apply by January 15, 2018
Deadline for applications is January 15, 2018 at midnight. There is a limited number of spots available, and applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Apply online today – applicants will be notified no later than February 1, 2018.

For more information, contact Dr. Mary Beckie at mace@ualberta.ca