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Three Central Washington University faculty members will be part of a delegation visiting Cuba. Mark Auslander, anthropology and museum studies professor and director of the Museum of Culture and Environment; Elvin Delgado, director of the Institute for Integrated Energy Studies; and Kenneth Cohen, director of the International Sustainable Development Institute (ISDI), leave on their week-long trip on Saturday, October 24.

“The Cuban government has stated that its primary economic priority is tourism,” Cohen points out. “That being said, there are concerns about environmental and cultural impacts of a greatly expanded tourism sector. These are issues that the ISDI can help address. We look forward to exchanging ideas with our Cuban counterparts and exploring mutually beneficial opportunities.”

Cohen and his CWU colleagues will learn about the current state of Cuban higher education at some of the country’s more than 60 universities, which offer undergraduate and graduate programs in arts and humanities, education, medicine, science, and technology.

Ann Radwan, executive director of CWU’s International Studies and Programs, selected the three, noting, “Since they’ve already worked in both Central and South America, it seemed natural. They have very different interests and backgrounds. I wanted a diverse group of people going.”

The trip is sponsored by the Institute of International Education (IIE) Cuba Higher Education Initiative. CWU is a partner in the initiative, which seeks to rebuild higher education engagement between the United States and Cuba in light of the reopening of diplomatic relations between the countries.

In all, CWU—the only university selected for the trip from the western United States—and representatives of 11 other universities will join IIE staff to comprise the delegation.

CWU President James L. Gaudino adds, “The partnerships that we hope to develop with peer institutions in Cuba will allow us to expand our global connections and outreach into a new part of the world. It will also benefit our Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, and expand study abroad opportunities for our students—and those who want to come here—along with faculty exchanges.”

Despite travel restrictions, in recent years a limited number of American students have studied in Cuba. However, few Cuban students have come to the United States. That’s now subject to change and could lead to students from the island nation studying at CWU.


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