For a number of reasons, Cuba represents a wonderful case study for the value of using the natural history, arts, media and cultural traditions as a means of encouraging citizens to adopt environmentally sustainable practices. Since the 1990s, Cuba has been in the unique situation of being forced to address sustainable agricultural and environmental practices. Given the pressure to increase tourism to keep money flowing into Cuba, the need to reform industrial farming practices, and the need to address failing infrastructure after the end of Soviet assistance (called the Special Period), Cuba has made a number of dramatic decisions to move toward sustainability.
As governments around the world have found, laws and incentives may do a lot to encourage changes in daily choices toward sustainability, long-term change must use existing arts to make sustainability a part of culture. Working with the University of Havana Geography Department, as well as Artes Escenicas Cubanas (Performing Arts organization) and Cuban writers about the environment, the class will explore the complexities of sustainability with an emphasis on the role of humanities in a global context with hands-on experience.
Highlights include field trips to the following sites:
The Bay of Pigs
The Cienaga de Zapata
Rio Almendares (Havana's primary water source)
Vinales and Pinar del Rio