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Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Language of Instruction: Spanish Program Advisor: Dr. Kristen Grace
Program Description:

At a Glance

Two Courses: Healthcare in Cuba: Cultures and History of Medicine and Spanish for Healthcare Workers
Location: Havana, Cuba
Credit: Each course is worth 4 U.S. semester hours/credits
Pre-requisite: No pre-requisite for Healthcare in Cuba course (taught in English); two years of college-level Spanish or equivalent required for Spanish for Healthcare Workers course
Approximate Dates: June 3 - July 1, 2017
Application Deadline: March 15, 2017 

Cuba Overview

One of the longest running socialist experiments in history, Cuba is at a critical crossroad. Cuba’s political and economic spheres have long been subjects of interest and debate providing fertile ground for exciting academic inquiry. Havana, the capital city, was founded nearly 500 years ago, and due to its location, became a center of ship-building in the Caribbean and a strategic stopping point in the Spanish colonial empire. Today it is a sprawling metropolis, home to 2 million residents, and a mix of European, Latin, and American influences. Historic Old Havana, with its diverse architectural styles, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)

The Brown/CASA Cuba summer program is offered by the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA), which is comprised of 10 leading research universities in the US and abroad. CASA member institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt University. Brown/CASA programs currently are offered in Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Ireland, and Spain. Brown University is the administering institution for the CASA Cuba Program.


This summer program offers students the opportunity to take one or both courses:  Healthcare in Cuba and Spanish for Healthcare Workers. Each student's course(s) and grade(s) will appear on a Casa de las Américas (Havana) transcript. 


Healthcare in Cuba: Cultures and History of Medicine course
For over half a century, Cuba has gained a global reputation for its pioneering health system. Universal access to quality healthcare has become a signature achievement of the Cuban Revolution. In the early 1960s, the new revolutionary government nationalized medical services and began expanding access to healthcare in the countryside. Emphasizing health screening and preventative care, while providing free medical care to all Cuban citizens, these reforms were both popular and successful, and led to significant improvements in overall Cuban health indices. Today the island boasts a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., and has among the highest life expectancy rates and doctor to patient ratios in the world. What factors account for the seemingly outsized importance of medicine and public health under the Cuban Revolution? What can the study of public health and medicine tell us about broader themes in Cuban history? This seminar, which is taught in English, is designed to introduce students to the history and contemporary development of Cuban medicine and public health. Through a combination of shared readings, discussion, and group visits to local health clinics, participants will explore a variety of themes central to the history and development of Cuban medicine. Topics will include: religious, popular, and biomedical approaches to health and healing; the development of healthcare institutions; Cuba’s controversial yet successful fight against HIV/AIDS; gender, maternal health and abortion access in Cuba; race, immigration, and disease; and the development of Cuban medicine in the context of post-1990s economic reforms.
Spanish for Healthcare Workers course

This intensive course is designed to provide students with the linguistic and cultural competencies necessary to communicate with and help treat Spanish-speaking patients with limited English proficiency.  The course will include a general review of pertinent grammar and specific vocabulary groups relating to the healthcare professions; assessment and care of patients, vocabulary useful for establishing rapport, and discussions leading to cultural competencies. Participants will practice communication skills by writing medical and social/personal histories, learn vocabulary to conduct basic exams in Spanish, and explore cultural and social factors that may affect communication with Spanish-speaking patients through readings, films and information on health care systems and professions in a variety of settings. By the end of the class, students will be able to ask questions and provide answers in common medical situations in Spanish, conduct patient interviews and understand a wider variety of possible responses from patients.

Orientation and On-Site Support

The program begins with a group orientation program in Miami, Florida. Afterward, students fly to Cuba together and have a brief on-site orientation in Havana. Orientation activities introduce students to Cuba and its healthcare system and helps students understand basic social, political, and cross-cultural elements that inform everyday life in Cuba. CASA-appointed on-site staff assist students upon arrival and throughout their stay in Havana.


Students share living accommodations in various residences provided by Casa de las Américas. All residences are safe, clean, and secure, and located in the Vedado district, which is within walking distance to Casa de las Américas. Students share ample air-conditioned bedrooms (double occupancy) with modern toilets and showers, and are provided with breakfast and dinner each day. Washing machines are available, and safe drinking water is provided.  

Program Faculty 

Healthcare in Cuba: Cultures and History of Medicine course

Dr. Daniel Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor of History at Brown University. Dr. Rodriguez works on the history of public health, medicine, and disease in Latin America and the Caribbean. His current book project, “A Blessed Formula for Progress: The Politics of Health, Medicine, and Welfare in Havana, 1897-1935,” looks at how struggles over disease and health shaped the lives of Havana's residents during the transition from colonial rule to independence. Professor Rodriguez's other teaching and research interests include the history of welfare and philanthropy, environmental history, and the history of gender and sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
Dr. Jennifer Lambe is an Assistant Professor of Latin American and Caribbean History at Brown University. Her forthcoming book, Madhouse: Psychiatry and Politics in Cuban History traces the history of mental illness and mental healing in Cuba through the Mazorra Mental Asylum, the only public psychiatric hospital in Cuba until the 1959 Revolution and a key site of political intervention and social reform. Lambe's work explores the intersection between political history, intellectual history, and popular culture. 

Dr. Enrique Beldarraín Chaple, M.D., Ph.D., is chief of the research department at the Centro Nacional de Información de Ciencias Médicas, and full professor and researcher in the history of public health at the University of Havana Medical School. Dr. Beldarraín Chaple has published five books and 46 articles about the history of medicine and epidemics in Cuba. 
Spanish for Healthcare Workers course

Dr. Jill Kuhnheim is a visiting Professor of Hispanic Studies at Brown University. She has been a professor in the Spanish and Portuguese departments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Kansas, where she chaired the department and served as Director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Professor Kuhnheim has been an editor for the Río de la Plata Poetry Section of the Library of Congress’s Handbook of Latin American Studies and has authored various books and articles. Her books include Gender, Politics, and Poetry in Twentieth Century Argentina;  Spanish American Poetry at the End of the 20th Century: Textual Disruptions; and Beyond the Page: Poetry and Performance in Spanish America. She was selected as a KU “Woman of Distinction” in 2013, and is currently co-editing a book on teaching contemporary Latin American Poetries. 

Dr. Enrique Beldarraín Chaple, M.D., Ph.D., is chief of the research department at the Centro Nacional de Información de Ciencias Médicas, and full professor and researcher in the history of public health at the University of Havana Medical School. Dr. Beldarraín Chaple has published five books and 46 articles about the history of medicine and epidemics in Cuba.  

Eligibility Requirements and Application Instructions

The Brown/CASA Cuba summer program is open to undergraduate students from Brown and from other CASA member schools. Applications from visiting students from non-CASA member institutions will be considered on a space available basis. Students must be in good academic standing to apply. Students should apply by the application deadline using Brown's online application system via the "apply now" and "return to application" buttons on the left side of this page.

Program Costs and Financial Aid

Each student's summer program bill will cover the following: fees for either 1 or 2 course units (i.e., either 4 or 8 US credit hours, depending on whether the student takes one or both courses), housing, orientation/welcome activities, daily breakfast and dinner, round-trip airfare between Miami and Havana, course-related excursions, and on-site support services. The amount billed does not include round-trip airfare between the student's home and Miami, daily lunch, books/academic materials, local transportation, personal expenses, or health insurance/medications - students are expected to pay for those on their own. See the estimated program cost for further information.  
Students seeking financial aid should discuss options with their home institution's study abroad and/or financial aid office. In addition, students can apply for outside scholarship funding through other organizations. Visit the following websites for further information regarding scholarship opportunities:

Please note – you must complete both this Cornell application as well as an application direct to Brown University for admission: Click Here

Related Files

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Approx. Start Approx. End
Summer 2019 03/15/2019 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Programs may fill long before their final deadline. * Recommendation--For SPRING: APPLY in MAY to study abroad the following spring. For FALL/YEAR: APPLY in DECEMBER. Late applications may be accepted, but colleges typically need time to process your approval.