University Enters Agreement with University of Havana; Faculty Experts Discuss Cuba's Future After Castro

The University of Texas at Austin has established an exchange agreement with the Universidad de la Habana, Cuba, signaling a new era of academic cooperation with the country in the wake of Fidel Castro's resignation as president. The agreement includes the exchange of faculty and graduate students in the social sciences, humanities and sciences.

Vice Provost for International Affairs Terri Givens and her counterpart at the Universidad de la Habana, Vice Rector Cristina Díaz López, signed the agreement in Havana on Feb. 8. Givens joined Jonathan Brown, history professor and associate director of the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies (LLILAS), who negotiated the terms of the agreement during a trip to Cuba last year, and John Parke Wright, a Florida businessman, who was instrumental in arranging the dialogue between the universities.

LLILAS, directed by Sociology Professor Bryan Roberts, will manage the academic exchanges under the agreement. Charles Groat, the Jackson Chair in Energy and Mineral Resources in the Jackson School of Geosciences, will coordinate activities in the sciences. The agreement includes visiting professorships, funding for graduate students and faculty members to conduct research in Cuba and support for special events, conferences and lectures.

"This agreement is the first of its kind between a Texas and Cuban university, and formalizes many of the research collaborations already in place," Brown said. "The Universidad de la Habana is leading efforts to standardize the nation's curriculum and research efforts in concert with the advances in knowledge generated in institutions around the world. With our longtime relationships and strength in Latin American scholarship, UT is ideally positioned to help Cuba reestablish these links."

In its 2008 rankings of America's Best Graduate Schools, U.S. News and World Report ranked the university's Latin American history program No. 1 in the nation. As a language and national resource center, LLILAS integrates more than 30 academic departments at the university and hosts a variety of symposia on Latin American issues, including this week's conference on Cuba's future.

Faculty experts will gather to discuss Cuba's future after Castro at the conference, "Transitions in the Cuban Revolution" Feb. 21-22. Speakers and panelists include several of the university's leading Cuba experts: Jonathan Brown, who was conducting research in Cuba at the time Castro's illness was first announced in 2006; Frank Guridy, assistant professor of history, whose research examines encounters between Cubans and African American Americans in the 20th century; Jafari Allen, assistant professor of anthropology, who studies Cuba, gender and sexuality in African diasporas; and Robin Moore, associate professor of music and author of "Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba."

The conference is sponsored by the Department of History, LLILAS, the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, the Department of Government, the Center for African and African American Studies, the School of Music and the Office of the Provost. For the schedule of speakers and presentations, visit "Transitions in the Cuban Revolution."