On Nov. 17, Queen’s professors Karen Dubinsky and Susan Lord were awarded the Panorama Award from the Canadian Bureau for International Education. The professors received the award for their work with the Cuban Culture and Society program, which they helped develop approximately 15 years ago.
Dubinsky, a Professor in the Department of Global Development and History, and Lord, a Professor in the Department of Film and Media, spoke to The Journal about the program’s success.
“I was just so pleased for the course, and really surprised because we know how many amazing courses there are [relating to] international education in Canada,” Lord said. “I was really thrilled for the course to be recognized.”
The Cuban Culture and Society program is a course dedicated to teaching the history of Cuba from 1959 to the present, including social and cultural challenges, successes, and innovations.
The course’s partnership with the University of Havana enables students to travel to Havana, Cuba to experience the city’s culture, art, music, architecture, and historic monuments.
“We bring filmmakers, artists, and musicians to the course when we’re in Havana,” Lord said.
“The students are able to get a sense of both the history and current conversations that artists are having about their country and about their society.”
The program has also brought Cuban philosophers, historians, sociologists, filmmakers, and musicians to Canada to interact with the Queen’s community.
“The work [our invited speakers] do tells us stories that are so moving, meaningful, and complicated,” Lord said.
“[The speakers generate] so much questioning and discussion about what it means for them to live in Cuba, if that’s where they’re still living, but also what it means to tell the story and history of a country and a society that has been under radical transformation for so many years.”
Dubinsky and Lord say the Cuban Culture and Society program has significantly evolved thanks to the establishment of strong professional connections.
“We go back every year, we maintain strong friendships and relationships with people,” Dubinsky said. “We are sometimes able to invite people to come back with us and give talks at Queen’s.”
The course is meant to provide students with an understanding of Cuban history and culture through readings and film screenings.
The 14-day exchange trip serves as an opportunity for students to then explore the material in person.
“We take them by the hand and [they] get to go to the place that they’ve been learning about,” Dubinsky said. “It’s so satisfying to watch students respond to that as well.”
Much to the disappointment of Dubinsky and Lord, the program has been paused due to COVID-19. However, they’re hopeful it will return in the
“The kind of learning that we do there is not just about Cuba, it’s also about our place in the world,” Lord explained.
“The students are often really amazed by how much they come back changed and able to see their own country in a different way.”
A previous version of the article stated the exchange trip was five days long.
The Journal regrets the error
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