Havana, Cuba

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Havana, Cuba

Experience the complexity of contemporary Cuba through its modern art, architecture and visual culture. This intensive summer travel course runs during Summer Session I and features 12 days on the island. While in Cuba, you visit various artists' studios, collections, architectural monuments and historical sites in the cities of Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and the rural village of Viñales. You are also asked to document these travel experiences digitally on Instagram (#penninhavana). Upon return to the US, you are required to complete two written projects—a daily journal from the trip and a longer research essay.

Prior to travel, class is held in on campus, and you are required to maintain a Philadelphia residence through the end of June 2018.

Penn-in-Havana is no longer accepting applications for 2018

Early admission deadline: Monday, January 15, 2018
Rolling admissions continue until the program reaches capacity
Final application deadline: Friday, April 18, 2018


Join us for an information session to learn more about the program:

  • Thursday, January 18 at 5 p.m. in Williams Hall, Room 741
Monday, May 21, 2018 Classes start in Philadelphia
TBA Classes in Philadelphia
Monday, June 4, 2018 Recommended arrival in host country (class travels together)
Monday, June 4, 2018 Program housing first available
Monday, June 4, 2018 On-site orientation
Friday June 15, 2018 Leave Havana
Friday June 15, 2018 Program housing last checkout date
Monday, June 18, 2018 Classes resume in Philadelphia
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 Classes end in Philadelphia

Monday, June 4, 2018

  • Arrival to Santiago, meet your guide at the exit of the terminal and transfer to the city center
  • Discussion with architect Norka Cabrales
  • Walking tour of Santiago’s historic center
  • Visit Museo Colonial
  • Visit Bacardi Museum
  • Watch a performance by La Tumba Francesa

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

  • Visit Siboney Farm
  • Visit Basílica del Cobre
  • Visit Monumento al Cimarrón
  • Visit and discussion with local Santeros
  • Visit Santa Ifigenia Cemetery
  • Visit Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

  • Travel to Camagüey
  • Walking tour of Bayamo historic center
  • Performance by Maraguan

Thursday, June 7, 2018

  • Walking tour of the historic center of Camagüey
  • Arrive in Trinidad

Friday, June 8, 2018

  • City tour with a specialist from the City Historian's Office
  • Visit to the Temple of Yemaya
  • Performance by a local folkloric dance group

Saturday, June 9, 2018

  • Visit to the archeological site San Isidro de los Destiladeros
  • Visit to Manaca Iznaga farm

Sunday, June 10, 2018

  • Travel to Havana
  • Visit Ciénaga de Zapata
  • Visit Playa Giron and the Bay of Pigs Museum
  • Socio-economic discussion with urban planner Miguel Coyula
  • Enjoy live music, art and dancing at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano

Monday, June 11, 2018

  • Interactive discussion with professors and students from the Superior Institute of Art
  • Walking tour of the Old City: Plaza Vieja, Plaze de San Francisco, Plaza de la Catedral, and the Plaze de Armas
  • Visit to the Lizt Alfonso Academy, a women-led dance company and school for local youth

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

  • Visit Museum of Cuban Art
  • Visit to the studio of artists Roger Toledo and Jorge Luis Bradshaw
  • Visit Museum of the Revolution
  • Spend the early evening at Café Madrigal with Frank Delgado

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

  • Visit Christopher Colon Cemetery
  • Visit a centuries-old home in Vedado
  • Visit Callejón de Hamel
  • Discussion with the Reina y Real

Thursday, June 14, 2018

  • Free day

Friday, June 15, 2018

  • Check out and depart for the airport in Havana

All students register for a total of one course unit (c.u.)*. Course offerings are subject to change. Course registration is completed by the Penn Summer Abroad office for students who confirm their intent to enroll and submit the required pre-departure documents. 

Cuban Visual Culture

ARTH 384 / AFRC 384 / LALS 384 (1 c.u.)

  • Taught by William Schmenner
  • Fulfills requirement: Cross-cultural analysis

This course focuses on the urban history and cultural politics of contemporary Cuba with an emphasis on contemporary art and contemporary developments in the city of Havana. Students learn about the Spanish influence on early colonial art, the development of formal academic art training, the changes to art instruction, as well as the form and content of art created since the Revolution.

While in Havana, students continue to read and participate in daily discussions as we visit various artists' studios, collections, architectural monuments and historical sites. Several short online quizzes are administered through the course Canvas site in advance and upon conclusion of the trip. This course is an intermediate survey in art history appropriate for continuing undergraduates at the sophomore and junior level. No previous courses in art history or architectural history are necessary. However, priority is given to art history majors, minors and students who have taken previous Penn art history courses such as ARTH102, 106, 278 or 294.

Students live in pairs in a hotel arranged by Cuba Educational Travel. The hotel and homestays provide full breakfasts each day. Most lunches, including bag lunches on travel days, are also included. Students should only expect to purchase their own dinners a few times.

Tuition and fees are subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and may change without notice. 

  • Tuition for summer 2018: $4,224
  • Program fee for summer 2018: $3,480
    • Penn Summer Abroad deposits ($500) will be deducted from the program fee amount
    • Includes accommodations with breakfast, some lunches and dinners, local transport and cultural activities

Note: The Penn Summer Abroad program in Havana has received special funding in which the program fees and travel costs for up to 12 participants will be fully funded. Please contact summerabroad@sas.upenn.edu for inquiries.

Student Photos


View #penninhavana photos on Instagram.

Contact Information

For details about the program, courses, or location including academic advising, travel dates, housing and orientation:

Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw

Program Director
Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw
Associate Professor of History of Art
University of Pennsylvania
Tel: (215) 898-6203

For assistance with the application, financial questions, pre-departure or other general information:

Nicola M. Gentili

Penn Summer Abroad Office
College of Liberal & Professional Studies
University of Pennsylvania
3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA, 19104-3335
Tel: (215) 898-7326

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

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3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326

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