College Spotlights

Year of Cuba Projects

Project Descriptions:

Cuba Study Abroad Print Exhibit and Lecture 

This spotlight will showcase an exhibition of prints created by students participating in KSU’s 2018 Study Abroad Program to Cuba. The exhibit will represent the products of a collaboration between art history and print-making classes to workshop a series of Cuban Superhero characters. The Superheroes will be based on Santeria orisha. Up to 80% of Cubans are followers of Santeria. Some 400 Santeria orisha, or deities, of which 20 are most popular, serve as guides and protectors to devotees, aligning them with the concept of superhero. Participating students will research an orisha and generate a visual vocabulary through which to represent that orisha as superhero. The visual vocabulary will be based on interpretation of Cuban art history. Students will also select a significant Cuban artist and bring that artist’s iconography and style in to dialog with the personality, powers and story of an orisha. They will create an environment or context for their orisha, based on student reflection of spaces and places encountered in Havana during fieldtrips. This program will also include a lecture delivered as part of the Year of Cuba series in which the participating professors discuss the goals, successes and challenges of the project. This project fosters interdisciplinary undergraduate research and reflective practices in which studio, art history, folklore, architecture, history and religion intersect. It fosters collaboration and professional practices by students in the production of artwork, didactic texts and an exhibition design. And it fosters rigorous reflective practices during a study abroad experience with the goal of disseminating artistic and educational materials to local and national audiences. Exhibitions will be held in the Fine Arts Gallery, Wilson Building, on the Kennesaw Campus in late fall 2019, on the Marietta Campus in spring 2020, and at Blackwell Elementary School in spring 2020.

A “Community of Many Voices”: New Cuban Independent Media and the Building of Civil Society

Featuring a week-long campus residency in mid-October by renowned Cuban Journalists, Elaine Díaz Rodríguez (Director of online magazine Periodismo de Barrio), and José Jasán Nieves Cárdenas (General Coordinator of elTOQUE), the focus of this spotlight is to help students become critical news consumers and producers able to participate responsibly as engaged global citizens. KSU students will engage in conversations with journalists and media specialists about the nature of information production and consumption, and refine strategies for seeking, evaluating and creating information in a variety of new online platforms and outlets. The Cuban journalists and our students will interact and discuss new literacies brought about by digital technologies: information, media, visual, and news. The Cuban journalists will collaborate with the KSU Student Media, including The Sentinel, The Peak, and Owl Radio. They will collaboratively host a panel discussion open to all audiences to discuss freedom of the press and traditional versus alternative journalism, and will also offer students the opportunity to hear about different journeys into journalism and civic action. This panel will be streamed live and archived, and moderated by members of the KSU Society for Professional Journalists. These interactions will result in a creative collaborative article between The Peak, KSU’s student lifestyle magazine, elTOQUE and Periodismo de Barrio. In addition, Owl Radio will present a live program featuring the Cuban journalists, to discuss new Cuban journalism.

 Cuban Economy

Focused on helping our students better understand the Cuban Economy, this spotlight features a total of four separate events to take place during the 2019-2020 academic year, two in the fall semester and two in the spring. In the fall, Dr. Archibald Ritter (Carleton University), an expert on development economics who specializes on Cuba, will give a guest lecture. Later in the semester, this will be followed by a screening of the film: The Singular Story of Unlucky Juan ( In the spring semester, the series will continue with guest lectures by Dr. William Trumbull (The Citadel) and Dr. Robert Lawson (Southern Methodist University). The series of events collectively focus on the economic history and development of Cuba, with an emphasis on the past 60 years. Following the Cuban Revolution, an economic system emerged which was the first in the Americas based on Marxist-Leninist principles and central planning. The revolutionaries gained popular support by promising to end corruption, create a socially just society, and deliver prosperity to the masses. In an attempt to achieve these goals, they established an economy modeled after the Soviet Union. Today, Cuba is one of the last communist economies globally (even after implementing recent economic reforms, Cuba still ranks near the bottom of all countries in terms of “economic freedom”). The proposed events would provide important insights related to the history and evolution of the Cuban economy throughout this period, up to the present day. These events, while of primary interest to business students, would serve as a critical part of a broader interdisciplinary educational platform. They will help to increase awareness, interest, and understanding of Cuba and its place in the modern world. Participants will become informed about both the history of and recent reforms within the Cuban economy as it attempts to become a part of the global economy in the future.

 Building Campus Culture, one ‘Pi’ece at a Time

To be held in conjunction with “Pi” day and Geek Week activities in March of 2020 on the Marietta campus, this spotlight is inspired by Cuban artist, Jose′ Fuster, to reflect the connection between the mathematical constant of pi and his unique artistic talent. Students working in diverse project teams will use engineering design concepts to transform broken tile pieces as they learn about how Fuster through art was able to rebuild his hometown of Jaimanitas on the outskirts of Havana. Students enrolled in Introduction to Civil Engineering (CE 1000) and 2-D Design and Color Theory (ART 1100), KWIM or SWE club members, and other interested KSU students will create 12x12 inch tile compositions that will then be assembled in a 100 square foot mosaic and displayed within the Johnson Library. The project will expand participants’ cultural knowledge of Cuba and connections between engineering, mathematics, and art. Much like Fuster, students will draw from inspiration to create pieces of art that connect to their lived and educational experiences as they learn from Fuster’s example of using personal talents to rebuild and revitalize communities, at home and abroad. This experience will also enrich students’ interest in and understanding of Cuba.

 Cuban Classical Ballet

In the Spring of 2020 the Department of Dance will host Eriberto Jimenez, the artistic director of Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami for a week-long artistic residency. While in residence, Mr. Jimenez will guest teach several courses including Ballet Technique, Dance Pedagogy, Dance History and Dance in Society. These sessions will introduce and expose KSU Dance students to Cuban ballet’s unique style of training by working directly with an expert on the technique. Additionally, Mr. Jimenez will give a lecture on the role of ballet in Cuba, publicized and open to the entire campus community. This lecture and discussion will help participants to gain an understanding of the history of ballet in Cuba and its role in the history of dance. Revered by many, the methods of training Cuban ballet dancers has remained a mystery. This program provides students the opportunity to expand their technical training and deepen their understanding of dance history. Working with Mr. Jimenez will allow students to connect their own training to that of dancers around the world and see themselves as global artists and citizens.

Theatrical & Cinematic Performances in the Cuban Diaspora

This spotlight features a series of two dynamic programs, “Chico y Rita: A Night with Limara Meneses” and “Teatro Avante: Two Cubas on the Stage” emphasizing interdisciplinary approaches to explore theater and cinematic arts in Cuba. Directly engaging students from classes such as LALS 3770/FILM 3220: Latin American Cinema, TPS 1107: Theatre in Society, and HIST 3358: Africans in Latin America and the Caribbean, these spring semester events highlight the diverse cultures that influence artistry and creative trends in Cuban performing arts. A key theme of this collaboration is to examine the cultural creativity and innovation that emerges from a sociopolitical context of deprivation and political marginalization. First, there will be a campus-wide screening of the Academy Award nominated film Chico y Rita followed by in-depth discussion with the co-star Limara Meneses. Meneses will talk about playing Rita in the film and her role as an actress in other films, the complexity of Afro-Cuban identity, and other issues related to the Cuban Diaspora. The second program will be a theatrical performance of En Ningún Lugar del Mundo (Nowhere in the World) and a talkback by Teatro Avante. The play focuses on the relationships between Cubans in Miami and Havana. Students will watch the play, sample Afro-Cuban/Caribbean food, and participate in a roundtable discussion with the founder of the group (Mario Nesto Sanchez) and the five member cast. Importantly, this program explores issues of race, gender, and Cuba’s contemporary connections throughout the African Diaspora. We will explore the global discourses flowing through Cuba and Cuban performing arts, tracing the impact and resurgence of Russian influences like Konstantin Stanislavski, Anton Chekhov, and others. Students will explore how contemporary trends of globalization in poetry, music, film, and television have shaped Cuban history and life. As a result, participants will be able to identify contributions Cuba has made to film, theatre, global music, and the evolution of jazz; better understand the complexity of Cuban identity in Cuba and throughout the diaspora; discuss intersections of race, class, gender in Cuban history; and explore the intersection of African American and Afro-Cuban histories to better appreciate the global varieties of black identity during Black History month.