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U. expands programs in Cuba and Spain

After discontinuing the study abroad program in Egypt due to local unrest, the OIP diversifies options

The Office of International Programs has expanded its offerings to include a spring semester in Cuba and a physics program at the University of Cantabria in Spain, but its previously-offered fall semester in Egypt has been canceled due to deteriorating conditions in the nation.

Students now have the option to study abroad in Havana in either the fall or spring semester, as opposed to just the fall. The program was originally limited because the University had to work with the Department of the Treasury’s sanctions on travel to Cuba, according to Director of International Programs and Associate Dean of the College Kendall Brostuen.

“We wanted to be very careful about developing the program,” he said.

After students reported that the trips were “productive and enriching experiences,” the University decided to offer the program in the spring as well, Brostuen said.

The expansion of the Cuba program is part of a move to develop more study abroad opportunities based on the consortium model in Barcelona, Spain. The Consortium for Advanced Studies in Barcelona, which was created by eight U.S. universities, allows students to take classes at four institutions in Barcelona, according to the consortium’s website.

The University hopes to partner with other American colleges to develop a program in Cuba that “sets itself apart,” Brostuen said. The new program would include opportunities to study in Cuba for a full year and take courses at several different Cuban universities. Brostuen said he hopes to begin this expansion next fall.

Lily Hartmann ’17 said she’s excited about the possibility of a year-long trip to Cuba. “This is really a once in a lifetime opportunity,” she said. “When will I ever get the chance to go to Cuba?”

Through the program added for physics concentrators who want to study in Spain, physics concentrators will be able to take science classes in English while also learning Spanish in a required course at the University of Cantabria. This program has been developed to allow physics concentrators to study abroad while completing their rigorous concentration requirements, Brostuen said. Brown also offers a similar engineering program at the same university.

Science concentrators account for only 9 percent of students studying abroad, The Herald previously reported. By allowing students to complete their concentration requirements in English at foreign universities, Brostuen said he hopes to enable more STEM students to study abroad.

The School of Engineering and the Department of Physics encourage students to go abroad, Brostuen said. “They’re very open to it,” he said. “They understand the importance of an international dimension.”

A study abroad opportunity in Alexandria, Egypt, run by Middlebury College, was canceled this semester because of unsafe conditions in the country. Instead, students were given the chance to study in Amman, Jordan.

No Brown students signed up for the Egypt program so none were affected by this change, said Jeff Cason, dean of international programs at Middlebury. The spring program is still scheduled to be held in Alexandria, but Middlebury will decide in the next week whether to transfer the program to Amman instead. Middlebury will consider several “different factors” in the decision, including the “general security situation” in Egypt, Cason said. If students sign up to go to Egypt in the spring and the situation changes, they will again be given the choice to either go to Jordan or opt out and receive a full refund, Cason said.

Currently, the University prohibits students from studying abroad in Egypt and several other countries with severe U.S. State Department Travel Warnings . The University will reconsider Egypt’s situation in the coming months and decide whether it will remain on the OIP’s prohibited countries list, Brostuen said. In the unlikely event that Middlebury goes forward with the Egypt program but the country remains on the University’s list of prohibited countries, Brown students will not receive University approval or credit for the program, Brostuen said.


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