Embargoed exchanges: A critical analysis of emerging market dynamics in U.S. and Cuban academic exchange

Taylor C. Woodman


Internationalization continues to remain a central focus within the U.S. university environment. The motives of internationalization are under question as neoliberal policies continue to limit sustained, long-term state funding for universities and undermine the academic mission of universities. Universities are leveraging internationalization practices, like study abroad programming, in response to the pressures of neoliberalism. In this study, qualitative case study methods were used to critically examine study abroad programming between the United States (US) and Cuba before, during, and after the Obama Administration’s announcement changing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba on December 17, 2014. The perspectives of 12 of the main actors in the field, including educational administrators and faculty from U.S. universities, Cuban universities, and study abroad program providers, were captured to provide a more comprehensive view of study abroad implementation in Cuba.  The findings illustrate the influences of the neoliberal university environment in which study abroad programming is situated. These findings point to the prioritization of a market-based approach to study abroad programming, which amplifies inequities and power dynamics within north-south study abroad programs.  


Study Abroad; Internationalization; Neoliberalism; U.S. & Cuba Relations; Higher Education

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.27.3903

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