Every week since late January, our group of 30 has gathered on the fourth floor of Warren Hall to discuss Cuba – its culture, its history, and its future. Led by the inimitable Professor Bruce Kogut (and his fearless sidekick, Lodovico), we have been fortunate to have been exposed to a wide range of literature and numerous distinguished guest speakers – including Provost John Coatsworth and Dr. Margaret Crahan of SIPA.
The core focus of our course – and the lens through which we have viewed Cuba – is that of an economy in transition. Our holistic approach to the subject has allowed us to explore a wide range of topics: the legacy of Spanish colonialism, the decline of the Castro regime, and a Russian case study in privatization of state-owned real estate – to name a few. We hope that a thorough understanding of Cuba’s past and the transitions of its formerly communist peers will allow us to better contextualize and assess the promise of economic reforms today.
And with that, we’re off to Havana!
Some of the questions we hope to answer over the course of the next week are:
- How do the Cuban people view their neighbors? The U.S.? Venezuela?
- How has life changed since the introduction of 3G cellular service on the island? What has stayed the same?
- How do private citizens view themselves in the context of broader economic reforms? Is it a “reform or out” mentality? Or is there a “third way” between capitalism and Cuba’s communist past?
On a slightly more whimsical note, we’re also looking forward to jazz clubs, salsa dancing, and riding in classic cars. And of course, we wouldn’t be MBA candidates if we weren’t interested in any potential business opportunities down the line…
Stay tuned for answers to the above questions and more!
Casey Buckley is a 2020 MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School