September 9, 2010
WOOSTER, Ohio — An inside look at Cuba’s surprisingly successful literacy campaign, its effect on the country’s educational system, and models for community development will be presented by a group of faculty members at The College of Wooster’s first Faculty at Large lecture of the fall semester on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 11 a.m. in Lean Lecture Room of Wishart Hall (303 E. University St.).
Nine Wooster faculty members spent 10 days in Havana in May as part of the Hales Fund Faculty Travel Experience, an annual program that begins as a reading group in the fall and concludes with a trip abroad in the spring.
“We began by examining questions of poverty, community development, and children,” said Heather Fitz Gibbon, dean for faculty development and professor of sociology and anthropology at Wooster. “ In particular, we were interested in finding out what sorts of communities nurture children well,
provide strong educational systems, and decrease child poverty.“
In Cuba, they found many answers, but also encountered more questions. "We decided to travel
to Cuba because it is an entirely different system with a near 100-percent literacy rate and a universal education system,” said Fitz Gibbon. “We were curious to learn how they accomplished this, how they define literacy, and the effect of these literacy efforts on the educational system and on the communities.”
During their stay, they visited the literacy museum, neighborhood organizations, schools, the teacher's union, a medical school, and a rural community focused on ecological sustainability. They also spent time walking about Havana to get a sense of the city.
"Cuba is complex, diverse, and multi-layered,” said Fitz Gibbon. “The vestiges of the various
waves of political and economic control are physically present — the Spanish haciendas, the coffee plantations, the hotels built by the Mafia and by U.S. corporations, and the Soviet Embassy. We cannot say that based on our brief visit that we understand or know Cuba, but we certainly have more informed questions.”
The next Faculty at Large lecture will be Tuesday, Oct. 12, when Bridget Milligan, associate professor of studio art at Wooster, presents "Fireside Tales: New Illustrations of Irish Folklore.” Additional information about the Faculty at Large lecture series is available by phone (330-263-2576) or e-mail.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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