The Puerto Rican Paradox: Challenges and Opportunities in Uncertain Times
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a tropical paradise boasting vibrant communities, rich cultures, and abundant natural resources. Once coined a “natural jewelry box” by the BBC, Puerto Rico offers sparkling turquoise waters, bioluminescent bays, lush mountainous terrain, and colorful colonial architecture. It is also plagued by a debilitating debt crisis, political corruption, and a crumbling infrastructure, which, particularly in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, have caused many residents to flee the island in search of better opportunities and more stable living conditions. In this course, students will examine the paradox that is Puerto Rico. Drawing from literature on culture, history, power, and politics, students will research a topic of their choosing, with the professor’s approval. They will then work with local communities in Puerto Rico on a project of mutual interest and importance, culminating in an approach or proposal for addressing the issue(s) at hand. Students will be required to spend 5 days on-site in Puerto Rico, plus any necessary travel time. This course will give students broad exposure to the history and culture of Puerto Rico, in addition to a nuanced understanding of a specific industry, issue, or problem. It will additionally highlight the power, privilege, and oppression that exists in our own backyards on this U.S. Commonwealth island.
Due to Covid-19, students registered for GS 4800 will not be traveling to Puerto Rico. Please contact your advisor for more details.