This April, Appalachian State University held the 6th Annual Global Opportunities Conference on “Cuba Today.” Attendees heard, first-hand, breaking news of the changes taking place in this island nation.
In the past five years, Cuba has been “updating” its economic model - opening to foreign investment, allowing Cubans the possibility of selling cars and homes, moving toward eliminating the dual currency system, and permitting increasing numbers of self-employed entrepreneurs.
Keynote Speaker - Dr. Humberto Blanco from the University of Havana, Cuba
Dr. Humberto Blanco, keynote speaker and director of the University of Havana’s Center for Research of the Cuban Economy, spoke about these changes and their ramifications for Cuban society, with particular emphasis on the “cuentapropistas” – those private business owners. Dr. Blanco joined two panel discussions: “Cuba Today: What is going on? Social and economic dynamics in strategic change” and “The Forbidden Island? International Dimensions in Cuba’s Transformational Process.”
Panel Discussions and Presentations
Along with Dr. Blanco, panels included perspectives from Appalachian State University’s Dr. Renee Scherlen, Professor of Political Science and Dr. Joseph Gonzalez professor of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies. Also UNC-Chapel Hill’s Dr. Rosa Perelmuter, professor of Hispanic Literature, and Saul Berenthal, Chief Operating Officer of Cuban Heritage Experiences, contributed their professional knowledge and personal experience as Cuban-Americans to the discussion. Dr. Renee Scherlen provided a context for the current changes in Cuba in her talk titled “Cuba and the US: How did we end up here?” Dr. Garner Dewey, Director of ASU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and Meredith Church Pipes, International Programs Coordinator for the Walker College of Business, gave an overview of Appalachian State University’s long-standing connection with Cuba.
The conference ended with an open forum on Cuba Today where participants asked panelists a broad range of questions in a more informal setting.
Feedback from Attendees
Attendees seemed to appreciate the first-hand perspective the keynote speaker and panelists were able to deliver. Some attendee comments included:
“[The Global Opportunities Conference] was by far the best event I've attended since beginning my studies at Appalachian” (Chelsea, Student). “We need more of this stuff in the world and, in the case of the Cuban tragedy of a divided people, this event has made a profound impression on me and has changed my mind set dramatically” (Raul, Community Member). “I am still telling people things I learned” (Tom, ASU staff).
This year’s event was sponsored by the Walker College of Business, University College and funds from the Quality Enhancement Plan.
Global Opportunities Conference 2015
The annual Global Opportunities Conference highlights innovative and entrepreneurial ways of addressing global challenges. The goal of the conference is to inspire students, faculty and the local community to use their knowledge and skills in the business of building a better world.
The 2015 Global Opportunities Conference on “Business for Good” will be held on Friday, April 10th, featuring keynote speaker Doc Hendley, 2009 CNN Hero and founder and president of “Wine to Water.” Check back for more details as the date approaches.
The annual Global Opportunities Conference highlights innovative and entrepreneurial ways of addressing global challenges. Our goal is to inspire students, faculty and the local community to use their knowledge and skills in the business of building a better world.