Cuba Futures Initiative


The one-day colloquium organized by the Bildner Center explored the extent and character of the Cuba’s reform process since 2011. Specialists  focused on the external context, responses to US policy change, the state and non-state sectors, agriculture, local development, and other. The discussions  emphasized current trends, options, and prospects.



The 2015 Colloquium provided an update on the evolving policies and the structural and institutional changes in progress in 2015. The colloquium closed with a review of policy and research implications.



Fifteen specialists from the University of Havana, CUNY, AZCUBA, The World Bank, and other institutions provided an update on current economic dynamics, the changing state sector, foreign investment, the Mariel special economic zone, cooperatives and self-employment, agricultural and prospects for the sugar sector, and other reforms.


2013 colloquium

After 2008 the presidency of Raúl Castro took steps to revamp the highly centralized form of socialism for which Cuba had been known. Though Cuba’s Actualización draws from other experiences of socialist reform, it appears to be a distinctive approach. The Cuba Project/Bildner Center Colloquium provided an update on the evolving policies and the structural and institutional changes in progress in 2013. The colloquium closed with a review of policy and research implications.



The 2012 Cuba Futures Initiative provided an update on the evolving policies and the structural and institutional changes in progress in 2012. The colloquium closed with a review of policy and research implications.


2011 Cuba Futures: Past and Present

An international and interdisciplinary symposium organized by the Bildner Center aimed at exploring Cuba’s past, present, and future. Since the early part of the 19th century, Cuban intellectuals, political leaders, civil society organizations and institutions have created multiple visions, projects and blueprints for building an independent Cuba. These visions, while they may clash with each other, fail to attract support, and/or occasionally induce change consensually perceived as desirable, have generated legacies that stand and shape realities, memories, perceptions, and diverse plans for reforming Cuba.



The dynam­ics of con­tem­po­rary Cuba – the cul­ture, the peo­ple, and the pol­i­tics – was the focus of a three-day sym­po­sium at the Grad­u­ate Cen­ter. The con­fer­ence fea­tured over 700 par­tic­i­pants from around the world. Thirty-five pan­els pre­sented per­spec­tives from the social sci­ences and eco­nom­ics, the arts and the human­i­ties, and the world of pol­i­cy­mak­ers to pro­vide a diverse look into var­i­ous aspects of change in Cuba. The open­ing ple­nary “Cur­rent Dynam­ics, Chang­ing Per­spec­tives,” fea­tured Pro­fes­sor Jorge Domínguez, For­mer U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Cuba Vicki Hud­dle­ston, and Cana­dian Econ­o­mist Archibald Rit­ter. A sec­ond ple­nary on Cuba and the media brought together dis­tin­guished jour­nal­ists from The New York Times, CNN, The Econ­o­mist, and the Miami Her­ald. The third and final ple­nary included pol­i­cy­mak­ers from Mex­ico, the U.S. Depart­ment of State, and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The con­fer­ence also included film screen­ings, book pre­sen­ta­tions, and a con­cert by the Cu-NY Latin Jazz Ensemble.



This inter­na­tional sym­po­sium focused on the Cuban real­ity from the early 1990s through 2006, pre­sent­ing research on the nature of changes under­way in eco­nom­ics, pol­i­tics and pol­icy mod­els, civil soci­ety, art and lit­er­a­ture, race rela­tions, and national iden­tity and cul­ture, as well as Cuba’s role in world affairs. In four­teen pan­els and var­i­ous other spe­cial events, the expert par­tic­i­pants in this sym­po­sium exam­ined var­i­ous ques­tions regard­ing the pos­si­bil­ity and the real­i­ties of tran­si­tion, eco­nomic and oth­er­wise, in Cuba.



Cuba Today explored con­tem­po­rary Cuban real­ity since the early 1990s. The cri­sis of state social­ism after 1989 chal­lenged pre-existing poli­cies, prac­tices, and assump­tions, pro­vid­ing incen­tives for reform. Many areas of social life have expe­ri­enced con­sid­er­able change, while lega­cies of the rev­o­lu­tion endure. The sym­po­sium probed pat­terns of con­ti­nu­ity and change in eco­nom­ics, pol­i­tics and pol­icy, civil soci­ety, art and lit­er­a­ture, race rela­tions and national iden­tity, and Cuba’s role in world affairs.



At its birth, sev­eral lead­ers of the new Cuban Repub­lic and insti­tu­tions vied for artic­u­lat­ing Cuban iden­tity, the state, and civil soci­ety. One legacy in par­tic­u­lar, the nation­al­ist and polit­i­cal ideas of José Martí, took a cen­tral stage among the fol­low­ers of the Cuban sep­a­ratist mar­tyr and “apostle.”



This sym­po­sium focused on the life and work of Fer­nando Ortiz to explore the com­plex and fer­tile rela­tion­ship between his work and Cuban his­tory, cul­ture, and the arts. This con­fer­ence probed Ortiz’s vast oeu­vre and pro­vided a timely and provoca­tive reassess­ment of his legacy.



The col­lapse the for­mer Soviet Union left Cuba’s state social­ism fac­ing the chal­lenge of rein­te­gra­tion into a largely cap­i­tal­ist world soci­ety. This con­fer­ence exam­ined the chal­lenges con­fronting Cuba as it seeks to develop insti­tu­tions and poli­cies needed for inter­na­tional “re-insertion.”