Dominican Republic & Cuba Field Research Program

Pro­gram Dates: 

Sum­mer 1, 2014: May 3 – June 2, 2014


The Field Research Pro­gram in the Domini­can Repub­lic & Cuba is a prac­ti­cal, hands-on, field research pro­gram built on the prin­ci­ples of the Grameen Bank model of micro-finance which empha­sizes group lia­bil­ity, social col­lat­eral, and sol­i­dar­ity with the poor. In Mod­ule 1, the pro­gram focuses on vil­lage bank­ing in rural com­mu­ni­ties called “bateyes” which are typ­i­cally com­prised of Hait­ian migrant sugar cane work­ers in the Domini­can Repub­lic. Stu­dents will also have the oppor­tu­nity visit micro­fi­nance asso­ciates and their busi­nesses in urban set­tings. In Mod­ule 2, stu­dents will com­pare and con­trast their expe­ri­ence of micro­fi­nance PLUS mod­els in the Domini­can Repub­lic with asso­ciates in Cuba, and explore how mod­ern day social­ism impacts the growth of small busi­nesses and entrepreneurship.

In Mod­ule 1, classes com­mence Mon­day through Fri­day for two weeks at the pre­mier busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy cam­pus in the Domini­can Repub­lic called INTEC (Insti­tuto Tec­no­logico de Santo Domingo). North­east­ern stu­dents will study side-by-side with local Domini­can and Hait­ian stu­dents enrolled in this elec­tive course. The aca­d­e­mic por­tion of the pro­gram includes top­ics of study such as social entre­pre­neur­ship, micro-enterprise devel­op­ment, micro-finance, and impact mea­sure­ment. Classes are sup­ple­mented with site vis­its to social busi­nesses through­out the coun­try, includ­ing other micro-finance orga­ni­za­tions, agri­cul­tural co-operatives, and devel­op­ment orga­ni­za­tions. Stu­dents will also be given the oppor­tu­nity to visit Esperanza’s micro­fi­nance PLUS pro­grams, such as their pub­lic health ini­ati­tives, edu­ca­tion pro­grams, and home improve­ment loan portfolio.

In the after­noon, stu­dents work “in the field” in either urban, semi-urban, or rural com­mu­ni­ties to inter­view cur­rent micro­fi­nance asso­ciates of Esper­anza Inter­na­tional , the University’s field part­ner in the Domini­can Repub­lic. Esper­anza is a lead­ing micro­fi­nance orga­ni­za­tion in the island of His­pan­iola and is an active Kiva field part­ner. The pur­pose for this field exer­cise is to col­lect both qual­i­ta­tive and quan­tatitve impact met­rics for Esper­anza to bet­ter under­stand how they are serv­ing their clients.

In this micro-consulting research project, stu­dents design a met­ric tool to assist Esper­anza with mea­sur­ing social impact for the organization’s 18,000 active bor­row­ers and $20m loan port­fo­lio. Stu­dents also cre­ate a final pre­sen­ta­tion with a deliv­er­able to include rec­om­men­da­tions to the senior man­age­ment for best practices.

In Mod­ule 2, stu­dents will travel to the island of Cuba, where they will learn about the his­tor­i­cal roots of social­ism in order to bet­ter under­stand the mod­ern day impli­ca­tions of busi­ness, entre­pre­neur­ship, and human devel­op­ment. Stu­dents will also visit his­tor­i­cal sites, meet with lead­ing econ­o­mists, visit urban farms and agri­cul­tural coop­er­a­tives, and learn from experts in Cuban pol­i­tics and his­tory. Stu­dents will also inter­view recip­i­ents of micro­fi­nance loans in Cuba, and con­trast their knowl­edge of micro­fi­nance in the Domini­can Repub­lic. Stu­dents will also have the oppor­tu­nity to com­pare and con­trast pub­lic health sys­tems and edu­ca­tion sys­tems in both coun­tries to bet­ter under­stand human cen­tered design in the role of development. 

This pro­gram is sup­ple­mented with ser­vice learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, as well as site vis­its, and week­end trips/excursions. 

To watch an infor­ma­tional video about the Domini­can Repub­lic Field Research Pro­gram, please visit: please visit:

Course Cred­its:

You will receive 8 semes­ter hours of aca­d­e­mic credit for this program:

Host Insti­tu­tion:

INTEC and Esper­anza Inter­na­tional 


  • Please note this pro­gram is only open to stu­dents with a min­i­mum 2.8 GPA. Stu­dents who do not meet this require­ment but still wish to apply must con­tact SEI at so addi­tional arrange­ments can be made to facil­i­tate a reference.
  • All stu­dents must attend sup­ple­men­tal inter­views in addi­tion to the online application.
  • Pro­fi­ciency of Span­ish lan­guage is not required but would be helpful.
  • Pref­er­ence is given to stu­dents who have com­pleted prior Social Entre­pre­neur­ship course­work (see full list here) or are enrolled in the Global Social Entre­pre­neur­ship minor.

IMPORTANT Update: Due to the high vol­ume of appli­cants, the lead fac­ulty mem­ber on this pro­gram is actively seek­ing stu­dents who under­stand the mis­sion of the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute. As such, stu­dents should under­stand a few key com­po­nents – this pro­gram is aca­d­e­m­i­cally rig­or­ous (expect day and peri­odic evening classes in addi­tion to field expe­ri­ence); this pro­gram is mission-driven all the time (expect com­mu­nity ser­vice at least one day of the week­end), and most impor­tantly, this pro­gram has high expec­ta­tions for mature stu­dents who under­stand that alco­hol con­sump­tion is not the “end all” for hav­ing a good time abroad. This does not mean that the pro­gram is “dry” (mean­ing alco­hol con­sump­tion is pro­hib­ited), but we expect that stu­dents will sign a con­tract for a self-enforced com­mit­ment to restricted alco­hol usage.

 If you have spe­cific ques­tions about these require­ments, please con­tact


In the Domini­can Repub­lic, stu­dents will stay in a Spanish-style hotel located in Zona Colo­nial, the his­tor­i­cal dis­trict of Santo Domingo. The hotel accom­mo­da­tions include break­fast daily, and free wi-fi access. Laun­dry is avail­able for a fee.

In Cuba, stu­dents will stay in a com­bi­na­tion of hotels, and bed & break­fast accom­mo­da­tions called “casa par­tic­u­lares” or home-stays through­out Havana and San­ti­ago de Cuba.

In the Domini­can Repub­lic, stu­dents will be based in Santo Domingo and travel to San Pedro, La Romana, Isla Saona, and Puerto Plata. In Cuba, stu­dents will be based either in Havana or San­ti­ago de Cuba.


Some infor­ma­tion posted here is ten­ta­tive and sub­ject to change based on costs and dates of avail­able flights. The web­site is updated as cur­rent infor­ma­tion becomes available.

Program Dates (tentative)
Summer 1, 2014:  May 3 – June 2, 2014

Group Leader
Dennis Shaughnessy and Gordon Adomdza

Application Deadline
November 15, 2013 (see OISP web­site for more details here)

Application Procedure 

Please apply via the OISP website, and use your NEU credentials to log-in. 

Important Note

The OISP $500 deposit for this program is a REFUNDABLE deposit. If you are not accepted to your first choice program, your deposit will be credited to your student account. If you are accepted, the deposit is applied to your tuition cost. If you are accepted, but chose not to participate, you will not receive your deposit back. For additional questions about this policy, please email 

Upcom­ing Info Ses­sions for 2013:

  • Thursday, October 17 from 6-7PM in 241 Forsyth Hall
  • Thursday, October 24 from 6-7PM in 225 Richards Hall 
  • Tuesday, October 29 from 6-7PM in 170 Dodge Hall RSVP HERE
  • Thursday, November 7 from 6-7PM in 225 Richards Hall RSVP HERE
  • Tuesday, November 12 from 6-7PM in 170 Dodge Hall RSVP HERE
  • Thursday, November 14 from 5-6PM in 425 Hayden Hall RSVP HERE

Dominican Republic Field Study
Program Documentary

Created by Michaela D’Amico