about us

More about Dr. Joseph L. Scarpaci

The Center draws on award-winning scholarly research to examine contemporary cultural and economic topics. Dr. Joe Scarpaci has made 90 trips to the island, and therefore positions the Center in cultural and bridwatching travel. Our programs provide meaningful engagement with the people of Cuba as stipulated by Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Treasury. Unlike other organizations, we provide you with more than just a tour guide. Our docent-led trips engage, enlighten, and enliven. 

We consult on background, production, translation, and episode writing and production for cultural and economic documentaries on Cuba. See the award-winning documentary, Soy Cubana, for a recent example.

See this article from National Public Radio's June 24, 2014 feature on Cubans and Cuban -Americans and their remittance connections here. Also, the April 30, 2013 New York Times article where Dr. Scarpaci is quoted on the Cuban real-estate market. Read this Associated Press piece quoting The Center about small-biz development in Old Havana, July 16, 2012 and this one from September 2012 about the need to create jobs for Cuban college graduates. A 2016 Atlantic Monthly quoted our expertise in marketing and cultural travel. 

Joe Scarpaci has been involved with cultural and educational travel to Cuba since 1991. Since then, he introduced more than 900 students, faculty, alumni, and interested travelers to the island. In the course of his 88 trips, he has cultivated a number of professional and personal friendships with Cubans of all stripes and colors, and from many walks of life including architecture, planning, design, entrepreneurship, art history, dance, and other fields.

His purpose is to show travelers the many nuances of Cuban culture and economy.

He is the author of four books and dozens of articles about Cuba. These includeCuban Landscapes: Heritage, Memory and Place (with Cuban geographer Dr. Armando Portela, New York: Guilford, 2009); Plazas & Barrios: Heritage Tourism and Globalization in the Latin American Centro Histórico(University of Arizona Press, 2005); Havana: Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis (London and Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002, with Cuban architects. Dr. Mario Coyula Cowley (Emeritus Professor of Architecture, CUJAE) and Dr. Roberto Segre (Emeritus Research Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro). Routledge Press's Advances in Management + Business Studies publish his co-authored work, Marketing without Advertising: Consumer Choice and Brand Preference in Cuba.

Dr. Scarpaci is the Executive Director of the Center. In 2014-15, he was Senior Fellow/Madame Marie Curie COFUND Scholar at the Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. He is also the former Chair and Associate Professor of Marketing of the Department of Marketing and Management at West Liberty University, West Liberty, WV. He is also Emeritus Professor of Geography, and was also on the Urban Affairs and Planning faculty for 15 years, at Virginia Tech. He has also taught at Rutgers University, The University of Iowa, The University of Florida, and the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico (Bayamón). He has held Fulbright teaching and research awards in Chile (twice), Uruguay, and Colombia (twice). Students on his study abroad programs have been introduced to Chile (1988-1994), the Dominican Republic (2005-06), and Cuba (1991-2004, 2011-present). 

He holds a Certificate in Marketing Management from the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, which was awarded by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). His doctorate is from The University of Florida where he earned a Certificate in Latin American Studies. Penn State awarded him a M.S. in Geography (minor, demography) and he took a B.A. in Geography at Rutgers University, Livingston College in Geography (minor, agronomy). He is an active member of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, The Latin American Studies Association, American Marketing Association, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, the Association of American Geographers, and the American Evaluation Association.

His was the book review Editor of the Journal of Latin American Geography for the past decade and serves on several editorial board of the Annals of the Association of American GeographersEstado, Sociedad y Territorio and The Southeastern Geographer. He has reviewed research proposals, book manuscripts, and refereed journal articles for more than 80 entities. The National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Social Science Research Council, National Institute for Health, and the Fulbright Commission have funded his Latin American research. Clients for whom he has consulted include: Exile Productions, The American Geographical Society, National Geographic, Virginia Commonwealth University - College of Engineering, The Pan American Health Organization, Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine, The Ecuadorian Ministry of Patrimony, The City of Cuenca (Ecuador), The Urban Institute, The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, Eastern Regional Hotel Association (Dominican Republic), American Council of Education, World Affairs Council of Los Angeles, World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, The Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, among others.

For the past ten years he has been the Regional Editor (Geography) for contributions on 'The Caribbean' for the Library of Congress's Handbook of Latin American Studies