University at Albany
In the classroom with Vladimir Paspuel (second from left) from the immigrant rights group Rumiñahui


Bienvenido a España

In June of 2015, seven State University of New York (SUNY) students — including five from Rockefeller College — embarked on a comparative study of urban politics and migration in Madrid, Spain. This unique international learning opportunity was organized and led by Rockefeller College Associate Professor of Political Science José Cruz. “

Standing before Goya’s El Prendimiento
de Cristo at the Cathedral of St. Mary of
Toledo with Carlos Vela (third from left)
from the Institute Internacional
Part of my ancestry is rooted in Spain and I’ve been interested in Spanish politics and culture for quite some time,” explained Professor Cruz. “After several years of touching upon the Spanish immigration experience and the presence of Latinos in Spain in my Latino Politics course, and after a month-long trip to Spain and Italy in 2013, I decided it was time to go deeper academically into that part of my background and to do it in a way that combined teaching and research.”

This summer, Professor Cruz will once again offer undergraduates the opportunity to study abroad in Spain’s beautiful and historic cosmopolitan capital where they will take two 3-credit courses examining urban politics, with a focus on social movements, and Latin American migration, comparing Spain and the United States, and Madrid and New York. Formal classes will take place at Instituto Internacional in Madrid. The students’ second classroom will be the streets, plazas, and neighborhoods of the city where they will observe first-hand the impact of immigration and urban politics.

At the Plaza de Toros Las Ventas, Madrid,
(from right) Kathleen Soriano, Jena Ramon,
Amanda Byam, and Amrita Maniram
“Our projects were interactive and gave us the chance to find out more about the people living in Madrid directly from the inhabitants themselves,” said Amanda Byam reflecting on her 2015 study trip to the Spanish capital. “That allowed me to think from a different perspective.”

Amrita Maniram, an undergraduate from SUNY Geneseo, recalled, “Learning about the rich history and culture of Spain was exciting in and of itself, but actually being there allowed me to appreciate what I was learning more than I ever could have in a regular classroom.”

Madrid seems to have left a lasting impression on all the professor's students. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my time in Madrid,” said undergraduate Kathleen Soriano. “The study abroad program will transform you in ways that your usual academic setting simply cannot.”

Professor Cruz’s study abroad program is open to all UAlbany students and alumni. For more information, please visit

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 Rockefeller College News Magazine.