Puerto Rico Lab (2018-2020)

The Puerto Rico Lab’s thematic focus is on sustainability, citizenship and communication


  • climate, climate change, interaction between humans and weather/geography;
  • institutions and infrastructure;
  • natural resources,
  • public health,
  • local (vs. globalized visions of) arts/culture


  • belonging and identity, colonialism and sovereignty, and migration/diaspora;
  • civil society before and after María;
  • political relationship between Puerto Rico and the mainland;
  • democratic participation, social justice/equality, decoloniality,
  • civil discourse, and ethics of economic development,
  • recovery and investment


  • discourse and power, intercultural communication;
  • bilingualism and translation;
  • journalism, digital storytelling, travel writing;
  • relationship among social and political structures, language and power, and media

The Puerto Rico Lab's objectives include: 

  • stimulate and support students’ creativity and inquiry
  • build students’ skills in humanities methodologies
  • foster an interest in the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico
  • contribute to the local (New Hampshire)/regional (New England) understanding of the crisis and recovery in Puerto Rico
  • grow UNH’s capacity in Caribbean Studies
  • build ties with Puerto Rican communities in New England
  • reinforce the relationship between COLA and UNH’s Latinx student community

The Puerto Rico Lab’s learning outcomes:

  • define aspects of the evolving and multifaceted challenges facing Puerto Rico,
  • describe the sociohistorical and political context of the current crisis,
  • communicate effectively in a variety of contexts on the topic of Puerto Rico,
  • understand the value of the Humanities in responding to the intertwined challenges of sustainability, citizenship, and communication, and
  • articulate the skills that they have gained through the experience.

Puerto Rico Lab Faculty

  • Holly Cashman & Scott Weintraub (co-directors), Spanish Program, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, College of Liberal Arts (COLA)
  • Clara Castro Ponce, Spanish Program, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, College of Liberal Arts (COLA)
  • Daniel Chávez, Spanish Program, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, College of Liberal Arts (COLA)
  • Lori Hopkins, Spanish Program, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, College of Liberal Arts (COLA)
  • Lucía Montás, Spanish Program, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, College of Liberal Arts (COLA)
  • Mauricio Pulecio, Spanish Program, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, College of Liberal Arts (COLA)

Around COLA and Across UNH

  • Tom Haines, Journalism Program, English, College of Liberal Arts ( COLA) 
  • Mary Stampone, Geography, College of Liberal Arts (COLA) 
  • Rosemary Taylor, Nursing, College of Health & Human Services ( HHS) 

Courses linked to the Puerto Rico Lab

Fall 2018 Activities:

Kick-off and commemoration on September 20, 2019 (the anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane María)
Prof. Mary Stampone (COLA, Geography) brownbag talk “Climate Change & Hurricanes – what to expect” Oct. 10, 2018
Puerto Rican poet Dr. Carmen Ana Pont, who presented "Invisible Ink: On Translating the Undertow of Poetry” (November 7, 2018)
UNH alum Michael K Lavers (Journalism & Spanish double major), an award-winning journalist, who talked about “Covering Hurricane María & the LGBTQ Community in Puerto Rico” guest lecture Nov. 15, 2018 with Prof. Tom Haines’ climate reporting class UNH alum Michael K.

Spring 2019 Activities:  

Prof. María Acosta Cruz (Clark University) gave a lecture titled “Dream Nation and Beyond: Puerto Rican Culture Post-María” March 19
Prof. Holly Cashman and Dr. Mauricio Pulecio hosted drop-in mentoring on “Doing humanities: humanities research methods, tools, projects, & questions” during the academic year.
URC presentations related to Puerto Rico Lab:

  • Brigid Carr (Spanish, IA): “Poetics of Recovery - Gender and Race Relations in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters in the Greater Caribbean” (Lori Hopkins)
  • Isabelle Banker (Biomedical Science): “Infectious Disease Monitoring and Access to Care in post-Hurricane Puerto Rico (September 2017)” (Lucía Montás)
  • Katherine G Heaney (English Teaching/Spanish): “Accent Distinctions within the Spanish Language: Focusing on Puerto Rico” (Holly Cashman)

Fall 2019 Activities:

Prof. Salvador Vidal-Ortiz (American University) facilitated a workshop titled “Learning to Document (Your) Community’s Experience: Oral Histories and Archives” Oct. 3
Student research projects

Spring 2020 Activities:

Documentary film ‘festival’ and closing event - April 8 (cancelled due to covid-19)
Collapse with director Dr. Nelson Varas-Díaz
DisemPOWERed with director Sandy Smith-Nonini
URC presentations related to the Puerto Rico Lab:

  • How Can We Make U.S. Schools Culturally Inclusive?: A Puerto Rico Lab Exploration 
    Kyra Lane D'entremont (Senior/Educational Studies, Spanish) & Emma Anderson Danais (Senior/Educational Studies, Spanish)(Holly R Cashman & Scott E Weintraub)
  • Adolescents' Experience of Hurricane Maria: A Humanities-Informed Participatory Youth Advocacy Project
    Caitlin N Durnbaugh Junior/Human Development and Family Studies, Spanish (Holly R Cashman & Erin H Sharp)
  • What Did We Learn From Natural Disasters Like Hurricane Maria Which Allow Us to Improve Communication Systems For Deaf Individuals and Communities in Natural Disasters?
    Luisa Bomfim Junior/Communication Science & Disorders (CHHS) (Holly R Cashman)