Next month, University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus instructor Dr. Greg Bradley will make his ninth trip to Cuba as an economics educator and conference presenter. With every passing visit, Bradley finds himself as much a student as he is a teacher.
Bradley will represent the Southern Miss College of Business as a lecturer and panelist during the Hominis 2016 conference, set for May 7-15 in Havana. He will be joined by professors from the University of Havana and the University of Vienna (Austria) to discuss the convergence of economics and psychology.
Bradley notes that his purpose and perspective has changed measurably since an initial visit to the Caribbean nation in 2013 as part of a delegation from the American Orthopsychiatric Association.
“Our objective in the beginning was to get closer to what looked to be the origin of a major sociopolitical and economic transformation,” said Bradley, who has a full-time clinical appointment in the Southern Miss Department of Management and International Business. “Indeed, each time we visit much has changed since the last visit, and we’ve been able to catalogue those changes. I’ve learned that the Cuban people are bright, gregarious, inquisitive, and very knowledgeable about the United States. They have a unique ability to separate politics from people.”
For more than 50 years the U.S. and Cuba have endured a strained relationship. Trade embargoes imposed by the U.S. still exist today against the Communist-controlled country. However, optimism for renewed diplomatic ties saw an up-tick with President Barack Obama’s trip to Cuba last month. Obama’s appearance marked the first time that a sitting U.S. president had visited Cuba in more than 80 years.
Economic reform has been slow, but steady, in Cuba over the past several years. Bradley expressed that he is both encouraged and concerned about the ongoing reformation.
“I believe the movement is in the right direction, but one has to be cautious about a growing income disparity and potential inflationary pressures as dual currencies become conflated and eventually merge into a single unit,” he said. “It is my hope that those with the least opportunity are not forgotten.”
While participating in a 2013 conference, Bradley was introduced to the dean of psychology at the University of Havana who inquired about his interest in returning as a guest lecturer. Since that initial meeting, Bradley has presented three lectures in behavioral economics at the university – each lasting a full week (25-40 hours) – to post-graduate students.
Dr. Faye Gilbert, dean of the College of Business at Southern Miss, points out that Bradley’s connections in Cuba have helped solidify the University’s reputation as a leader in the Gulf South region.
“At a time when Cuba is in the news, it is worth noting that Dr. Bradley has been developing an academic partnership for a number of years with what can be seen as an emerging market there,” said Gilbert. “The value of his insight is evident by the number of return invitations he has received as a lecturer. The College of Business is proud of his outreach efforts in Cuba.”
A native of Pascagoula, Miss., Bradley recalls a fascination with foreign countries and cultures dating back to his childhood days. In addition to serving as a member of the Southern Miss faculty since 2008, he also owns The Bradley Research Group -- a behavioral research firm specializing in measuring consumer behavior.
He has been the principal investigator/primary researcher on more than 1,000 private and public research projects related predominately to either evaluating the relationships between and among employee/customer behavior and firm performance or measuring the economic impact of prescribed events.
Bradley’s expertise has taken him around the globe as a lecturer and consultant. And while he often needs an interpreter to convey his message, Bradley points out that empathy is a language understood by people everywhere.
“For me, it is exciting to experience new cultures, embed one’s self in the home country’s culture in lieu of observing as an outsider, and connect with people who are observably different,” he said. “My experience has always been that if you honestly embrace their culture, accept their way of life and social mores, and do your best to communicate on their terms, you’re welcomed with open arms.”
Bradley views his upcoming visit to Cuba next month as the extension of a vision shared by all members of the Southern Miss College of Business.
“This type of international engagement and constituency is at the very origin of our mission in the College of Business,” said Bradley. “Our mission is to be the leader in the Gulf South region, and one of our primary goals is to promote innovation opportunities and global connections. It is my intent to continue to nurture these relationships, observe at close range, formally communicate the sociopolitical and economic changes occurring in Cuba over time, and perhaps develop some type of formal relationship between Southern Miss and the University of Havana at the right time.”
For more information about the Southern Miss College of Business on the Hattiesburg campus, call 601.266.4659 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/business and on the Gulf Park campus call 228.214.3447 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/business