Sample HIST 277-The Caribbean Since Columbus Syllabus

HIST 277  “The Caribbean Since Columbus” | College Now

Prof. Mahalia Méhu

Course Catalog Description: 

This course will endeavor to present and explain historical accounts of the experiences of peoples in the Caribbean from European colonization to the present. Particular emphasis will be placed on socio-economic and political problems. Preq: ENG 125

Upon completion of the course students will be able to:
  1. Explore the Caribbean’s many diversities and commonalities, their origins and consequences on the region’s socio-economy and politics.
  2. Explore connections with other regions and peoples over time.
  3. Understand and critique historical and current models of political economy and their impact on the Caribbean since Columbus’ “discovery”.
  4. Understand and critique historical and current models of human relationships and attitudes toward the Caribbean.

Class Books/Materials:  

Any assignments listed and not within the material provided will be put on blackboard under the class documents folder by date; which includes any necessary links for films and videos. Note: You are responsible for reading any assigned materials before the date on the syllabus where they appear.

Course Sources: 

The material to be covered is sourced from a combination of visual, auditory and physical sources. With the primary source being: Gibson, Carrie. Empire’s Crossroads: The Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day. Pan Macmillan, 2014. ISBN: 0802124313 / 9780802124319


  • History & Culture Papers (3): 4pg. Papers; see below for details. (40% of the grade)
  • Participation/Quizzes: (35% of the grade)
    • There will be a quiz every week for the corresponding material.
  • Final Examination: Date & Time TBA (25% of the grade)

Use of the Writing Center will count as the only EXTRA CREDIT for this class and NO LATE assignments will be accepted!

Course Schedule:

Week 1 Topic – A Passage to the Indies
Week 2 Topic – Stepping Stones to the New World
Week 3 Topic – Pirates and Protestants
Week 4 Topic – Sugar + Paper 1 Due (date)
Week 5 Topic – The Rise of Slavery
Week 6 Topic – Haiti, or the Beginning of the End
Week 7 Topic – Cuba and the Contradictions of Freedom
Week 8 Topic – Banana Wars and Global Battles + Paper 2 Due (date)
Week 9 Topic – The Road to Independence
Week 10 Topic – The Cold War in the Tropics
Week 11 Topic – Island Life
Week 12 Topic – Import/Export + Paper 3 Due (date)
Week 13 Topic – Invented Paradise
Week 14 Final Review

History & Culture Papers:

You’ll choose one of the following Caribbean countries to study over the course of the semester: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti and Puerto Rico. Over the course of the semester you’ll submit three 4-page research papers on pre-assigned aspects of the history and culture of that country.


  • From Slavery to Emancipation: Cash Crops & Freedom | Due: date
    • How did genocide of indigenous groups create wealth? How and by whom were these policies and frameworks justified?
    • When and why did slavery begin in your country? Who profited from slavery? Why is the transition from enslavement to freedom “troubled”?
    • What are the colonial legacies of slave ownership, after abolition, to slave owners and others?
  • Nation-Building: Sovereignty & Inequality | Due: date
    • What role did debt play in the struggles for independence and your country’s nation-building processes?
    • What was the impact of colonial institutions in the state building process and how did these help or hinder these processes?
    • How did economic inequality affect the economic and political development of said nation?
  • Help or Hinder? : Disaster & Opportunistic Aid | Due: date
    • What is “aid” and what is its history in the Caribbean? What is the relationship between natural disasters and climate change and how has this contributed to the Caribbean debt?
    • How does international aid for disaster recovery hinder recovery and post-disaster change in your country? How has the existing debt affected the response of your country to natural disasters?
    • When did climate justice movements start growing and what has been the key achievements of these movements? If there has not been such a movement in your country: Why is that the case? Is there a possibility or grounds for such a moment to arise? Why or why not?


Plagiarism is stealing the words and ideas of someone else. If you copy sentences from a book, a magazine article, newspaper, encyclopedia, or any other printed source and do not put quotation marks around the sentences, you are plagiarizing. If you paraphrase the sentence (put the ideas into your own words) but do not show where you got the ideas, you are plagiarizing. Be aware that plagiarism of any kind is grounds for immediate failure and can have lasting effects on your academic career.


The instructor will take attendance during every class period.  Although the instructor will not punish students who miss class or who arrive late, a habitual pattern of tardiness or absences likely will be reflected in the student’s grade.  In other words, if you are not in class, your chances of success greatly decrease.  When you attend class, please be considerate of others; in particular, please mute your cell phones and tablets.  In addition to this statement, the College’s attendance policy is clearly articulated in the college Bulletin, a copy of which is online.


© 2020. This work is licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

Licensed by Mahalia Méhu under a Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike 4.0 International License.


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The Caribbean Since Columbus Copyright © 2020 by Mahalia Mehu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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