Ships: Nina, Pinta, Santa MariaCaribbean Environmental History


Thu 8/14/14  
map Caribbean history is among the most pivotal and misconstrued of subjects in world history. For those of you seeking an authentic academic challenge in knowing about the past this may be a very rewarding inquiry into the origins of your cultural heritage; including the legacies of religion, slavery, ethnic identity, and nature protection in the Americas. Together in this course we will explore several tiers of subjects concerning economic geography, diverse peoples, and an urgent need for understanding the consequences of settlement, the subsequent African and Asian Diasporas, and an uneasy tension between poverty and power in Mexico, Central America, & throughout the Caribbean.
The Americas: 1662, Dutch map.  

Expectations: In this discussion class participants more practically, will have opportunities to hone their skills in reading analytically, in verbally conveying their views based on the texts about biological conditions, ecological invasions, cultural imperialism, and ethnic identity in a supportive setting. You will be coached to better express your ideas in writing as you learn to analyze writing throughout the term. Especially in our class, I would hope you would experience the delight or enjoyment of being often moved by the profound power of ideas or articulate prose to lift your spirits, amend your behavior, nourish your more curious sensibilities, and even move you to act prudently as a means to improve both yourself and our world. Should your papers not include the texts, I reserve the option to give you an hour exam on the texts.

Grades: all assignments are graded with careful attention to each of these criteria:  {CLIFS}
            1. C      clarity, coherence, spelling, grammar & logical consistency
            2. L      length & development of your arguments, ideas, or presentations
            3. I       information from the class texts, library research, or interviews
            4. F      frequency of examples from the lectures, journal, notes & readings
            5. S      subjects developed as argued in a thesis; introduction, summaries, & conclusion.

Write the names and phone numbers of two other Active participants in the class:


1. _____________________________  2. _____________________________

August | September | October | November | December


Texts to read and use in essays:

Alfred Crosby, Germs, Seeds, and Animals.                 Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude.
Alfred Crosby, The Columbian Exchange.                   Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place.                  
Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power.                                  W.E.B. Dubois, The Negro.
Archie Carr, The Windward Road.                                          J. Siry, “Mangroves of the Tropic Seashores"

We will also analyze a sample of the arguments presented by some of these most thought-provoking authors, including Derek Walcott, Alfred Crosby, Jamaica Kincaid, W.E.B. Du Bois, Octavio Paz, Isabel Allende, Eduardo Galeano, Juno Diaz, Carl O. Sauer, Archie Carr, & even Christophoro Colombo, himself.



August | September | October | November | December

M         25      Studies in Ecological History: Crosby, Paz, Walcott, Mintz, & others.
W        27       Prestest - Scope, significance, & meaning of the Caribbean crucible
F          29       Derek Walcott, The Antilles

M         1, Labor Day Holiday, no class   
W        3, Crosby Germs, Seeds and Animals, The biology of imperialism, pp. vii-44.
F          5, Crosby Germs, Seeds and Animals, Cultural adaptations, pp. 45-81. 148-166.
M         8, Crosby Germs, Seeds and Animals, Ethnic character and identity, pp. 82-108
W        10, Our ethnicity - activity day: defining our personal and group cultural identities.
F          12, Crosby Germs, Seeds and Animals, National Character & fictions, pp. 167-179.

W        15, Crosby, The Columbian Exchange, mapping catastrophe, pp. ix-3-63.
W        17, Crosby, The Transformation, pp. 64-121.         
F          19, Crosby, The disease, pp. 122-164.    

M         22, Crosby, Hispaniola; The passing of the Arawak & Taino, pp. 165-207.
W        24, Crosby, Meaning of the Columbian Exchange, pp. 208-222.
F          26, Octavio Paz La Malinche: Is gender an excuse for betrayal? pp. 9-29, 65-88.

M         29,      Essay draft due: Consequences of the Columbian Exchange

W        1, Art museum, meet at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, view the collection.
F          3, Redrafted Crosby essay with Paz’s perspective due!

M         6, Du Bois, The West Indian Slave Trade, pp. 1-17, 76-118.
W        8, Du Bois, Slavery in the West Indies, pp. 119-136.
F          10, Discuss First Lecture on Moral Dilemma's of Slavery

M         Fall Break –Saturday, October 11-14 The Fall Break means No classes.

W        15, Mintz, Food, . . .  pp. xv-18 European colonial rivalry and scars of imperialism,
F          17, Mintz, Production,  pp. 19-73.

M         20, Mintz, Consumption, pp 74-150.
W        22,      Essay due on Slavery’s consequencesDu Bois, Walcott, Kincaid, Mintz, & others.
F          24, Mintz, Power, pp. 151-214.

M         27, Octavio Paz,       Mexican Masks pp, 29-46.
W        29, Octavio Paz,       Day of the Dead - pp. 47-64.
F          31, Dia de los Muertos

M         3, Paz on Colonialism & Catholicism, pp. 89-116.
W        5, Paz, Revolt 1820 to Revolution 1910, pp.117-150.
F          7, Octavio Paz as a mirror on Mexico & the Indies

M         10, Discuss Second Lecture on the Moral Dilemma’s of Slavery
W        12, Paz, The Dialectic of Solitude, pp. 195-220.
F          14, Mintz, Eating & Being, pp. 187-214 & contrast with Paz, pp. 238-283.

M         17, American Foreign Policy
W        19, Paz, pp. 284-325,  "Mexico & the Unites States", pp. 355-398.
F          21, Galleano, pp. ix-58. “War of the Worlds” Eduardo Galeano speaking

M         24, Galeano, pp. 11-58.
W        Thanksgiving Break

M         1, Jamaica Kincaid: Verbal Reports & interpretations
W        3, Verbal Reports
F          5, Verbal Reports

          Final Exam

August | September | October | November | December


Expectations for Student Learning outcomes for ecological history:
A Rollins student's submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student's own. All outside assistance should be acknowledged, and the student's academic acquisition of information truthfully reported at all times.



Course Requirements:

Items                                                            Percentage of Grade

Blackboard                                                                      5
Pretest                                                                              5
Reading and recitation                                               5
Active Class Participation                                       15
Writing                                                                          20
Writing                                                                          20
Final essay                                                                   20
Final presentation                                                     10


Percentage range for Grade Scale

93-96               A
90-91-92         A-
87-88-89         B+
83-84-85-86    B
80­-81-82         B-
77-78-79         C+
73-74-75-76    C
70-71-72         C-
67-68-69         D+
63-64-64-66    D
60-61-62         D-
            59 & lower      F


Each assignment that is submitted on Blackboard has an accompanying statement of outcomes, such that you can see before and after you write the terms by which your papers and other assignments are awarded points and a grade. I track the amount you write as well as the quality of the arguments you make, regardless of the grade you earn.



Get the Date       2PM to 4PM–Final exam is an oral presentation of your written findings.

A. Submit a rewritten essay based on previous two papers and all the authors (20%)

B. You present a rehearsed and engaging verbal summary of your paper and focusing on what you learned specifically from the authors lasting from 4 -5 minutes in length of presentation. Music may accompany your talk but not video clips. You stay for the entire 2 hours. (10% of grade is oral present).

All work that you submit, including blogs, e-mails, and texts, must be your own words, or have an acknowledgment as to whose words, ideas, or beliefs are being used and from where.

ENV 206.1: Caribbean Environmental history, is a course that carries 4 hours of credit and counts as an Environmental Studies elective or as a Latin American and Caribbean Studies elective course.

A statement about accommodating students with significant concerns.

Rollins College is committed to equal access and does not discriminate unlawfully against persons with disabilities in its policies, procedures, programs or employment processes. The College recognizes its obligations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide an environment that does not discriminate against persons with disabilities.

If you are a person with a disability on this campus and anticipate needing any type of academic/medical accommodations in order to participate in your classes, please make timely arrangements by disclosing this disability in writing to the Disability Services Office at (Box 2772) – Mills Building, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park, FL, 32789. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 407-646-2354 or by emailing:

My policies:

I am here to excite and encourage you to excel in learning new concepts and practicing your writing and speaking abilities in an effort to create meaningful discourse. My purpose is to feed your inquiring intellect with significant ideas in a coherent and challenging manner. I anticipate you will ask questions and actively work together to overcome the challenges the course material may pose for you in achieving an excellent level of performance based on an improved, articulated understanding of the readings. I recommend you to discuss perplexing ideas, passages, and assignments with me–at length–during my office hours.

Active learning

Keep in mind that participation in this course involves not only alertness and verbally contributing your ideas, but also listening respectfully without interrupting other speakers who are presenting their views on the assigned readings. Paying attention to others and to me is a sign of respect that I will reward. The use of electronic media, texting, or web browsing for other than class purposes is treated as an absence since texting, internet surfing, e-mailing, or being digitally inattentive to our discussion during class meetings robs us of your intellect’s contributions to our discourse. Students on unauthorized Internet site will be asked to leave the class for that day and lose participation points for the week.

Late papers

Submit all assigned work on or before the start of the class on the day the assigned work is due. Late papers cannot earn the same credit as those received on time in fairness to the punctual students. This is really because we discuss in the class the day the essays are due some of what you had written. Always back-up your work as you write, start at least a week before, and keep a printed copy of the essay you give me.

Paper format

The look of any college paper is always a professional document with an accurate date and page numbers indicating when the work was completely written. I ask you to place a cover page with your name, phone number, essay title, and an abstract of two to four sentences covering the substance of your essay for purposes of privacy because I make extensive comments on your work, that you must read in order to revise the essays. Spelling and grammar errors are unacceptable. All papers are to be typed, double spaced, in Arial or times new roman font, have one inch margins with 23 lines to the page as a minimum.

Academic honesty and writing with integrity

Cheating, borrowing ideas, or copying without proper citation diminishes the integrity of any writing. The habitual resort to these less than responsible practices amounts to plagiarism–a most serious academic offense of novices and experts alike. By the use of words or ideas that are not your own and are either insufficiently accredited or not acknowledged at all you undermine the essay’s reliability. The consequences are that you can fail the assignment, or even fail the class, since these offenses are a violation of the College’s honor code. As such, I am obligated to report such violations to the Dean.


Some linked text t understand

A biological, geographical & cultural history of the Caribbean and northern Latin American regions with an emphasis on native American, African, and European cultural contact, diffusion, and survivals. Among the oldest civilizations of the region the Toltec and Mayan peoples persist along the western fringes of this tropical archipelago and volcanic mountain shores long after the European landings in 1492 and subsequent colonization of the West Indies. The course retraces the steps of Alexander Von Humboldt’s 1799 trip to the Americas so that we focus on how conquest, enslavement, colonization, climate, migration and an impoverishment of nature reshaped the many peoples of these extensive islands and coastal expanses. This course is an inquiry into past changes in ecological conditions as they influenced the origins of contemporary agriculture, economy, and social realities of this place where numerous European peoples mingled intimately with native and African descendants to create a new world of fusion.






Alfred W. Crosby, Germs, Seeds and Animals.W. E. B. Dubois

Alfred W. Crosby, The Columbian Exchange.

Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude.

Sydney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power.

W. E. Burghardt DuBois, The Negro.


On line

Derek Walcott's, The  Antilles.

Study Guide: Nature, History & Place in the Caribbean by J. Siry.



V. S. Naipaul, The Middle Passage. (a novel).

Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place.           

Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, (a novel).

Graham Greene, The Comedians (a novel).

Edward W. Said, Culture & Imperialism.

Keen & Haynes, A History of Latin America, recent edition.


bookEach of the above books should be read by focusing on a key paragraph or page that embodies most or all of what that chapter or essay means. Discussions center on these key paragraphs or pages; frequently read aloud and examined in class. Books must be used in all your assignments.

What must you do?

You are evaluated by what you write, to do that well, you must read, and you are asked to revise and rewrite yourformal essays in order to do exceptionally well in this course.


Effective College education consists, in part, of a discourse among the writers of the past, the class and me with you. Without sharing all of these ideas, we cannot ably confront the exigencies of the present. The current problems include poverty, racism, gender inequality and exploitive tourism and manufacturing with respect to our southern neighbors in Middle America and the Caribbean basin.


For that reason all writing in my classes requires a statement as to the explicit sources from which you took your inspiration, ideas, or quotations. Note the sources for your writing even if a slight influence by others helped you to visualize a problem better, understand an incident, or conceptualize your thoughts about the assignment. If you write a page per class you will have a good source of material to use in our conversations and in your papers.


Formal essays must always have a list of all the authors and titles of the books and periodicals you have read, notes, and all sources listed with explicit page numbers.


You are to print all written work, with numbered pages, and turned in on the date the assignment is due. So, please plan ahead and start writing one to two weeks before the assignment is due. Since all writing is redrafting, I encourage you to write drafts and discuss them with me well before the due date. All collaborative work must be proposed in writing and pre-approved by me.


Take notes on your readings and refer to those in class. Discussions of material during class time should draw from the examples in the assigned readings for that day. Vocabulary is a significant key to your success in the class. Consult my web page, as there are several vocabulary entries—from basic terms to obscure words—on that site.


Failure to do the above, suggested activities could lead to your failing the course.




My Intentions in this course are for you to:


To practice a writing component of this course, my intent is for you to critically think and reflect on all of the texts' contents. Write down our discussion’s focus during class and integrate concepts by informal writing. In addition, writing formally requires you to rewrite your papers.


Read all the books carefully, take notes and think critically so you may synthesize several authors around themes in order to express your ideas more clearly in a variety of writing formats.


Write frequently in a variety of forms such as notes, e-mail, free writing, letters or essays to convey complex ideas in a simple, clear and direct fashion. Use the Internet to communicate with others to exchange electronic writing on the documentary evidence for change in the Caribbean.


Rewrite formal papers for class, by using the writing center at different stages in the composition process from invention and development to early draft and final production of essays, papers, speeches, or summaries.

Verbally present aloud to the class your questions drawn from notes on the texts, at least, every two weeks and to practice informal writing every week from the perspective of oral interpretation of crucial sections of the texts discovering the significance of spoken words in cultural advances.


Compare and contrast concepts demonstrating a chronological understanding in your writing; drawn from books by our varied authors, whose experiences in describing the diversity and unity of the Caribbean experience allows you to convey different information in an historical context.


Select a theme and examine its interpretive power with respect to informing the public about traditions, facts and social problems of wide community concern, thus reflecting your readings tying historical to contemporary matters in the Antilles, Mexico and Central America.



Central Themes are:


An ecological vision ties organic and inorganic facets of existence together to explain human social developments based on three principles:

Von HumboldtScientific reality as Von Humboldt insisted is a set of interdependent geological and biological relations in which humans act, are influenced by, and affect other life.

The Earth, then, is a partner in our endeavors and not some inanimate stage upon which we act out our desires.


Cyclical systems of feedback and response are a means by which physical (El Nino events) and biological changes (introduced species) occur in ecosystems over time that influence the course of human events (Crosby, Mintz, Dubois, Kincaid, & Diamond).

    Humans are ecological actors (Crosby) and moral agents (Paz) who nonetheless     use machinery with far reaching regional & unpredictable planetary influences     (Kincaid).

Education requires a community commitment to honestly convey information to allow for an adaptive response. Knowledge, reason and morality always inform effective action to allow people to improve their conditions.

Alexander Von Humboldt, explorer, diplomat, scientist author of Ksomos.






What must you do to do well in this course? You are judged every week by your comments in class based on the books; your grades (see below for details): rest on reading texts, working in a community of learning (TJs, library, groups), & completing all the assignments on time.


                 %; value                What to do;                                             When to do it                                        

 15           attendance or compensation field work.

 10           interview & class presentations.

 20           1st essay on ecological invasion and oral presentation from Crosby.

 20           2nd  essay on Mintz and Keene with oral presentation on texts.

 30           final essay and oral presentation contrasting authors from Crosby & Paz to Mintz & Dubois.

  5            Black board  






                 What is due?                                                                             When due?                             Grade value              


Participation -- speaking in class, e-mail, & attending             2 pt./week                                                 15 %;

Asking and answering questions based on the text, reading aloud and presenting verbal reports, demonstrate alertness in class and is rewarded as are the outcomes of group work.


1st Essay -- understanding an ecological invasion, written draft & corrections                                   20 %;

This is an (6 pp.) essay developed from the Crosby, Mintz and Haynes texts, primarily but including class        discussions, my web site and reserve readings.


Oral --   (Class presentations) interview and office preparation meeting for 4 talks to class             05 %;

Each month you put together selected readings around the monthly themes of slavery, revolution, Latino identity and cultural syncretism (the blending of African and Ibero, with Euro-American traditions into an Afro-Caribbean heritage). From Crosby, Paz, Mintz and Dubois readings.


2nd  ESSAY --  “synthesizing ideas”  from Mintz, Dubois, Paz & Keene draft & rewritten paper          20 %;

This is a process you must participate in fully to pass a credit/no credit pretest, short answer responses to questions on the above texts and a corrected short (3 to 5 pp.) essay.


Final  --  “The Caribbean,” written essay: & verbally* present a summary                                            20 %;

This is a comprehensive written draft and final essay (7 pp.), & 250-word abstract, a summary of which is verbally presented at the final exam. Essay must include all the authors on defining and preserving Caribbean cultural & natural resources with specific references to all readings, specific places. Discuss and analyze a reasonable means for us to understand how the region’s societies, or Mexico is best seen as a fusion of resilient cultural traditions that must be protected & preserved.


All work must be your own, other's ideas or words must be attributed by a specific reference, or else you have committed a fraud, and you are guilty of plagiarism, for which you can fail this class.





Keen & Haynes, A History of Latin America & the Caribbean: should be read throughout the first three months for geographical and historical details, especially Chapters 1-8, 11-12, 17-18, 20-21.


The other books form the focus of discussions, as follows each month so keep notes on these authors:


My desire is to make you at least as smart as the U. S. State Department concerning the history of our associated nations: Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.



Compare this map to a map of the Caribbean and Mexico, or New Spain and New Granada in 1570.


 All written work is formal, in that references with page numbers and citations based on a bibliography must be clear and consistent. You must attribute ideas and not just quotations to their respective authors. Few of us are original thinkers, so cite your influences in all written work as a matter of scholarly habit.  By formal, I mean minimally, a six page, typed (12 point double spaced), paper with either footnotes or endnotes, a list of at least ten sources, a timeline, and 200-word abstract. Brevity is the soul of wit.” A total of 15 pages of writing is a minimum for the entire course. More is not better, but I keep track of how much you write and the sources you consulted in addition to your grade and the important concepts you define. The essay's abstract or summary is presented (not read) in a rehearsed five minute verbal presentation at the final exam period, including every author's opinions on preserving Caribbean cultural & natural traditions with specific references to all assigned readings, specific places from the texts and a clearly explained, reasonable means of employing existing mixed populations, and indigenous people’s in the future. 

Note on continuity.
Before every essay is due, you are asked to select a chapter, or sections from the readings to interpret orally to the class. The purpose of this sequence is not arbitrary, so select passages, you will use in your forthcoming essays and raise questions for the class to consider or ask questions you feel you want answered before placing these passages into your essays. Each author builds upon the previous one, so as you read keep a running journal of your notes, but summarize those notes weekly to begin to pick out themes that you can use in your final essay in explaining the Caribbean and Mexican cultural legacies. Bring those notes to meeting with me in April.



It is my desire for you to excel in this class. To improve your verbal presentations I am asking you to tape an interview in the career services office, so schedule an appointment there in January.  You excel in that interview and the class by reading carefully and asking serious questions about the texts, the evidence they present and the conclusions drawn about how social systems persist despite imperial conquest and cultural domination. I am here to assist your intellectual and emotional development with respect to understanding ourselves as public members of a society, ethnic heritage, and cultural tradition we inherit. I reward you for working hard and developing your own answers to the rather deep and challenging questions posed weekly in the class. For every hour of class, three hours of study is expected.  

A significant product of my wanting you to perform at an excellent level is that you may discover the value of persistence: personally and culturally. There are peoples in the America’s today; such as Tarahumara, Hopi, or Arawak societies, whose resilience in the face of five centuries of European colonization is a testimony to human endurance, creativity and genius.  


Life a bit like a play, into which we—as walk-on actors—enter in the midst of the action, without being aware of what came before we entered the script. This class tries to reveal to each of you a bit of the ongoing plot with respect to our neighboring actors in the Antilles.

Books | Grades | My Intentions | Central Themes | Assignments | Readings | Calendar | Final | Continuity

Paz |Conclusion | Statement on Excellence | Survival tips | What you have to do | Study Guide | Honor Code

Cornell Fine Arts Museum


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