As part of the so-called “developing world,” the countries of Latin America have focused principally on achieving national development since the time of their political independence in the 1800s. For almost two centuries, the countries of the region have attempted to establish responsive political systems, diversified, vibrant economies, and a higher quality of life for their citizens. These efforts have not always worked and at times authoritarian regimes have emerged, economies have become stagnant, and the lives of citizens have not improved. In this course, we will focus on three things. First, we will explore some of the key events and processes in the history of Latin America so we can better understand the region, and its current problems and successes with development. Second, we will consider the meaning of the term “development,” and assess Latin America’s current state of development, using the United Nation’s Millennium Development goals as a benchmark. Third, we will survey the history, economics, culture, politics and foreign relations of the six fascinating countries that we will visit on our voyage. As we learn about and visit these six countries – Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Belize and Cuba – we will not only get to know these countries but also understand better the concepts of national, and human, development. As we travel from port to port, our key goals will be to better understand these countries and see how well each has come to achieving the millennium development goals.
Required for all students.