News Releases

The UWI and University of Glasgow develop free online course on history of British slavery

For Release Upon Receipt - October 6, 2020


The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Tuesday, October 06, 2020—A new free online course is being launched to investigate the history of British colonial slavery in the Caribbean, reflecting its links to racial inequalities and present-day global protests. The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and the University of Glasgow (UoG) are partnering to deliver this online course that will take participants on a 350-year journey from West Africa and the Caribbean through to the UK’s Windrush Generation and the present day.

The four-week free online course, called History of Slavery in the British Caribbean on the leading social learning platform,, is now open for registration and will go live on Monday, October 12, during Black History Month in the UK. Its content will explore the renewed debate in the UK about the treatment of symbols of Britain’s colonial past and how the global Black Lives Matter protests have caused many to reflect on the country’s history of racism and its roots in slavery.

The new course continues the partnership formalised last year when The UWI and UoG signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and which led to the two universities co-establishing a Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research (GCCDR).

Commenting on the collaboration, Co-Director of the joint UWI-Glasgow Centre, Professor Simon Anderson noted how pleased The UWI is that “the landmark MoU offers a significant foundation for institutional partnership and collaboration to build teaching, research and public education programmes, such as this one, that address the legacies of slavery.”

Drawing on the expertise of academics in the Caribbean, The History of Slavery in the British Caribbean includes UWI contributors, Dr Zachary Beier, Lecturer at the Mona Campus’ Department of History and Archaeology, Dr Tara Inniss from the Department of History and Philosophy at the Cave Hill Campus, and Dr Shani Roper, UWI Museum Curator at The UWI Regional Headquarters.

Dr Beier said: “I thought this was a great opportunity to demonstrate how academic collaboration between the United Kingdom and the Caribbean is an important step in rectifying the history of exploitative and unbalanced relationships between these regions. Additionally, this course provided an opportunity to share information about significant historical archaeological research in the Caribbean islands and material culture collections stored at The UWI. The UWI plays an important role in ensuring the significant history and cultural resources of the Caribbean are properly considered and accessible to an increasingly interested global community.”

From the University of Glasgow, Dr Peggy Brunache, lecturer in the history of Atlantic Slavery and Director of the Beniba Centre for Slavery Studies along with Dr Christine Whyte, historian of West Africa and lecturer in Global History are the lead contributors on the course.

Dr Brunache said: “The past is not over. The past is still the present. While the abolition of the slave trade and racial slavery occurred in the early 19th century, the structures of racial inequality and anti-black racism have never dissipated. Does that mean that every white British citizen is racist? Of course not. However, these structures of power remain infused into the very fabric of contemporary society, privileging those who identify as white and especially those with generational wealth. It’s as insidiously active in the Commonwealth Caribbean as much as it is in the British metropole.” 

Dr Whyte said: “The important thing about this course is its emphasis on British involvement in slavery, which was both long-lasting and significant to many aspects of British society and economy, and its focus on the words of the enslaved to describe their own experiences.”

Looking beyond this free course, as part of the work of the GCCDR both universities are also preparing to jointly offer a Master of Arts Programme in Reparatory Justice.



Notes to Editors

More about The History of Slavery in the British Caribbean course

The History of Slavery in the British Caribbean course is now available on the FutureLearn platform. The four-week course will start with the context of life, culture, and economy of West Africa and then follow enslaved people through their forced migration to the islands of the Caribbean and the lives they found there. Through the course, people will discover more about the lives of enslaved people in British colonies in the Caribbean and examine the context and events that led to the end of slavery, as well as the labour systems devised to replace it. People will also discover more about the Windrush Generation and immigration, the movement for independence for countries in the Caribbean and reflect on contemporary ideas of identity and how the global Black Lives Matter campaign has impacted on Britain.


About the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research (GCCDR)

The Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research (GCCDR) is a joint initiative between The University of the West Indies and the University of Glasgow. It was established in 2019 when an historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing the two universities to work together was signed in Kingston, Jamaica on July 31, and in Glasgow on August 23, 2019. The MoU was one of a series of recommendations that emerged from a report, 'Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow', conducted by the University of Glasgow in 2018 examining its links with historical slavery. As part of the work of GCCDR both universities will be jointly offering a Master of Arts Programme in Reparatory Justice.


About FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform founded in December 2012 by The Open University and now jointly owned by The Open University in the UK and The SEEK Group. It uses design, technology and partnerships to create enjoyable, credible and flexible short online courses and micro-credentials, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. In addition to top universities, it partners with leading organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, Raspberry Pi and Health Education England (HEE), as is also involved in government-backed initiatives to address skills gaps such as The Institute of Coding and the National Centre for Computing Education.


About the University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world, delivering world-class, world-changing research and education with impact. A member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK Universities, Glasgow is ranked 67th in the world (QS World University Rankings 2020) and joint 93rd in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019. It welcomes students from more than 140 countries worldwide and has around 28,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. For more, visit


About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies; the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ); The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development; The UWI-Coventry Institute for Industry-Academic Partnership with the University of Coventry and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of Glasgow.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018 and 2019, then top 20 in 2020. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit

 (Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)