New Special Topics Class: Haiti in the Americas

This year, Bosque School launched a new humanities special topics course for upper school students: Haiti in the Americas.

Taught by Dr. Zavitz, the class is diving into the history of the Haitian Revolution. To help provide meaningful context and expand on what they’re learning, Dr. Zavitz is bringing in guest speakers throughout the year, both live and over Zoom. Adding this element to the class is important to Dr. Zavitz, who says that it’s, “a chance to be part of a larger community that’s working on Haiti.” She explained that this learning opportunity is not something that many high school students get to take part in—and not something that even many college students get to do. 

The first guest speaker to join the class this year was Matthew J. Smith, a professor of history and director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership at University College London. He presented to the class virtually from London on the topic of “Historical Time: Haiti and the 19th Century World.” Dr. Zavitz shared, “Having Dr. Smith was a good way to see how people are currently working on Haiti and the Haitian Revolution, and to bring faces to the work that we’re doing.”

Her students agreed.

“I think it was super interesting to get the perspective of a different speaker, especially someone who has had a lot of experience,” said Hazel ‘25. “It was cool to have a discussion with someone very knowledgeable of the topic.” 

Wes ‘25 added, “He offered a very nuanced view of what happened during the Revolution, and afterward…He gave us a few really important new perspectives of how the Haitian Revolution influenced the surrounding area.” 

The class will be reading more of Dr. Smith’s work later in the year and will now be able to put a face behind what they’re reading. Throughout the year, they will be exploring how the histories of the modern-day countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic are formative to our understanding of colonialism, anti-slavery, emancipation, citizenship, and freedom.