Carolyn Cooper is a recently retired professor of literary and cultural studies who taught at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica for thirty-six years. In 1968, she was awarded the Jamaica Scholarship (Girls) to do her B.A. in English at Mona. On completion of the degree in 1971, she won a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) fellowship to do her MA at the University of Toronto. She received fellowships from the University of the West Indies and the University of Toronto to do her PhD, which she completed in 1977.
After teaching for five years at Atlantic Union College, a small private college in New England, Dr. Cooper returned to UWI in 1980. There she taught courses on Caribbean, African-American and African literature as well as popular culture. Her innovative course, “Reggae Poetry,” which is offered by the Department of Literatures in English, continues to attract students from across the faculties as well as international students.
In 1992, Professor Cooper conceived the International Reggae Studies Centre and provided intellectual leadership for this far-reaching enterprise for more than a decade since its institutionalisation at Mona in 1994 as the somewhat diminished Reggae Studies Unit. She initiated the annual Bob Marley Lecture in 1997 as well as a hugely popular series of talks by an array of reggae/dancehall artists, other industry experts and academics including Lady Saw, Buju Banton, Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica, Luciano, Capleton, Ninjaman, Gentleman, Louise Frazer-Bennett, Jeremy Harding, Mikey Bennett, Brent Clough and Lez Henry.
The premier academic accomplishment of the Reggae Studies Unit is the establishment of an innovative, inter-disciplinary undergraduate degree programme in Entertainment and Cultural Enterprise Management. The brainchild of Kam-Au Amen, the first MA graduate in Cultural Studies at UWI, Mona, the degree remains one of the most popular in the Faculty of Humanities and Education.