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Curriculum: History and Social Science

World Religions

Upper School

Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 10-12

Credits: 0.5

In order to be a culturally competent global citizen, one must understand the motivations, traditions, and cultural forces that influence the globe, including religion. Though the United States is an increasingly secular state, other parts of the world are strongly influenced by their religious traditions, informing international relations, social values, and the global marketplace. This class will address the religious practices of the major world religions and the vast spectrum of beliefs within each that makes it difficult to generalize about them. To honor the living traditions that we are studying, we will not only examine but will also find ways to experience the Hindu Traditions and various Yogas, Buddhism and Meditation (or the interpretation of a Koan), Taoism and Tai Chi, Islam and Prayer, Christianity and Worship, Judaism and the study of the Torah, and native Aboriginal and American relationships to the Earth. In the midst of this quest, we will consider the way astrology, cults, New Age practices, and mindfulness function as derivatives of religious intent.

Modern Migrations

Upper School

Grade 10, Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 10-12

Credits: 0.5

The movement of people has been the stimulus for the spreading of innovation and culture since the rise of agriculture. The earliest patterns of migration are heavily responsible for the ways in which our countries look and operate today. People haven’t stopped moving, though. In fact, the rise of technology has made it even easier for individuals and families to move from one place to another in our world today. One could argue that the movement of people and the culture systems they bring with them will fundamentally alter our world’s future.

This course will rely heavily on current events to help students understand modern day migration patterns, the reasons for movement, and the challenges that arise when people move from one place to another. Students will use case studies to investigate the ways in which migration has political, economic and social effects on countries, and will learn both the positives and negatives associated with international migration.

Race Against the Machine: The Protests of 1968

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 0.5

1968 was a watershed moment not just in the United States, but around the globe. As the world experiences another moment of unprecedented social shift, this course will dive into the not- so-distant past to examine the role that students played in protests in North America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. In examining the events, social movements, and lasting legacy of 1968, we will seek not only to understand the individual movements but to uncover some of the central themes that underpinned all of them.

Moral Courage

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 0.5

What do Greta Thunburg, Malala, Colin Kaepernick, Rosa Parks, Alexei Navalny, Aung San Suu Kyi, Socrates, and Harry Potter all have in common? What allows some people to take and hold a moral or political stand even when it threatens their life and safety? What choices do we have in the face of opposition and pressure to sit down and conform? And what can we do to strengthen our own moral compass enough to be able to change the world? These are the questions we will consider as we look at some of our heroes and role models from a wide range of disciplines and time frames. This interdisciplinary class will be different in that you, the students, will choose the role models we study and where and how they, and you, have found moral courage. Our goal is for us to develop a plan that will bolster our moral compass, our courage, and our ability to do the right thing, no matter the consequences.

Not offered 2022-23

Colonialism and the Caribbean

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 0.5

This course will explore the legacies of colonialism using Albert Memmi’s framework from the book The Colonizer and the Colonized. Students will investigate the social, cultural and economic impact of Colonialism on the present day with a specific focus on Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Students will develop an understanding of colonialism and its lasting impact on a nation politically and economically.

The Good Life

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 0.5

Aristotle called it eudaimonia, which is usually translated as well-being, flourishing, happiness, or fulfillment. What does it mean to live a good life? Do we all agree on what the good life is or should be? Do we need to? Philosophers, priests, economists, and sages in every generation have tried to answer the question, but overwhelmingly it has been answered by men. Do women have a different answer? We will draw upon several religious, philosophical, and folk traditions as we ask the question: what is a life worth living – today – for you? We will examine different models of the good life as we practice habits of reflection and action. We will combine personal reflection with group conversation as we will grapple with consequential thinkers and engage in a deep learning experience that prepares you for a concluding exercise in articulating your own vision of the good life.

Not offered 2022-23

Introduction to Ethical Reasoning

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 0.5

Human society has always looked for answers to big questions: Why am I here? What is my place in society? How should I behave toward others? What is the nature of good and evil? This course introduces students to tracts of moral and political philosophy from Aristotle to Nussbaum. Ethical reasoning is applied to an examination of contemporary issues such as bioengineering, human rights, social justice, our relationship to the natural world, and the obligations of citizenship. Students will be encouraged to use what they are learning as a framework to develop and support their own opinions on these topics.

Inequality in the United States

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 0.5

This course will introduce students to systems of social inequality in the United States. We will investigate the structural, interpersonal and social dimensions of oppression. Course materials will explore the ways that sexism, heterosexism and racism have developed over time as well as the ways they impact each of us everyday. Students will develop language, tools and skills to create positive social change.

Art History: Movements in Art History

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 0.5

This course is cross-listed with both the Visual Arts and History Departments.

This course will provide a multidisciplinary approach to the study of art and architectural history. In this class, students view art through the lens of historical events, literature, music and social context of the time periods covered in the course. Students tackle issues such as who decides what is considered art and the ethics around restoration vs. preservation. Students begin this course by looking at the art and architecture of the Medieval world, and work their way through Post Impressionism and the Modern world. By studying great works from within these artistic periods, students gain a better understanding of the visual art of each era and how it can help us to better understand the greater context of the time.

Not offered 2022-23

Art History: Art of Ancient Civilizations

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 0.5

This course is cross-listed with both the Visual Arts and History Departments.

In this class, students gain an understanding of the cultures of ancient civilizations through the study of the objects they produced. Students grapple extensively with issues such as who decides what is art, the ethics surrounding display and repatriation, and the difference between art, artifact and cultural object. By studying the objects produced by these great civilizations, students gain a better understanding of the objects themselves and how they fit within the context of their time and place.

Not offered 2022-23

Advanced Human Geography

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Departmental Approval

This course is an upper-level social studies course that introduces students to the patterns and processes that have shaped our understanding and use of Earth. Through studies of population, cultural patterns, cities and urban land use, and economic development, students will gain an understanding of what happens when cultures and people interact with one another and how people adjust to the land around them. The class will investigate how geopolitical policies are formed and how they affect our world today. Students will be expected to understand and analyze maps and spatial data, recognize the different regions of the world, and understand how events and processes influence one another. Prerequisite: departmental approval.

Advanced Economics

Upper School

Grade 11, Grade 12

History and Social Science

Open to Grades 11-12

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Departmental approval

This course will cover an introduction to basic economic principles including, but not limited to, scarcity and choice, supply and demand, competition, incentives, markets, and price. The course will also explore macroeconomic principles such as national debt, unemployment, inflation, and money through different schools of thought. Microeconomic principles such as consumers, firms, and income distribution will also be addressed. Students will read and engage with the history of economic thought through books and journal articles. Finally, the course will relate the above concepts to current world and national economic news events. Prerequisite: departmental approval.

Advanced Topics in U.S. History

Upper School

Grade 11

History and Social Science

Grade 11

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Departmental Approval

Advanced Topics in U.S. History requires the ability to read a wide variety of texts closely, write incisively, and argue persuasively. Political and economic forces are viewed through the lens of social movements. Students explore extensive primary and secondary sources, consider the conflict and unity underlying these movements, and draw conclusions. Instead of interpreting issues and evaluating people solely through their 21st-century lens, students are encouraged to consider two questions: what did the people they are studying know and what could they have known? Students compare themes across time, identifying forces of change and of continuity at work. A close examination of the changing ways historians interpret the past illuminates how philosophical leanings affect historiography. Students write four research papers during the year on topics of their choosing. The final paper is presented to an external audience and submitted for publication. Prerequisite: departmental approval.

U.S. History

Upper School

Grade 11

History and Social Science

Grade 11

Credits: 1

This course takes a thematic approach to the study of the history of the United States from early European/Native American encounters up through the 20th century. Extensive use of primary documents familiarizes students with voices of the past, while secondary readings offer students varying interpretations. Students study the influence of geographic features on agricultural and industrial development, foreign policy, and the character of American people. The interaction between the private life of citizens and the public world of government is examined in each unit as students consider how people seek to safeguard their way of life or to press for change and, in doing so, alter the role of government.

Honors Foundations of the Modern World

Upper School

Grade 10

History and Social Science

Grade 10

Credits: 1

Prerequisite: Departmental approval

This course will cover the same content and themes as Foundations of the Modern World, incorporating more challenging readings and aiming for highly developed and nuanced writing. Assessments will largely center around document-based writing, and students will use scholarly sources to complete a final research paper. Prerequisite: departmental approval.

Foundations of the Modern World

Upper School

Grade 10

History and Social Science

Grade 10

Credits: 1

Foundations of the Modern World is an inquiry-based course that investigates how ideas, individuals, and social, political, and economic forces can serve to both integrate people and proliferate differences. Building on students’ understanding of worldwide patterns of interaction from Global Connections, Foundations of the Modern World will zoom in on the world since 1500, beginning with the birth of the modern nation-state. Students will first explore how historians interpret and reinterpret the past, then move into 18th century ideas and revolutions, the causes and effects of global industrialization and imperialism, and global war and peace. The course will culminate with a research project assessing how an individual can impact the world. Within each unit, students will examine how historical themes connect to, and help explain, modern world events as they unfold. Rich content and intentional skill instruction work simultaneously throughout the year, as students engage with a variety of written, visual, and primary and secondary sources, hone their historical thinking skills through developing evidence-based arguments, and communicate their ideas through clear and compelling speaking and writing.

Global Connections

Upper School

Grade 9

History and Social Science

Grade 9

Credits: 1

This course is designed to challenge students to assess the modern globalized world through the study of systems and processes that have shaped the countries and cultures that exist within it. Students will learn to work collaboratively in researching exploration, colonization, population growth and globalization. Global Connections provides students with an intensive introduction to, and ongoing instruction in, the research and writing process. Students will also develop historical thinking skills such as evidence evaluation, corroboration, and interpretation, deploying these skills not only to study the past, but to grow as critical consumers of information in the digital world.

History 8: American Identity

Middle School

Grade 8

History and Social Science

Grade 8

This course takes as its basic question, “What does it mean to be American?” Students spend the fall learning about the foundation of American democracy, examining the ways in which the American government functions and how citizens engage in that process. In the spring, students dig deeper into the experiences of three groups who have been influential in the development of this country: Indigenous Peoples, Black Americans, and the Latinx community. Students also have the opportunity to explore groups that resonate with their own American experience. Students use a variety of sources ranging from primary documents to academic monographs to help them improve their ability to think like historians.

History 7: World Geography

Middle School

Grade 7

History and Social Science

Grade 7

This course focuses on allowing our students to see how our world looks today. With the purpose of allowing our students to understand the way that geography impacts our lives, students will undertake a unit on reading and understanding maps as well as a unit on important geography terms, including the study of geography itself, climate, and vegetation. They will then study various regions, focusing on themes of geography, including themes of place, location and the movement of people and ideas.

History 6: Ancient Cultures

Middle School

Grade 6

History and Social Science

Grade 6

Where do we begin? How did things start? Ancient Cultures emphasizes the beginning of early civilizations and how they relate to the foundations of society today. Through discussions about prehistory, written documents, and material remains, students identify the sources that inform the study of history. This yearlong course focuses on the study of ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and China. In each unit, students gain an appreciation for the geography, government, art and architecture, religion, daily life, and major achievements of each civilization. With a combination of individual and group work, students learn analytical and critical thinking skills while also developing collaborative skills.