Social Studies Courses
Social Studies Department Chair
Richard Gowers :: email@example.com
Social Studies Teachers
- Michael Kahn :: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nathan Readey :: email@example.com
- William Juola :: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courses marked with an asterix are pending UC approval.
'a' Category College Prep Courses
This college-prep course, intended for students of any grade, traces the evolution of the world from ancient times to the global interdependence of present-day. World History emphasizes the emergence of interdependence among regions - an interaction that was stimulated by the European invasions and colonizations, and sustained by the contributions of the non-Western regions. Collectively, these forces shaped the modern world. To understand global histories as being interconnected, students will analyze the political, economic, social, cultural, demographic, and ecological implications of history, and will draw upon materials and pedagogical approaches from other disciplines, such as political science, anthropology, literature, feminist studies, and art.
This college-prep course, intended for students of any grade, offers an overview of U.S. History, from pre-colonial times to the present day. In U.S. History, students study the core events and ideologies that have fundamentally shaped not only the American continents, but the world at large. Noted subjects are the foundations of the American Republic, the causes and consequences of the Civil War, the rise of Industrial America, the Progressive Era, American Foreign Policy, The Great Depression, World War Two, the Civil Rights Movement, and the social change wrought by the Sixties generation. As this course prepares students for the rigors of college history curriculum, students hone their ability to assimilate information to form a 'big picture' view of history. Students use this assimilated viewpoint to arrive at conclusions about historical events, and present these conclusions persuasively in essay format.
Prerequisites: World History.
This course is designed as a combination of the English course, American Literature, and the History course, U.S. History. The course begins with the premise that the emergence of the United States of America, can be understood, historically, as the actualization and authorization of modernity, a new world view in the west. This new paradigm was essentially forward looking. It also led to a differentiation of kinds of knowledge; no longer could unified cosmological (religious) explanations of the cosmos satisfy the modern western mind; scientific explanations became separate from historical ones which were distinct from religious ones, etc. The course, therefore, can be considered as an inquiry into the nature of modernity in the west through a careful study of the history and literature of the United States of America. The study of the History of American society and its literature, from this new beginning through the 20th century, prompts students to continually redefine the words that constitute the topic of study: America, Literature and History. As a result, the course also prompts students to gain new insights into their roles as citizens, as intellectual and artistic thinkers, and as moral thinkers. Students are asked to immerse themselves into the dynamic interplay between ideas, historical events, and their own lives. Ultimately, the course is designed to induce students to ask the most basic philosophical questions: Who am I? and where am I going?
Prerequisites: World History, 9th and 10th grade English
The study of European history since 1450 introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which they live. It will provide students with an understanding of some of the principal themes in modern European history, an ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and an ability to express historical understanding in writing. European History is divided into two semesters: the first covers the period from 1450 to rise of Napoleon at the turn of the 19th century; the second begins with 19th century industrialization and concludes with a study of post-Cold War Europe.
Students studying Government develop a broad understanding of the American Constitutional system. Throughout this college-prep semester, students develop an appreciation of the ideals of American democracy and how they have been incorporated into the American system of government. Students acquire a working knowledge of the Constitution, how it has been interpreted, and how it applies to the modern world. The roles and functions of parties, campaigns, and elections are key to the class focus as well as the role of media and popular opinion on influencing the political process. During in-class discussions and in essay responses, students apply these concepts to current political issues and events.
Prerequisites: U.S. History.
Contemporary World Studies
How can we understand the world around us and the evolving threads of politics, culture, and economies that tie us together? This course is a year-long introduction to globalization and its impact on the world: Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, and Asia. It orients students to the ties between nation-states in each region; historical, geographical and economic factors that encompass each place; and the intersection of ethnic, cultural, and religious populations. At the conclusion of this course, students are well-placed to understand the currents of world politics and the relationship between America and the world around her. Its focus is on the 20th and 21st centuries, yet instructors delve further into the past to provide important contextual narratives.
Prerequisites: US Government (recommended).
'a' Category Honors & AP Courses
AP Comparative Government & Politics
This course covers the basic concepts and theories of comparative politics through an analysis of selected political systems and governments in Western and non-Western societies. Topics will include ideology, political culture, institutional development, interest group politics, political participation, decision-making, economic development and underdevelopment, collective violence and stability, and political, economic, and bureaucratic elites. The countries under review are Great Britain, Russia, Mexico, Iran, China, and Nigeria.
Prerequisites: World History and/or US History
AP European History
History is the study of trends, populations, economies, societies, identities and most importantly, people. It is, at its heart, the study of people living in the world, separated only by distance and time. The course will not only introduce students to a further in-depth study of history but also to the methodology and contextualization of history. Special emphasis will be placed on understanding the context of time and place but also on bias, point of view, interpretation, and motivation. Since there are no "Right Answers" in history, we can only study different interpretations from different sources and how they interrelate. AP European History will focus on this professional style of interpretation of the history of Europe since 1450 and how it has led to the modern geo-political and socio-economic world we find ourselves in currently. Primary documents will be given equal priority to the textbook and other tradition secondary documents.
AP United States Government & Politics
Abraham Lincoln famously spoke of the 'mystic chords of memory' stretching from 'every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land.' But what are the institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute the American nation? How have they been shaped and re-shaped over the course of US History? This course is intended to ground students in an understanding of the U.S. government and orient them to the intellectual and political chords of memory that have shaped and been shaped by its citizenry. Students will leave this class with a clear understanding of the role of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches; the ideologies of political parties; the evolution of public policy in the United States; and the constitutional underpinnings of the United States.
Prerequisites: US History.
AP U.S. History
This course is an accelerated version of US History, and is designed to help students to develop a critical appraisal of US History. Topics of note are: the American Revolution, the political framework of the American Republic, western expansion, indigenous displacement, slavery, social reform, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Populism, Progressivism, the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II, the Civil Rights Movements and the Sixties. This course will have a particular emphasis on the history of American society in this period, where society is considered as the interrelation of economic life, social structure, and politics. It will rely on a mix of primary and secondary sources and also includes a discussion of the contemporary historiography of the discipline. The course provides a more in-depth analysis of the subtleties of US history and students may take US History AP in place of the college-prep version.
Prerequisites: World History.
AP World History
AP World History provides an in-depth overview of the history underlying our global environment today. Students are challenged to examine the development of world history in a comparative format that focuses on continuity and change during five major periods of world history from the beginnings of human civilization c. 8000 BCE to the present. Throughout the course, the causes and processes of continuity and change across historical periods are charted using five unifying themes: interactions between humans and the environment; development and interaction of cultures; state building expansion and conflict; creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems; and development and transformation of social structures. This course prepares students to master the AP World History exam held each year in May.
Honors Contemporary World Studies *
Considering the interconnectedness of the contemporary world is central to this course as students examine the nations beyond America's borders. This class focuses heavily on research and writing skills as students consider the regions of Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, and Asia. In each region, globalization and its discontents are a constant source of analysis. Additionally, this class offers a rigorous examination of the history of each region, delving back into the political, cultural, social, and economical themes that have shaped each region.
'g' Category College Prep Courses
African American History
This yearlong course is designed to introduce students to African American History with particular emphasis on selected individuals who have shaped--and been shaped--by African American struggles for freedom and justice. The primary text of the course will be supplemented by primary sources, which will enable student to develop critical thinking skills. For students who seek a closer examination of major events in US History (such as slavery, the rise and fall of Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement), or a fresh perspective on other events (the role of black troops in the Civil war, the Harlem Renaissance, the role of black women in the suffragette movement), this course will exceed their expectations.
Prerequisites: World History
Ancient History *
This class offers students a detailed introduction to the social and cultural climates of the Ancient Middle East, Greece, and Rome. It covers the era of human history from 3000 BCE to 700 AD and covers the emergence of Mesopotamia, the expansion of the Persian Empire, the conquests of Alexander and the rise of the Hellenistic period. Classical Athens is also complemented by the emergence of Rome, from its Etruscan period through the Republican era, the Punic War, and the rise of the Empire. Students will be exposed to a thorough grounding in the roots of Western Civilization.
Prerequisites: World History and U.S. History
This class enables students to develop their critical appreciation of artistic expression. Through an examination of diverse artistic forms - architecture, painting, and sculpture - from a diverse base of cultures, students develop the skills to examine and evaluate artistic achievements. Students learn to consider: how does the artwork function in context? For whom was the artwork produced? What commentary does the artwork make on such issues as patronage, gender, and race, and what are the functions and effects of works of art? While Art History concentrates on the history and evolution of Western art (from the Ancient Greeks to the present) it will also study artworks that lie beyond European Artistic Traditions, such as those from Africa, Asia, and the global Islamic tradition.
Prerequisites: World History. Students may concurrently enroll in Art History and World History, and may combine the two classes into a single, interdisciplinary course. Students who combine two courses still receive credit for two separate year-long courses.
This class covers the basic concepts and theories of comparative politics through an analysis of selected political systems and governments in Western and non-Western societies. Topics will include ideology, political culture, institutional development, interest group politics, political participation, decision-making, economic development and underdevelopment, collective violence and stability, and political, economic, and bureaucratic elites. Comparative Politics is a course designed to enable students to evaluate critically the political systems of various countries. It will use these nations as the basis of its comparison: Great Britain, Russia, China, Mexico, Nigeria, and Iran. A close evaluation of these nations will allow students to shed light not only on the countries under review but also on their own political system. For those students who are interested in learning about the types of government that exist around the world and the evolving relationship between them and the United States, this course is an ideal primer.
Prerequisites: World History and U.S. History.
Students studying Economics examine the allocation of scarce resources and the economic reasoning used by consumers, producers, savers, investors, workers, voters, and government agencies. This college-prep course emphasizes the study of scarcity, supply and demand, market structures, the role of government, national income determination, money and the role of financial institutions, economic stabilization, and trade. Students studying Economics also learn the basics of international trade and finance, and the effects of international economic policies on domestic and world welfare.
Prerequisite: U.S. History.
Modern Western Religion *
The emergence of modernity as a cohesive world view in the western world, beginning around the turn of the 16th century, challenged many traditional understanding of religion and its role in society. New breakthroughs in scientific, historical and political discourses challenged old formulations of the three dominant western and near-eastern religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This course explores the various historical phenomena that led to these new challenges, and the various reformulations of these three religions that resulted. Through the critical examination of secondary historical texts, primary historical and philosophical documents, and relevant current events, students will consider three distinct kinds of religious responses to modernity: Rationalism, Mysticism and Fundamentalism. In the analysis of these texts, students will gain an understanding of the basic elements of these three religions in language and in practice today. They will understand the necessary limits of comparing different religions as they are practiced in history and as such, students will gain a deeper understanding of the nature of discourse itself.
Prerequisite: World History.
Philosophy and Ethics
This course is designed to introduce students to the discipline of Philosophy and its key questions. Through a selection of core readings, students will consider six key Philosophical Themes: Is there a God? What can I know? Is there free will? What are ethics? What is the meaning of life and death? and What is Political Philosophy? by looking at the answers provided by philosophers such as Socrates, Rene Descartes, Plato, T. H. Huxley, Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre, and John Stuart Mill. This class is designed so that students can appreciate Philosophy as a living discipline; contemporary authors will be considered such as Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, and Bruce Russell and class discussion of texts is we will also be supplementing our discussion from texts with excerpts from movies, television, and podcasts. By their successful completion of this course, students will not only be able to appreciate the nature of philosophical enquiries but also learn the techniques of philosophical reasoning through logic and argument. (This course is also available at the Advanced Level: Advanced Philosophy and Ethics includes an additional unit of study and a more rigorous evaluation of philosophical theories)
Designed to familiarize students with the application of scientific psychology to human life, Psychology has an emphasis on "normal" behavior and its antecedents. This year-long course is designed as an introductory class where student will learn the basic vocabulary and concepts that are necessary to understand the six major branches of psychology: Perception Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Personality Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Social Psychology.
In one (individualized, self-paced) semester (or optionally, two semesters), our Social Justice course invites students--in grades 11 & 12--to explore the nature of what we call 'social justice,' 'social entrepreneurship,' or 'social innovation,' and to come to understand: their own core values; the philosophical rationale that underpins their values; a historical (and value-based) understanding of contemporary (local and global) problems; the effective use of mission statements; frameworks for change; how to use narrative, rhetoric, and technology to advance one's social goals; and how to find effective and 'personally meaningful' ways to contribute to the common good.
Sociology is the systematic study of the groups and societies in which people live. In this introductory course, we examine and analyze how social structures and cultures are created, maintained, and most importantly, how they affect behavior. The course examines ideas such as social stratification, deviance, education, and race and ethnicity to come to conclusions regarding the social systems that govern our civilization. The course deconstructs our taken for granted world of social interactions and behaviors and examines what theory and research can tell about human social behavior.
US History Through Film *
The study of US History through film is a course that engages students with two key elements: the history of film as a popular medium, and history on film. Spanning the twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries, this course investigates the relationship between 'popular' and 'academic' memory as represented through historical film as well as the social and political commentaries that film directors have made through their work. It operates on the fundamental premise that film is an accessible primary source for students, and one that can deepen their appreciation for the manner in which history is written, learned, and understood.
Prerequisites: World History (recommended).
In this class, students will acquire a basic understanding of the history and ideologies of each major world religion including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. This course will provide students with knowledge of the historical development of each religion as well as their specific aspects of the divine; their sacred texts; and the ethical principals specific to each faith. Other topics such as death and the afterlife - as viewed by each religion - will also be covered.
Prerequisite: World History and/or US History.
'g' Category Honors & AP Courses
AP Art History
This course is designed to develop students' understanding and knowledge of the diverse historical and cultural contexts of architecture, sculpture, painting, and other media. Through lectures, slide shows, museum trips and discussions, this course will enable students to examine and critically analyze major forms of artistic expression from the past and present from a variety of cultures; at least 20% of the art considered is from non-western cultures. This class will prepare students thoroughly for the AP Art History exam.
Prerequisites: World History. Students may concurrently enroll in AP Art History and World History, and may combine the two classes into a single, interdisciplinary course. Students who combine two courses still receive credit for two separate year-long courses.
In a world that is increasingly defined by the vagaries of the financial markets, students require a solid grasp of the forces that operate on international trade. AP Macroeconomics is a one-semester long course which introduces students to the underlying principles of the economic system. National income and price-level determination are emphasized and student interest is focused on economic performance indicators, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth and international economics. By its conclusion, students will be able to understand the structure of the economy as a whole system.
Prerequisites: World History
The study of microeconomics requires students to understand that societies often face a population with unlimited wants coupled with resources that are finite and scarce. This course will introduce students to the study of how society manages these scarce resources. What will be produced? By whom? For Whom? This is a small sampling of questions faced everyday by societies and the field of microeconomics attempts to answer these inquiries. This course will also examine how people make decisions such as: how much they work, what they buy, how much they save, and where to invest their savings. In essence, this course is a study of how people interact with one another, make decisions, and how these decisions impact society overall.
Prerequisites: World History
This course is an accelerated, university-level Psychology course that students can take in place of the college-prep version. The AP Psychology course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. They also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.