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History

History is the study of the past. However, in an ever increasingly global world where the only constant is change, the study of the past necessitates an understanding beyond the mere recollection of it. At its core, history is a foundational part of the educational process. It pushes us to question the connections between arguments and evidence. It necessitates thoughtful reflection and the evaluation of events, people, and values outside of our own experience. It challenges us to confront the complexity and ambiguity inherent in every human civilization. It compels us to address the relationship between cause and effect, actions with intentions both benign and malevolent, and unanticipated consequences. It is a pursuit of knowledge that borrows techniques and ideas from all corners of academia to address topics from all places and eras. Students in history courses develop these critical skills by analyzing source material, learning to appreciate interdisciplinary debates, exploring research questions, and communicating their findings in a clear and persuasive manner. Students develop and refine these skills over the course of their upper school experience. Courses require students to think independently and creatively, stand apart from their assumptions and preconceptions, and to view the world critically and analytically. Our goal is to develop independent thinkers who are prepared to pursue education or employment in any field or profession.
 

Course Descriptions

Human Geography CP (1 year/1.0 unit)

Human Geography is concerned with the ways in which patterns on Earth’s surface reflect and influence physical and human processes. As such, maps and spatial data are fundamental to the discipline, and learning to use and think about them is critical to geographical literacy. Students will be able to see regions as objects of analysis and move beyond simply locating and describing regions to considering how and why they come into being and what they reveal about the changing character of the world in which we live. At the heart of a geographical perspective is a concern with the ways in which events and processes operating in one place can influence those operating at other places. Thus, students will learn to view places and patterns not in isolation but in terms of their spatial and functional relationship with other places and patterns. Finally, they will be able to achieve awareness that those relationships are constantly changing, and understand how and why change occurs.

Human Geography Honors (1 year/1.0 unit)

The Honors Human Geography course is built around three enduring ideas to create an engaging and relevant social studies course:
  • History is an interrelated story of human interactions with the world.
    The course explores the invisible structures and forces that shape and reflect the regions, communities, governments, economies, and cultures of humanity. These big ideas help students develop an organized and meaningful understanding of time and space.
  • History and geography are inherently dynamic.
    As historians and geographers uncover new evidence, current assumptions are challenged and previous arguments and narratives gain complexity, nuance, and context. This course teaches students how to examine sources and data, establish inferences, and ultimately build and critique arguments.
  • Historians and geographers are investigators.
    Learning in Human Geography is designed to be a disciplinary apprenticeship in which students participate in the process of discovery. Students will play the role of historian and geographer by practicing the detective skills and using the tools of each craft. Throughout the course, students will work to evaluate evidence through various sources, incorporate evidence into written and oral arguments, and explain historical relationships through causality, correlation, continuity, and change over time.
 
Prerequisite: departmental approval

AP Human Geography (1 year/1.0 unit)

The Advanced Placement Program offers a course and exam in Human Geography to qualified students who wish to complete studies in secondary school equivalent to an introductory college course in human geography. The purpose of the AP Human Geography course is to introduce students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. The course is divided into seven independent units comprising of Geography: Its Nature and Perspectives, Population, Cultural Patterns and Processes, Political Organization of Space, Agriculture and Rural Land Use, Industrialization and Economic Development, and Cities and Urban Land Use. Students employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human social organization and its environmental consequences. They also learn about the methods and tools geographers use in their science and practice. On successful completion of the course, students should have the skills that enable them to:
  • Use and think about maps and spatial data.
  • Understand and interpret the implications of associations among phenomena in places.
  • Recognize and interpret at different scales the relationships among patterns and processes.
  • Define regions and evaluate the regionalization process.
  • Characterize and analyze changing interconnections among places.
Prerequisite: Departmental approval (writing sample--freshmen)

World History CP (1 year/1.0 unit)

World History 2 begins with the Renaissance and ends in the present. Focus is placed upon the changing relationship between Western Europe and Africa, South Asia, and China, as well as the exploration and colonization of the Americas. Major revolutions will be covered, including those in the Americas, France, Russia, and China. Special attention will be paid to the themes of humans interacting with the environment and civilizations interacting with one another. Why, for example, did Western Europeans feel compelled to explore? How can the two World Wars be seen as civil wars? The course will recognize that a study of civilizations includes a study of all of the components that constitute a society: politics, economics, religion, art, literature, etc. Students will work with primary sources, refining their ability to evaluate and summarize material. A study of the world’s major civilizations also provides ample opportunity to practice reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
 
Prerequisite: Human Geography

World History Honors ( 1 year/1.0 unit)

In addition to World History 2 CP course description, Honors students will be expected to evaluate, summarize, and synthesize primary source material at a higher level than that which is required at the college prep level. Already-strong abilities in reading, writing, and critical thinking will be refined.
 
Prerequisite: Human Geography

AP World History (1 year/1.0 unit)

The AP® program enables students to pursue college-level study while still in high school. This course is the second year in a two-year study begun in 9th grade. The expectation is that students take the national exam at the end of this year--the sophomore year--and, based upon their performance on the exam, they may receive credit from the college or university they choose to attend. AP® World spans 1450 until the present. The major civilizations studied in World History will be covered—including Western Europe, the Americas, Russia, and China—but students will be expected to analyze and compare the complexities of those civilizations and the interactions between environment, religious beliefs, and social and political structures. Students will be asked to engage in consistent critical thinking and essay writing. They will work with a large number of primary sources, and will learn to analyze and evaluate like a historian.
 
Prerequisite: Departmental approval and writing sample

US History CP (1 year/1.0 unit)

This class offers students a historical overview of the history of the United States, while also trying to promote an awareness of the striking diversity of views that both characterize and shape its history. In addition to providing a broad introduction to the modern United States, the course is intended to achieve several more specific goals.
  • One of the course objectives is to expose students to what historians do. History is a discipline that entails learning how to review and gather evidence in a manner that offers greater understanding of events, issues, and people based on historical evidence. To that end, students will be required to read and analyze a number of historical documents created by the historical actors we will be studying.
  • Whatever career students are considering entering, strong oral and written communication skills are a necessity. As such, this course is designed to help improve students' abilities to articulate their ideas clearly and concisely.
  • In pursuing each of these objectives, students will be "doing" history. Many people have the misperception that history is simply remembering facts: names, dates, places, etc. To be sure, learning history is one of the things students will be doing, and it does entail knowing facts. But students will be doing much more than just that. They will be recovering history by looking at a variety of historical sources. They will be thinking historically by learning to understand the past and the people who inhabited it on their own terms while also recognizing how our views of the past are shaped by our own experiences. In the process, students should also connect to history by placing their own experiences in the broader context of the world. Throughout this process, I hope students will realize that "doing" history can also be quite fun.

US History Honors (1 year/1.0 unit)

The purpose of the Honors U.S. History course is designed to provide students with the analytic skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in U.S. history. The course serves as a chronological survey of the history of the United States from the colonial period to the present. There is an emphasis that goes beyond the memorization of facts to the interpretation and analysis of historical data and writings. The course integrates civics and citizenship into the thematic learning objectives covered throughout the year to prepare students to act as informed citizens of the country they live in. Throughout the course, students will be "doing" history and not simply "learning" history. Many people have the misperception that history is simply remembering facts: names, dates, places, etc. To be sure, learning history is one of the things students will be doing, and it does entail knowing facts. But students will be doing much more than just that. They will be recovering history by looking at a variety of historical sources. They will be thinking historically by learning to understand the past and the people who inhabited it on their own terms while also recognizing how our views of the past are shaped by our own experiences. In the process, students should also connect to history by placing their own experiences in the broader context of the world. Throughout this process, I hope students will realize that "doing" history can also be quite fun.
 
Prerequisite: Departmental approval

AP US History (1 year/1.0 unit)

The Advanced Placement U.S. History course is designed to provide students with the analytic skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in U.S. history. The program prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands upon them equivalent to those made by full-year introductory college courses. Students are assessed at the end of the year by taking the AP US History exam, a comprehensive multiple choice and essay based exam. Students will learn to assess historical materials—their relevance to a given interpretive problem, reliability, and importance—and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. Students will develop the skills necessary to arrive at conclusions on the basis of an informed judgment and to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively in essay format. By the time of the AP exam, students will be able to draw upon a reservoir of systematic factual knowledge in order to exercise analytic skills intelligently. This course will prepare students to take the AP exam by studying the following themes:
  • American Diversity- Students will come to understand the diversity of the American people and the relationships between these groups is very important. The roles of race, class, ethnicity, and gender are crucial to understanding key points of US history.
  • American Identity- Students will become acquainted with individual views of the American character and ideas about American exceptionalism.
  • Culture- Students will gain an appreciation for individual and collective expression through art, philosophy, music, theater, and film throughout history.
  • Demographic Changes- Students will learn about changes in birth, marriage, and death rates, and how they affect the population as a whole. They will also come to understand life expectancy, family patterns, population size and density, as well as the political and social effects of immigration internal migration.
  • Economic Transformations- Students will gain an understanding of how changes in trade, commerce, and technology affect a nation across time. The effects of capitalism, labor disputes, and consumerism will also come into play.
  • Globalizations- Students will begin to understand the United States’ influence around the world, and their effect on ecological, social, and environmental conflicts across the globe.
  • Religion- Students will learn about a variety of religious beliefs and practices in America from prehistory to the 20th century, and how religions influence politics, economics, and society as a whole.
Prerequisite: Departmental approval

AP European History (1 year/1.0 unit)

AP European History is designed to be the equivalent of a two-semester introductory college or university European history course. In AP® European History students investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes in four historical periods from approximately 1450 to the present. Students develop and use the same skills, practices, and methods employed by historians: analyzing historical evidence; contextualization; comparison; causation; change and continuity over time; and argument development. The course also provides six themes that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places: interaction of Europe and the world; poverty and prosperity; objective knowledge and subjective visions; states and other institutions of power; individual and society; and national and European identity.
 
Prerequisite: Departmental approval