History students are asked to create meaning from our past and present, developing an ability to understand a historical framework for the world evolving around them. Classes emphasize discussion and oral skills, writing with an emphasis on analytical essays and critical thinking. Students are asked to write history—to formulate, support and document their own views of the past. The use of primary texts is critical in all courses, and student research builds from primary document analysis.
9th Grade Integrated Course Requirement
Ninth grade students are required to take Humans in the Natural World for three credits which integrates English, Social Science and Natural Science. This three-credit course will include the history requirement for the 9th-grade year.
11th Grade American Studies Requirement
American Studies is required for juniors in lieu of 11th grade English and U.S. History to provide richer exploration of American society, culture and history.
History of the Modern World
This course focuses on the major themes in the development and “modernization” of western society and culture, and its relationship to the world at large. Students analyze primary source material to study the spiritual base of medieval society, the individuality of the Renaissance and Reformation, the growth of constitutionalism from the Anglo-Saxon Witan through the 20th century, the process of industrialization and its early critics, the development of nationalism and the impact of World Wars I and II for humanity. The readings range from textbooks and documents to historical novels. Student assignments include tests, papers, library research projects, oral presentations, and formal debates. Texts: Sherman and Salisbury, West in the World; Machiavelli, The Prince; More, Utopia; Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front;Wiesel, Night;and selected other readings.
African Studies aims to better understand the challenges of building African economic and social structures in the wake of European control and exploitation, with emphasis on how the West has projected European Enlightenment assumptions onto a continent with dramatically different social and political attitudes and traditions. The course will be divided between this topical overview (including the historical heritage contained in the continent, and traditional social attitudes) and independent student projects developing an area of special interest.
This course seeks to understand the traditions of religious belief and the nature of the divine in history and across cultures. The course will emphasize religious texts in their historical and cultural context. Writing will include both analytic and personal response. Readings include Huston Smith, The World’s Religions;The Gilgamesh Epic; Herman Hesse, Siddhartha; selections from the Bhagavad Gita, the Old and New Testaments, Dostoevsky, the Koran, Rumi, and the Tao Te Ching.
Introduction to Economics
The term economics is derived from the Greek “rules of the household.” In this course, we look at the way in which economics governs our lives and homes, as well as our political institutions. We will consider the way in which economic actors (ourselves included) make decisions. The course includes a survey of basic economic concepts and terminology. We will take a thematic approach to economics. Articles from the newspaper and news magazines will serve as the backdrop for the class. Students will gain a greater ability to use economic terms and concepts to understand the world. The class concludes with a research assignment in which students design and produce an independent work centered around primary research.
Latin American History
Offered in 2016-2017 and alternate years
This course introduces some of the major forces and events that have shaped Latin America: conquest and colonization, economic imperialism, racial and ethnic integration, religion, and political upheaval. Our course will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding this exciting region of the world. Students will leave the course with a solid background in the defining features of this region as well as a stronger basis for understanding current events.
The Middle East Cauldron
Today, the Middle East remains a focal point of cultural misunderstanding and conflict. This course seeks a greater understanding of this complex and volatile region. The course begins with a look at the political, economic, cultural, and religious influences in the region, from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire to the present, using both primary and secondary sources. Later the course will consider some selected topics from the history of the region, the Sunni Shiite split, and the growth of Islam. The course continues with the complexity of women’s roles with emphasis on Iran, and concludes with an independent project.
Revolutions, a Comparative Study
What conditions and catalysts incite people, or a people, to break into violent rebellion against their ruling powers and elites? What courses do such rebellions take, for better or worse, once under way? This course will seek to better understand these questions by exploring and categorizing a number of large-scale revolutions in the context of selected theoretic models (The English Civil War, The American Revolution, The French Revolution, The Russian and Bolshevik Revolutions, and The Chinese Maoist Revolution). Students will also select, study, and classify a less familiar revolution of their own choosing (Toussaint L’Overture’s Black Revolution in Haiti, for example) which they will write on, and present to the class.
Social Documentary Studies
This course is an opportunity to study the way in which art reflects the world around us. Students will study documentary photographers with a focus on specific bodies of work which are central to our understanding of history and have changed our perception of truth. We begin by using documentary photography to look at the self, move on to an exploration of the "other," and end with social issues. We will focus on photography, but complementary materials will include literature, historical texts, census data, video, as well as sound and music. Project-based work forms the centerpiece of this course and students should be prepared to create their own documentary work. Each student will complete a major self-designed capstone piece that combines photography with research. In addition to exploring the world of social documentary photography, we will also have a chance to meet a number of local photographers as well as use local historical resources. This course is intended for juniors and seniors. Students can take this course for humanities credit.
Sociological Impacts of Food
Food is an ever-present part of our daily experience and a medium through which we can examine our individual and collective heritage. In this course, food becomes the basis for interdisciplinary study. The course is broken into several units: Food and Meaning; Food and Ethics; Food and Justice; and, lastly, Food and Culture. Readings will come from variety of disciplines including anthropology, art, literature, psychology, religion, politics, ecology, economics, psychology, and history. In addition to written research-based assignments, our class will involve experiential activities, many of which include a focus on culinary skills.
How does a social context shape the way we understand, influence, and relate to ourselves and to one another? How do we understand ourselves? How do we maximize the degree of choice we exercise in our lives? And what are the purpose(s) served by our behavior? The field of social psychology looks at how these questions and their answers stretch when the context shifts from the individual to the group or social level. This course will focus on three core areas: social thinking, social influence, and social relations. The course will begin with a half dozen key research studies in their original form, from which students will weave initial questions and interests. From there, with individual questions in one of the three core areas, students will embark on reading through literature and other studies, teaching one another the key concepts, and building an experiment and research project. Students will build this course working together, sharing skills and interests to animate a seminar that pursues both individual and group goals. While much of of the learning will happen collaboratively, the formal written assignments will be designed as individual assessments. This class satisfies a humanities credit.
Topics in Ancient and Modern Chinese History
This course examines the ebb and flow of unity and disunity throughout ancient Chinese history and the modern age. What forces caused China to band together in empire? What forces drove it apart? Students will examine political theory, human movement, and cultural and social norms, and learn how they have influenced Chinese dynasties and states from ancient to modern times. Students will learn the essentials of ancient Chinese history, and topics in modern history including the Opium Wars, the Chinese Civil War, Communist China, and current events.