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Humanities—History and Social Science

The LJCDS Humanities Department’s mission is twofold: to develop students' academic skills and to develop social-emotional and metacognitive skills. 

Through the study of the social sciences and world literature, students become familiar with both historical facts and concepts and with the more general social scientific skills that are especially useful in examining current events. Students gain a deep (albeit developing) understanding of themselves and their humanity, the cross-cultural humanity of others, and the connections between life and literature. 

Through close analysis of texts and the meaning of both spoken and written language, they develop empathy and compassion for the human experience in all of its diverse forms as they also develop their own authentic voices. 

Communication skills are developed through thoughtful and active listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students write concise, effective and clear prose that communicates ideas and supports them with evidence from texts. They actively participate in classroom activities, listening carefully to their peers and articulating ideas that build on and extend others’ points.

In addition to daily participation in classroom discussion, students at all grade levels present oral reports, craft analytical and research-based essays, and complete both individual and group projects. 

  • American Studies: English II/U.S. History

    2 semesters, 1 credit

    American Studies is an interdisciplinary investigation of the nation’s culture, from the earliest people on the land to contemporary society. Students read literature, historical documents, scholarly articles, and more while also viewing art, photographs, and early versions of newspapers, posters, and other forms of public communication. Students write traditional academic essays but also complete inquiry-based projects aimed at independent research and share their results via discussions, debates, role-playing, and the creation of historical documents. The goal of this reading, writing, and viewing is to find connections and patterns that help define American culture. This is a dual-block class: it meets for two blocks and counts for both the English II and the sophomore American history requirements.
  • AP European History

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: World Cultures and Contemporary Problems, U.S. history, AP U.S. History, or American Studies, and permission of the department. Grades 11 and 12.

    This course introduces students to the broad scope of the European past, prepares them for the collegiate study of European history, and prepares them for the AP exam in European history. It has a special emphasis on document interpretation, analytical writing, and thematic thinking. Topics include Europe in a global context, social, economic, and political change, the rise of nationalism and the state, identity, and changes wrought by new ideas.
  • AP Microeconomics

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Department recommendation, completion of Algebra II with Trig with a B+ or higher, and recommendation from the current mathematics teacher.

    Students learn introductory economic theory and prepare for the AP Microeconomics exam. Focused on individual consumers, decision-makers, and producers, this class helps students see economics at work in the world around them and understand the role of various actors in economic exchange. 
  • AP Psychology

    2 semesters, 1 credit 
    Prerequisite: Department recommendation or instructor approval. Grade 12.

    This college-level course explores topics of psychology: research methods, neuropsychology, learning, memory, perception, cognition, states of consciousness, diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, developmental psychology and social psychology. Students learn about careers in psychology and practice applying psychological concepts to everyday life. Students are well prepared for the Advanced Placement examination.
  • AP United States Government

    2 semesters, 1 credit 
    Prerequisite: Department recommendation

    This course is designed to give students a critical perspective of government and politics in the United States. Students are involved in both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific case studies. The class also examines the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that make up the U.S. political reality. Special attention is paid to Supreme Court cases in the areas of civil liberties and civil rights.
  • AP United States History

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: World Cultures & Contemporary Problems and departmental approval of a student’s writing portfolio. Students will attend a DBQ workshop and submit a completed DBQ. Admission is dependent upon the recommendation of the current teacher and the reading committee, approved by the chair. 

    While covering the U.S. history curriculum, this course puts an additional emphasis on reading primary sources and writing. In order to prepare for the Advanced Placement exam, students are asked to answer a number of essays and data-based questions. An interest in the analytical approach to history and an ability to work independently are key to the successful completion of this course.
  • AP World History

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: World Cultures and Contemporary Problems, U.S. History, AP U.S. History, or American Studies, and permission of the department. Grades 11 and 12.

    This course builds on what students learned in WCCP to expand their understanding of world history across time and space. It focuses on the period from 1200CE to the present, offering students an intensive experience of historical interpretation including document analysis, persuasive writing, argument construction, and claims evaluation. A wide range of readings support examinations of change over time in the social, political, economic, and cultural world across the centuries. 
  • Contemporary World History: Asia and the Middle East

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation from current Humanities teacher and approval 
    Studying recent history gives us an incredible chance to learn about how recent events have shaped the world we inhabit. Through in-depth case studies of individual countries, geopolitical role-playing activities, and projects that focus on current events and culture, this class will turn you into a regional expert ready to analyze the political, social and economic change from Istanbul to Tokyo. This year, the first semester examines the modern Middle East, covering topics including revolutions, conflicts, diplomacy, refugees, music, and movies. The second semester shifts to modern East Asia, studying the rise, characteristics, and seismic changes of major players including China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea. This class will cover events from 1945 to the present.
  • Honors Philosophy: The History of Ideas

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation from current Humanities teacher and approval 

    The Greek word “philosophy” means “love of wisdom.” This course will foster a lifelong passion to explore human nature and our relationship to the world. Philosophy is unique because it is reflective. It requires that you ask and it rigorously attempts to answer questions such as: What is real? What can we know with certainty? Does God exist? What is love? How can we achieve happiness? As we study the history of Western, African and Indigenous philosophies, you will find that most famous philosophers did not arrive at irrefutable conclusions; instead, each philosopher’s work provides an important link in a chain that spans the ages and continues to improve how we understand ourselves. In this class, we emphasize questions rather than answers. Not only will we study philosophers through history, but we will also look at specific fields, such as ethics and aesthetics. This course challenges us to reflect on the way we live our lives, teaches us to listen, and improves our ability to give reasons for our beliefs and choices. In an open forum for questions and discussion, we will explore and expand our breadth of knowledge. 
  • Junior Seminars

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: AP U.S. History, U.S. History or American Studies

    Justice & Injustice
    This course explores the American justice system, ranging from the basics of its organization to case studies of the ways it has functioned over time. We seek to answer questions about how justice is conceived, achieved, and thwarted in courts and in society. Readings range across time and space, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions, histories of particular cases, analyses of questions of justice, and foundational texts in our nation’s search for justice. This course is especially recommended for students interested in government and the law. 

    Food & Culture
    This course explores the relationships between food and culture across space and time. The class begins with theory, including Roland Barthes, Sidney Mintz, and Caroline Bynum. It then moves to examinations of the cultural meanings of food and ends with student analyses of food cultures with which they engage. Topics include the politics of food, the relationship of food to oppression, gender and wealth, fear of food and fears associated with food, the economics and characteristics of restaurants, and literature focused on food. We will read broadly in food literature, paying special attention to popular food writing, historical examinations of food, and the place of food in novels, poetry and film. Assessment is primarily discursive and project-based.
  • United States History

    2 semesters, 1 credit 
    Prerequisite: World Cultures & Contemporary Problems

    This survey course examines the history of the United States from the first inhabitants on the land to the modern era and traces significant historical events and the development of ideas critical to understanding the country today. Students will examine the history of the United States both chronologically and thematically in an environment that encourages independent thinking and participation. The themes of the course include geography, citizenship, diversity and unity, immigration and migration, science and technology, and the emergence of the United States as a world power. 
  • World Cultures & Contemporary Problems

    2 semesters, 1 credit 

    World Cultures & Contemporary Problems is a required Grade 9 course that examines early human history and civilizations, from roughly 20,000 years ago until 500 years ago. While investigating the physical and cultural geography of many regions of the earth, the course also applies that information to current global developments. Through daily coursework, a first-semester research paper, and the Oral History Project, students learn to "do" history. They practice historical skills such as primary source analysis, effective note-taking, organizing data and the clear communication of their results. This course prepares students to engage United States History rooted in a global perspective.

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9490 Genesee Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

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