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History and Social Science

Social science 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. Communication skills are developed through thoughtful and active listening, speaking, reading and writing. In addition to daily participation in classroom discussion, students at all grade levels present formal oral reports on topics mutually agreed upon by student and teacher. All students are required to present a formal written research essay developed around a revlevant question. In the classroom, the “directed discussion” format prevails over lectures, which are usually no more than half a class period in length.
 
Class periods for small-group study projects and independent reading are scheduled when appropriate. Midterm and final exams emphasize the writing of essays and practice in answering multiple-choice questions of the type commonly encountered in the College Board testing program.
  • American Studies: History

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: World Cultures & Contemporary Problems II, AP European History or AP World History

    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 Students read literature, historical documents, scholarly articles and more while also viewing art, photographs and early versions of newspapers, posters and other forms of public communication.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aimed at independent research and share their results via discussions, debates, role playing and the creation of historical documents.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.
  • AP Art History

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: AP World, AP English Lit, AP U.S. History or advanced-level VAPA course.

    AP Art History provides the same benefits to Upper School students as those provided by an introductory college course in art history: an understanding and enjoyment of architecture, sculpture, painting and other art forms within historical and cultural contexts. Issues such as politics, religion, patronage, gender, function and ethnicity are explored. Students examine major forms of past and present artistic expression from an assortment of cultures and disciplines. They learn how to look at works of art critically, with intelligence and sensitivity, and they learn how to effectively analyze what they see through a multitude of critical analysis assignments.
  • AP Psychology

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: Department recommendation or instructor approval. Grades 10-12

    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 II or AP World History, and department recommendation

    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 essay and databased questions. An interest in the analytical approach to history and an ability to work independently are key to success in this course.
  • Economics (Semester 1: Microeconomics; Semester 2: Macroeconomics)

    2 semesters, 1 credit (can also be taken for 1 semester, 1/2 credit)
    Grades 11 and 12 only

    This is a yearlong non-mathematical introductory course. The first semester focuses on microeconomics, including comparison of the different economic systems, analyses of the way markets work in the United States and the roles played by business and labor. In addition, students read and discuss the best-selling book "Freakonomics." The second semester is reserved for macroeconomics, including the study of taxes, budgets and competing analytical theories about the role that the federal government should play in the economy. The semester concludes with a study of international trade. Students write analytical essays, prepare individual and group presentations, and participate in the Stock Market Game.
  • Psychology

    1 semester, 1/2 credit; 2nd semester only
    Grades 10-12

    Psychology is a survey course that examines the study of the human mind and human behavior. Beginning with psychology's origins in philosophy, the course touches on research methods, the relationship between the brain and behavior, sensation and perception, consciousness and cognition, and mental illness and psychotherapies. Discussion topics include not only psychological concepts but aesthetics, morality, meaning, knowledge and love. Films relevant to psychology are viewed and discussed, and readings are drawn from an introductory psychology text, Platonic dialogues, and Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. This course stands alone as a foundational course in psychology but may also be taken as preparation for AP Psychology.
  • United States Government

    2 semesters, 1 credit

    This course introduces Grade 12 students to the government and politics of the United States. The key topics include the Constitution, the organization and activities of the three branches, the role of the political parties and the election process. Special attention is paid to Supreme Court cases in the areas of civil liberties and civil rights. Students are required to stay abreast of current political issues and events.
  • United States History

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: World Cultures & Contemporary Problems II, AP European History or AP World History

    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. 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. Current events are emphasized and discussed throughout the year.
  • 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.