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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: U.S. History/English II

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: English I and Global History (formerly WCCP)

    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 Students read literature, historical documents, scholarly articles and more while also viewing art, photographs, and early versions of newspapers, posters and other forms of public communication.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aimed at independent research and share their results via discussions, debates, role-playing and the creation of historical documents.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: Global History (or WCCP), 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 Psychology

    2 semesters, 1 credit 
    Prerequisite: Department recommendation or instructor approval.
    This is a senior course, juniors may enroll, space permitting, with permission of US Dean. AP Psychology does not satisfy a history graduation requirement.

    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: Global History (formerly WCCP) and recommendation. Students must inform their Global History teacher of their interest in APUSH. 

    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: Global (or WCCP), 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: Latin America and the Caribbean

    2 semesters, 1 credit
     
    This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding patterns of cultural and economic development in the Spanish, French and Portuguese speaking countries that are loosely grouped together as modern-day Latin America. Beginning in 1888 with the abolishment of slavery in Brazil, students will compare how newly independent countries across the region forged different visions of postcolonial identity and attempted to invent singular national narratives despite the geographic, economic, racial and linguistic diversity within their individual borders. The first semester of CWH will focus on foreign relations between Latin American countries and conclude with the civil armed conflicts and mass human rights abuses during the U.S. and Soviet proxy wars in the region during the 1970s and 1980s. In the second semester, we will focus on culture and the arts in post-Cold War Latin America as well as the Latin American immigration experience through film, music and television. What does it mean to be the first Indigenous president of Bolivia? How does a country as poor as Cuba manage a literacy rate higher than the United States? What constitutes responsible tourism in the Caribbean in the pandemic era? Students will have a central textbook for the course as well as the opportunity for country-specific and theme-specific research projects and presentations.
  • Global History

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Prerequisite: None


    Global History 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 clear communication of their results. This course prepares students to engage United States history rooted in a global perspective.
  • Philosophy: The History of Ideas

    2 semesters, 1 credit

    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 rigorously attempt 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 discussions, we will explore and expand our breadth of knowledge.
  • Philosophy: The History of Ideas (Honors)

    2 semesters, 1 credit
    Honors option 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 rigorously attempt 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 discussions, we will explore and expand our breadth of knowledge. 
  • Senior and Junior Seminars

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

    -Civil Rights & Popular Culture
    In this course, students will examine the power of popular culture in shaping a number of social movements in the United States and abroad. We will study the history of the development of various forms of popular culture as well as the sociological concepts related to popular culture’s ability to shape attitudes and behaviors. Particular attention will be paid to the myriad ways in which popular culture has influenced social attitudes related to race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation and religion. We will explore the ways in which social justice movements have harnessed the power of popular culture and the ways in which popular culture has also been used to divide communities and deepen stereotypes. 

    From Woody Guthrie to Kendrick Lamar and from the Harlem Renaissance to Black Lives Matter, we will draw connections between past and present in an environment that encourages open-minded discussion and reflection. Readings will run the gamut from personal essays from acclaimed cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib to college-level sociology texts including John Fiske’s Understanding Popular Culture and T.V. Reed’s The Art of Protest. Students will also frequently apply new sociological concepts to the media they consume on their own time in a number of written analyses. We will learn to see the popular culture that surrounds us in an entirely new light.

    -Justice & Injustice
    This course provides students with experiences to study individual rights provided to them by the United States Constitution and other related laws. Students will deal with the direct and indirect effects the government has on their everyday lives, what rights they possess as an American citizen, and what responsibilities each citizen has to their government on the local, state and national levels. Students will also examine the basic ideals of our global economy and what effects these ideals have not just on our government, but also on our everyday lives. Other relevant topics included in this course are elections/voter registration process, United States foreign policy and social issues that concern young adults. Topics include the principles and foundations of American government, the Constitution and its creation, the three branches of American government and their functions, the American political process and party politics, state and local politics, economic systems and basic principles of government as a global system. Students will have a textbook and reading packets taken from monographs related to the U.S. government. 
  • The American Civil War (H)

    2 semesters, 1 credit 
    Prerequisite: Recommendation from current humanities teacher and approval 

    This course traces the origins of the American Civil War and evaluates its course and consequences. Beginning with the colonial period, it follows the establishment of differing social and economic systems in different parts of British North America. It then analyzes the revolutionary period and the political agreements and tensions of those years. As students move into the 19th century, they encounter many problems that pushed Americans away from one another and toward conflict. Those years, from 1820 to 1859, comprise a significant portion of the class and lead students to the war itself in the late fall. The study of the war as a conflict – militarily, politically, socially, legally, economically – occupies the winter. Students will read monographs on the Civil War, including Bruce Levine's Confederate Emancipation, Lorien Foote's The Yankee Plague, Adam Domby's The False Cause, and Nina Silber's the Romance of Reunion. In addition, students will read a wide range of chapters and articles. Students will write a comparative book review in the fall and a research paper in the winter on topics related to the causes, coming, events and consequences of the war.
  • United States History

    2 semesters, 1 credit 
    Prerequisite: Global History (formerly WCCP)

    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 U.S. 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. 

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