COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

World History
This course traces the evolution of the world from ancient times to the global interdependence of present-day. World History emphasizes the emergence of interdependence among regions – an interaction that was stimulated by the European invasions and colonizations, and sustained by the contributions of the non-Western regions. Collectively, these forces shaped the modern world. To understand global histories as being inter-connected, students will analyze the political, economic, social, cultural, demographic, and ecological implications of history, and will draw upon materials and pedagogical approaches from other disciplines, such as political science, anthropology, literature, feminist studies, and art. 

As an alternate approach to a World History class, students can choose Big History.  Big History is a world history course that situates human history across vast scales of time and space as it begins with the Big Bang, moves through the present, and even asks students to consider the future. The course seeks to unravel a modern story of our interconnected existence, from a Big Bang origin of space and time, through the creation of stars, the aggregation of planets, the development of the Earth, and the geological formation of continents. Big History students go on to engage with the evolution of life on Earth, the influence of language, and the emergence of agrarian civilizations and the first city-states. Then students explore the rapidly growing interconnection among humans and the collision of cultures, the modern industrialized world, humans’ relationship with the biosphere, and the nature of collective learning that shapes life today. An integrative, interdisciplinary approach allows students to study the history of the events that produced our world, and also the history of the disciplines that uncovered them. Big History students integrate the knowledge produced by these disciplines into a coherent historical story—the story of everything—and they place themselves in the context of this big story.

AP World History                                                                                                                                                                        AP World History provides an in-depth overview of the history underlying our global environment today.  Students are challenged to examine the development of world history in a comparative format that focuses on continuity and change during five major periods of world history from the beginnings of human civilization c. 8000 BCE to the present. Throughout the course, the causes and processes of continuity and change across historical periods are charted using five unifying themes: interactions between humans and the environment; development and interaction of cultures; state building, expansion, and conflict; creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems; and development and transformation of social structures. This course prepares students for the AP World History exam held each year in May. 

TEXT: Howard Spodek, The World's History (Combined Volume). ISBN: 0131928686

American Studies: U.S. History
This course is designed to be taken in conjunction with American Studies: Literature & Composition.  The course can be considered an inquiry into the nature of modernity in the west through a careful study of the history and literature of the United States of America. The study of the History of American society and its literature, from this new beginning through the 20th century, prompts students to continually redefine the words that constitute the topic of study: America, Literature, and History.  Students are asked to immerse themselves into the dynamic interplay between ideas, historical events, and their own lives. 

U.S. History
This course offers an overview of U.S. History, from pre-colonial times to the present day.  Students study the core events and ideologies that have fundamentally shaped the American continents and impacted the world at large. Noted subjects are the foundations of the American Republic, the causes and consequences of the Civil War, the rise of Industrial America, the Progressive Era, American Foreign Policy, The Great Depression, World War Two, the Civil Rights Movement, and the social change wrought by the Sixties generation.  Students hone their ability to assimilate information to form a ‘big picture’ view of history. Students use their analyses to arrive at conclusions about historical events and present these conclusions persuasively in essay format.

TEXT: John M. Murrain, Liberty, Equality, and Power (Volume 2: Since 1863). ISBN 045903833.

AP United States History
This course is designed to help students to develop a critical appraisal of US History. Topics of note are: the American Revolution, the political framework of the American Republic, western expansion, indigenous displacement, slavery, social reform, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Populism, Progressivism, the Great Depression, the New Deal, World War II, the Civil Rights Movements and the Sixties. This course relies on a mix of primary and secondary sources and also includes a discussion of the contemporary historiography of the discipline. This course provides an in-depth analysis of the subtleties of US history and prepares students for the AP United States History exam held each year in May.

U.S. Government (one semester)
Students studying Government develop a broad understanding of the American Constitutional system. Throughout this course students develop an appreciation of the ideals of American democracy and how they have been incorporated into the American system of government.  Students acquire a working knowledge of the Constitution, how it has been interpreted, and how it applies to the modern world. The roles and functions of parties, campaigns, and elections are key to the class focus as well as the role of media and popular opinion on in- fluencing the political process. During in-class discussions and in essay responses, students apply these concepts to current political issues and events. 

AP Government & Politics: United States (one semester)
Abraham Lincoln spoke of the ‘mystic chords of memory’ stretching from ‘every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land.’ But what are the institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute the American nation? How have they been shaped and re-shaped over the course of US History? This course is intended to ground students in an understanding of the U.S. government and orient them to the intellectual and political chords of memory that have shaped and been shaped by its citizenry. Students will leave this class with a clear understanding of the role of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches; the ideologies of political parties; the evolution of public policy in the United States; and the constitutional underpinnings of the United States.  This course prepares students for the AP Government & Politics: United States exam held each year in May.

Comparative Government & Politics
This class covers the basic concepts and theories of comparative politics through an analysis of selected political systems and governments in Western and non-Western societies. Topics will include ideology, political culture, institutional development, interest group politics, political participation, decision-making, economic development and underdevelopment, collective violence and stability, and political, economic, and bureaucratic elites.  For students who are interested in learning about the types of government that exist around the world and the evolving relationship between them and the United States, this course is an ideal primer. 

AP Government & Politics: Comparative (one semester)
This course covers the basic concepts and theories of comparative politics through an analysis of selected political systems and governments in Western and non-Western societies.  Topics  include ideology, political culture, institutional development, interest group politics, political participation, decision-making, economic development and underdevelopment, collective violence and stability, and political, economic, and bureaucratic elites. The countries reviewed are Great Britain, Russia, Mexico, Iran, China, and Nigeria.  This course prepares students for the AP Government & Politics: Comparative exam held each year in May.

Economics
Students studying Economics examine the allocation of scarce resources and the economic reasoning used by consumers, producers, savers, investors, workers, voters, and government agencies. This course emphasizes the study of scarcity, supply and demand, market structures, the role of government, national income determination, money and the role of financial institutions, economic stabilization, and trade. Students studying Economics also learn the basics of international trade and finance, and the effects of international economic policies on domestic and global welfare.

AP Microeconomics (semester)
This course will introduce students to the study of how society manages these scarce resources.  Students will examine people as economic actors: how they make decisions and how those decisions create and economic reality.  This course prepares students for the AP Microeconomics exam held each year in May.

TEXT: Campbell R. McConnell and Stanley L. Brue, Microeconomics: Principles, Problems, and Policies. ISBN: 9780073273099.

AP Macroeconomics (semester)
AP Macroeconomics introduces students to the underlying principles of the economic system.  Among topics covered are national income and price-level determination while students further  consider economic performance indicators, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth and international economics. By its conclusion, students will be able to understand the structure of the economy as a whole system.  This course prepares students for the AP Macroeconomics exam held each year in May.

TEXT: Campbell R. McConnell and Stanley L. Brue, Macroeconomics: Principles, Problems, and Policies. ISBN: 9780077337728

European History
The study of European history since 1450 introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world.  It will provide students with an understanding of some of the principal themes in modern European history, an ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and an ability to express historical understanding in writing. European History is divided into two semesters: the first covers the period from 1450 to rise of Napoleon at the turn of the 19th century; the second begins with 19th century industrialization and concludes with a study of post-Cold War Europe.

AP European History
History is the study of trends, populations, economies, societies, identities and most importantly, people.  This course will not only provide students with an in-depth study of history but also  the methodology and contextualization of history.  Special emphasis will be placed on understanding bias, interpretation, and motivation.  AP European History will focus on the interpretation of the history of Europe since 1450 and how it has led to the modern geo-political and socio-economic reality.  This course prepares students for the AP European History exam held each year in May.

African American History
This course is designed to introduce students to African American History with particular emphasis on selected individuals who have shaped–and been shaped–by African American struggles for freedom and justice. The primary text of the course will be supplemented by primary sources, which will enable student to develop critical thinking skills. For students who seek a closer examination of major events in US History (such as slavery, the rise and fall of Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement), or a fresh perspective on other events (the role of black troops in the Civil War, the Harlem Renaissance, the role of black women in the suffragette movement), this course provides those opportunities.

Ancient History (one semester)
This course offers students an introduction to the social and cultural climates of the Ancient Middle East, Greece, and Rome. Students study the era of human history from 3000 BCE to 700 AD and cover the emergence of Mesopotamia, the expansion of the Persian Empire, the conquests of Alexander and the rise of the Hellenistic period. Study extends to the emergence of Rome, from its Etruscan period through the Republican era; the Punic War; and the rise of the Empire. Students will develop a thorough grounding in the roots of Western Civilization.

Contemporary World Studies (one semester)                                                                                                                         How can we understand the world around us and the evolving threads of politics, culture, and economies that tie us together?  This course is an introduction to globalization and its impact on the world: Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, and Asia. It orients students to the ties between nation states in each region; historical, geographical and economic factors that encompass each place; and the intersection of ethnic, cultural, and religious populations. At the conclusion of this course, students are well-placed to understand the currents of world politics and the relationship between America and the world around her.  While the course focus is on the 20th and 21st centuries, students will delve further into the past to provide important contextual narratives. 

Philosophy & Ethics (college prep & honors) (one semester)
This course is designed to introduce students to the discipline of Philosophy and its key questions. Through a selection of core readings, students will consider six key Philosophical Questions: Is there a God? What can I know? Is there free will? What are ethics? What is the meaning of life and death? and What is Political Philosophy? by looking at the answers provided by philosophers such as Socrates, Rene Descartes, Plato, T. H. Huxley, Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre, and John Stuart Mill. This class is designed so that students can appreciate Philosophy as a living discipline.  Contemporary authors will be considered, such as Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer, and Bruce Russell.  Students will not only be able to appreciate the nature of philosophical enquiries but also learn the techniques of philosophical reasoning through logic and argument.

Social Justice (semester)
This social justice elective begins with the premise that knowledge is a means of engagement and empowerment.  While some review of theory and history will provide a contextual framework, the emphasis will remain with readings of accounts by selected individuals, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, and Cesar Chavez.  Particular attention will be paid to scale development within movements and strategies.  Specific eras in the expansion of civil and human rights will be examined through the lens of Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of the ‘tipping point’ and James Lawson’s framework for nonviolent action.

Sociology (semester)
Sociology is the systematic study of the groups and societies in which people live.  In this introductory course, we examine and analyze how social structures and cultures are created, maintained, and most importantly, how they affect behavior. The course examines social stratification, deviance, education, and race and ethnicity seeking what we can conclude about our social systems.  As students deconstruct the social interactions and behaviors, they study what theory and research can tell about human social behavior.

US History Through Film
The study of US History through film engages students with two key elements: the history of film as a popular medium, and history on film. Spanning the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, this course investigates the relationship between ‘popular’ and ‘academic’ memory as represented through historical film as well as the social and political commentaries that  directors make through their work.

World Religions
In this course, students acquire a basic understanding of the history and ideologies of the major world religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.  This course will provide students with knowledge of the historical development of each religion as well as the sacred texts and ethical principles specific to each faith.  Other topics such as death and the afterlife, and concepts of divinity within each faith perspective will be covered.