Social Studies

Philosophy
The social studies department familiarizes students with democratic institutions as well as competing or conflicting ideologies. Since modern citizens must be locally, nationally, and globally informed, students learn to analyze complex, often controversial issues, and to recognize their potential influence on and responsibility for our global society. Our goal is to create an appreciation for diversity and a foundation for world peace.
Course Offerings and Descriptions
The Foundations Social Studies course is designed to introduce students to the historical reasoning skills (HRS) and analytical skills needed to successfully complete an AP level history or social science class. The following themes covering the period from 1491 to the present will be explored: American and national identity; politics and power; work, exchange, and technology; culture and society; migration and settlement; geography and environment; and America in the world. Students will engage in analytical reading, document based questions, content-relevant literature, independent note taking, group and individual research projects, timed writing in response to specific prompts, and interpreting graphs, charts, maps, and political cartoons. The following HRS will be stressed: chronological reasoning, comparison and contextualization, crafting historical arguments from historical evidence, and historical interpretation and synthesis. The analytical skills developed will include: using graphs, charts, and data to analyze, describe, and explain political, economic, and behavioral concepts.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: I
Open to Grade: 8
Prerequisite: None
This course builds students’ essential skills and confidence to prepare them for a range of AP history and social science coursework during high school, including AP Human Geography and AP World History. The course is built around three ideas and three areas of focus. Ideas: History is an interrelated story of the world; history and geography are inherently dynamic; and historians and geographers are investigators. Areas of focus: evaluating evidence from a range of primary and secondary sources; incorporating evidence of quantitative, qualitative, and spacial data into written and oral arguments; and explaining historical and geographic relationships by explaining relationships among events and people by marshaling evidence for causation, comparison, contextualization, and continuity and change over time. This course is paced more rapidly than SOC 8.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: II
Open to: Grade 8
Prerequisite: Enrollment based on placement testing
The Foundations Social Studies course is designed to introduce students to the historical reasoning skills (HRS) and analytical skills needed to successfully complete an AP level history or social science class. The following themes covering the period from 600 B.C.E. to the present will be explored: Technological and Environmental Transformations; Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies; Regional and Interregional Interactions; Global Interactions; Industrialization and Global Integration; and Accelerating Global Change and Realignments. Students will engage in analytical reading, document based questions, content-relevant literature, independent note taking, group and individual research projects, timed writing in response to specific prompts, and interpreting graphs, charts, maps, and political cartoons. The following HRS will be stressed: chronological reasoning, comparison and contextualization, crafting historical arguments from historical evidence, and historical interpretation and synthesis. The analytical skills developed will include: using graphs, charts, and data to analyze, describe, and explain political, economic, and behavioral concepts.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: I
Open to Grades: 9
Prerequisite: None
The Honor World Cultures course is designed for students who have demonstrated superior performance in eighth grade. This course covers the core curriculum content areas from prehistory to the Post 9/11 world in great depth and at an accelerated pace. Using primary and secondary sources, students will master the critical reading and writing skills needed to excel in upper level history and social science classes. Students who wish to enroll must pass a departmental entrance examination.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: II
Open to Grades: 9
Prerequisite: Enrollment based on teacher recommendation
This course, a requirement for all 10th grade students, studies the history of the United States from its founding to the Reconstruction Era. The course is divided into four specific periods: Colonization to the American Revolution; the Constitution; Jefferson to Lincoln; the Civil War and Reconstruction.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: I
Open to Grades: 10
Prerequisite: None
Taught as a preparation for junior year Advanced Placement American History, Honors US I is open to all 10th grade students who demonstrate both the interest and ability to tackle an in-depth study of American History. The course spans the Colonial period to the Civil War, with an emphasis on the Revolutionary period, the Constitution, Jacksonian Democracy, Nationalism, the Civil War and Reconstruction. Students will engage in analytical reading, document based questions, content-relevant literature, independent note taking, group and individual research projects, timed writing in response to specific prompts, and interpreting graphs, charts, maps, and political cartoons. The following HRS will be stressed: chronological reasoning, comparison and contextualization, crafting historical arguments from historical evidence, and historical interpretation and synthesis. The analytical skills developed will include: using graphs, charts, and data to analyze, describe, and explain political, economic, and behavioral concepts.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: II
Open to Grades: 10
Prerequisite: Final grade of 83 in Honors World Cultures or final grade of 83 in AP World History or final grade of 93 in World Cultures
This course, a requirement for all 11th grade students, surveys the social, political, economic, cultural, and intellectual history of the United States from the Civil War/Reconstruction era to the present. Topics examined will include industrialization, immigration, world wars, the Great Depression, Cold War and post-Cold War eras. Additionally, themes include consumer society, culture, religion, civil and human rights, technological change, economic change, urbanization and suburbanization, the expansion of the federal government, and the study of U.S. foreign policy.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: I
Open to Grades: 11
Prerequisite: Final grade of 65 in US History I
This course is open to 11th grade students who wish to pursue an in-depth study of American History. Topics include United States history from the Age of Imperialism to modern times, with an emphasis on the Progressive era, the World Wars and their consequences (including the Holocaust, the Cold War, the rise of consumerism), the modern Civil Rights and Women’s Movements, Vietnam, Watergate and its aftermath, and New Federalism. Using primary and secondary sources, students must demonstrate their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: II
Open to Grades: 11
Prerequisite: Final grade of 83 in Honors United States History I or 93 in United States History I.
The course begins with a survey of sociology: the study of culture, social structure, social institutions; the role of class, race, and gender in our society; the impact of inequality on people's lives; and finally, the impact of society on the individual. The psychology portion of the class covers learning, cognitive processes, and socialization: students will explore the connection between mind and body; various personality and psychological tests; and abnormal psychology and its relevant therapies. This course is designed to hone critical thinking and observation skills as well as to deepen the students’ understanding of the world and themselves.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: I
Open to Grades: 11,12
Prerequisite: None
This course explores how the Constitution works in the 21st Century by tracing the development of Constitutional doctrine, the growth of US Supreme Court power and its relationships with other branches of government using debates, case studies, and simulations. Discussed are major constitutional law decisions, their political and social impact, and the flexibility of the Constitution to apply 235 year old principles to a modern technological society.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: I
Open to Grades: 11,12
Prerequisite: U.S. History I
Given our media-driven society, students must learn how to analyze and evaluate all forms of communication and discuss the rights, responsibilities and interdependence of media in a diverse global society. The course surveys and assesses mass media in economic, historical, political, psychological, and sociological terms, with an emphasis on the power and significance of mass communications: books, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, motion pictures, the Internet, social media, and advertising.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: I
Open to Grades: 12
Prerequisite: None.
This course includes an in-depth historical survey of various legal systems and trial methods. Students will study noteworthy trials from Socrates to Saddam Hussein, as well as actual trial transcripts, Supreme Court opinions, forensic data, mock trials, and oral arguments.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: I
Open to Grades: 11, 12
Prerequisite: None.
AP World History is structured around the investigation of five course themes in six different chronological periods. Rather than simply collect and memorize facts, students must master key concepts for each historical period through the investigation of five overarching themes: (1) interaction between humans and the environment; (2) development and interaction of cultures; (3) state-building, expansion, and conflict; (4) creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems; and (5) development and transformation of social structures. By focusing on these themes, students will develop historical thinking skills necessary to analyze change and continuity over time, identify global processes, compare and contrast societies, and explore the broad trends of world history. Students enrolled in the course are required to sit for the College Board Advanced Placement examination in World History. A satisfactory score on this examination can lead to college credit for the course.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: III
Open to Grades: 10, 11, 12
Prerequisite: For grades 10-12 a final grade of 87 in Honors World Cultures, Honors U.S. History I or II or a final grade of 97 in Regular World Cultures, U.S. History I or II. PJ 9th graders based on teacher recommendation and enrollment in Honors 8th Grade Social Studies. Other incoming 9th graders must take a placement exam.
AP European History is a comprehensive course tracing the development of European civilizations from the High Renaissance to the present. Major areas of concentration include the political, social, economic, and diplomatic development of the European nations. The intellectual and cultural history of Europe is also addressed along with a study of European literature, arts, and music. Students enrolled in the course are required to sit for the College Board Advanced Placement examination in European History at the end of the school year. A satisfactory score on this examination may lead to college credit for the course.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: III
Open to Grades: 10, 11, 12
Prerequisite: Incoming 10th graders: an 83 in AP World History, or an 87 in Honors World Cultures, or a 97 in World Cultures. Incoming 11th graders: an 83 in any AP Social Studies course, an 87 in Honors US History I, or a 97 in US History I. Incoming 12th graders: an 83 in any AP Social Studies course, an 87 in Honors US History II, or a 97 in US History II.
AP US History provides an accelerated and detailed study of the American Republic from 1491 to the present. The course focuses on research, critical reading and writing, and analysis of primary historical sources. Students enrolled in the course are required to sit for the College Board Advanced Placement examination in American History in May. A satisfactory score on this examination may lead to college credit for the course.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: III
Open to Grades: 11
Prerequisite: Final grade of 87 in Honors US History I or 97 in US History I.
The AP course in U.S. Government and Politics expands students’ understanding of America’s government and current domestic and foreign policy agendas. AP Government also looks at hot topics such as free speech, assembly, religion, and the death penalty as well as current elections. The course requires familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute US politics. Topics include the Constitutional underpinnings of the United States’ political beliefs and behaviors; political parties; interest groups; mass media; institutions of national government; public policy; and civil rights and civil liberties. Prerequisites for admission include 1) a brief persuasive essay that includes the student’s motivations for selecting this course; and 2) a contract, signed by both the student and parent, acknowledging that summer course work and a community service project are mandatory for passing the course. The student must take the AP U.S. Government examination in May. A satisfactory score on this examination may lead to college credit for the course.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: III
Open to Grades: 11,12
Prerequisite: Final grade of an 83 in AP US History, or an 87 in Honors US History I, or a 97 in US History II.
AP Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to the rich diversity of political life outside the United States. The course uses a comparative approach to examine the political structures and policies, and the political, economic, and social cultures of six selected countries: Great Britain, Mexico, Russia, Iran, China, and Nigeria. Additionally, students examine how different governments solve similar problems by comparing the effectiveness of approaches to many global issues. Students must take the AP Comparative Government examination in May. A satisfactory score on this examination may lead to college credit for the course.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: III
Open to Grades: 11,12
Final grade of 83 in any AP Social Studies course, or an 87 in any Honors Social Studies course, or a 97 in US History I and II, or US Government.
The AP course in psychology introduces the systematic and scientific study of human and animal behavior and mental processes. Topics include the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of psychology’s major subfields and the ethics and methods used by psychologists in science and practice. Students enrolled in the course are required to sit for the College Board Advanced Placement examination in Psychology in May. A satisfactory score on this examination may lead to college credit for the course.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: III
Open to Grades: 11, 12
Prerequisite: Final grade of 83 in any AP Social Studies course, a final grade of 87 in Honors US History II, or a final grade of 97 in US History II or Sociology & Psychology.
AP Human Geography introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and means that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of the earth’s surface. Students will employ spatial concepts and use maps to define regions and interpret the connectedness of places. This course emphasizes cooperative learning by employing geographers’ methods and tools. Students enrolled in the course are required to sit for the College Board Advanced Placement examination in Human Geography at the end of the school year. A satisfactory score on this examination may lead to college credit for the course.
 
Credit: 5
Quality Point Group: III
Open to Grades: 10, 11
Prerequisite: Incoming 10th graders: an 83 in AP World History, or an 87 in Honors World Cultures, or a 97 in World Cultures. Incoming 11th graders: an 83 in any AP Social Studies course; or an 87 in Honors US History I or II, or an 87 in Honors World Cultures.