The mission of the History Department is to provide our students with the necessary basic skills and knowledge to become good citizens and to be successful in college.
Our overall objective is to improve our students’ reading, writing, and thinking skills as they study the major historical figures, events, and ideas, which have influenced our world.
History Department Courses
- Geography & Global Studies I
- Geography & Global Studies II
- World History I
- World History II
- US History I
- US History II
- Topics in African American History
- The Humanities Seminar
- Criminal Justice
- Race Matters
- Crossroads of the Revolution
- The Documentary Film
An introduction to the subject of world geography and cultures, focusing on the United States, South & Central America and Europe. Students will take an in depth look at the natural planet that has sustained all of human experience. Through the exploration of various factors of human-environment interaction students will gain better understanding of how the Earth has shaped human cultures and how humans have impacted the Earth. We will study political, topographical and economic maps to identify major patterns of human development throughout prehistory and history. The course also will emphasize the development of good study habits and learning skills.
A further examination of topics in world geography and cultures, reviewing key areas studied in GGSI and moving on to a study of Asia and Africa. Students will take an in depth look at the natural planet that has sustained all of human experience. Through the exploration of various factors of human-environment interaction students will gain better understanding of how the Earth has shaped human cultures and how humans have impacted the Earth. We will study political, topographical and economic maps to identify major patterns of human development throughout prehistory and history. The course reemphasizes as well the acquisition of study skills.
World History I, required of all 9th grade students, is the study of the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean world, which include: Southwest Asia, ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages. These civilizations will serve as specimens for the analysis of various topics in history, which include cultural diffusion, continuity and change, the impact of ideas and technology in history. This course will give the characters encountered in the student's English course a face and background based in factual history. The course will also look at the historical repetition with an eye toward contemporary events in both World and American history. In addition to the text there will be handouts, films, Internet activities, group work and a research project.
World History II, required of all 10th grade students, is a survey of approximately 500 years of world history, focusing upon key developments in European history but also touching upon Asia and Africa-which combine to create the modern world. The "modern world" here refers to the world of the 20th century as Americans came to know it. That world, for all the cultural diversity which remained, grew increasingly unified, global, in its "modern" features. The argument of this course is that this modern world was created in a series of revolutionary developments which began in Europe at the close of its medieval period of history but which, over the course of the next several centuries, spread throughout the world. While the course thus does focus (unlike World History 1) primarily on the European background of American history, the argument is made that it is also significantly the background for much of the global history of the twentieth century (consider the impact of industrialization, capitalism, the division and multiplication of Christian denominations-to name only a few major influences which began in Europe but subsequently spread throughout the world).
U.S. History I, required of all 11th grade students, examines key developments in American history from the founding of the colonies through the period of Civil War and Reconstruction. The course concentrates on the emergence of colonial America leading to the Revolution, (2) the establishment of a new nation & government in the Early National Period, (3) the growth and westward expansion of the nation and (4) the growing sectional conflict leading to the Civil War and Reconstruction.
U.S. History II, required of all seniors, examines key developments in American history after the Civil War & Reconstruction era. The course concentrates on (1) the economic, social and political changes wrought by industrialization during the second half of the 19th century, (2) the response to industrialization in the Populist and Progressive reform movements, (3) the emergence of the United States as a world power (from the Spanish-American War through the Cold War) and (4) key domestic developments in the United States during the 20th century (Depression & New Deal and the Civil Rights movement).
This course will examine the nature of the American political and economic system in order to provide students with the essentials of active citizenship. The course combines an examination of American history, culture and government. It includes a study of the Constitution as well as influential historical writings and significant Supreme Court decisions. Together we will strive to understand what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.
This course examines, from numerous disciplinary perspectives, the experiences of people of African descent in Black Atlantic societies, including the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America. We will explore the innovative, complex and distinctively African American social structures and cultural traditions that African diaspora have created. Students will be exposed to the historical, cultural, political, economic and social development of people of African descent. The course spans four hundred years, from the initial settlement of the American continent by Europeans and the establishment of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and down through the present day. The PBS series, Africans in America: America's Journey through Slavery by Charles Johnson and Patricia Smith will be among the texts and videos used to detail the experience of a people who were brought involuntarily to this country and how they found the courage and creativity to establish an identity. They constructed their own unique rituals, traditions and symbols; a distinct spirituality, music, art, dance and folklore; a rich cultural heritage, kinship and community; and a complex body of political and social ideas about the contradictory nature of American democracy and the position of black people within it. In effect, black Americans made their own history, although not always in the manner in which they chose, because they were encumbered by the constraints of institutional racism and white privilege.
The economics elective helps students develop decision making skills, draw connections between their everyday life and the broader economic world and gain an understanding of macroeconomic and microeconomic topics. Students develop a set of tools which will help them make smart economic decisions. Concepts such as supply and demand, scarcity, opportunity cost, marginal analysis and many others will provide the groundwork for an analytical mind. Students also study economic systems, compete in a stock market game, study famous economists and develop a business plan.
(Prerequisite: A grade of no less than a B+ in English and history courses)
Students in this course will read and analyze key texts in American and English literature in their historical and cultural contexts. Texts are chosen for their significance in either influencing or representing important cultural issues (such as the influence of science and religion in America or the role of money and class in America). Among the works selected for 2009-2010 were R. L. Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Lawrence & Lee's Inherit the Wind, F. S. Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby; and J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye; these works are examined both as works of literature and as windows into the cultural issues. Their historical contexts are studied through a variety of selected supplementary readings, as well as through a careful screening and analysis of films which Hollywood has produced based upon them. Students compare and analyze both the written texts and the film versions made from them. There will be a strong emphasis on vocabulary building, since most of the works chosen utilize a vocabulary challenging even to our best students.
Criminal Justice is a formal response to crime by agents of the local, state and federal governments. This course will consist of an overview (both philosophical and historical) of the American criminal justice system. The role and interaction of various components of the system will be examined with a focus on the three major components of the criminal justice system; police, courts and corrections.
This course is intended to give you a broad knowledge base of contemporary racial issues. You will explore how your peers from different backgrounds may think, why they may think in such a way and you will also explore your own individual narrative. The ultimate goal of this course is to expose yourself to different narratives that your colleagues, peers and friends may have as you continue your life journey after high school. The ultimate goal of this course is to allow you to understand how your future peers may think towards and to understand where their and your train of thought comes from.
Known as the "Crossroads of the Revolution," New Jersey had more battles fought here than any other colony. How many know that NJ passed its first constitution even before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence? How many know that the first turning points of the war for independence occurred in Trenton and Princeton? The objective of this course is for students to get a better understanding of what truly happened in New Jersey during the American Revolution. We will look at topics such as major battles that took place, the social and economic conditions, geography, arts, literature, people and more. Students will leave this course with an appreciation for what New Jersey stood for during the fight for independence and why its location was so critical.
The documentary is a distinct film form. It differs from the fiction film in that its subject is true people and events. In this course, we will study the history of the documentary from the earliest days of film (the 1890's), paying attention to how the methods and techniques of documentary filmmakers have changed over time. We will view, discuss and write about a selection of documentary films, from Robert Flaherty's pioneering Nanook of the North to Nanette Burstein's recent American Teen. In particular, we will look at the transformation of the documentary film genre in the age of Reality TV and Youtube.