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
- The Cold War
- Criminal Justice
- Diversity and Social Justice
- Documentary Film
- Guns, Germs and Steel
- Human Geography
- Humanities Seminar
- The Holocaust
- Politics and Political Life
- Political Science: Ideas Towards Peace
- Topics in African American Studies
- US History I
- US History II
- World History I
- World History II
Civics is our study of citizenship and government. This semester course provides students with a basic understanding of civic life, politics, and government, and a short history of the US government’s foundation and development. Students learn how power and responsibility are shared and limited by the government, the impact American politics has on world affairs, the place of law in the American constitutional system, and which rights the American government guarantees its citizens. Students also will examine and prepare to pass the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Test.
The Cold War
In October 1962 the world held its collective breath as the young, charismatic and yet untried president John F. Kennedy stood toe to toe with the older, more sly, veteran Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in a thirteen day military standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. How did the world’s two superpowers at the time find themselves plunged into one of the most dangerous Cold War confrontations in history? This course examines the culture, politics, and events that ushered in the Cold War and the major personalities and ideologies that catapulted the world to the edge of nuclear disaster.
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.
Diversity and Social Justice
In this course we explore the ways in which prejudice and privilege impact the experiences of people of different social identities. Specifically, we look at the experiences of people based on race, socioeconomic status, gender, gender expression, sexuality, religion, and ability status. This course focuses on historical injustices, current lived experiences, and opportunities to bring about change.
Upon completion of this course, students will know how to objectively Observe, Think critically, and Question frequently.
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.
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.
Guns, Germs and Steel
Using the Pulitzer Prize winning text of the same name, this course will investigate human history and human ecology over the last several millennia. We will attempt to find out why history developed quite differently on various continents. Why did literate Eurasian societies expand and conquer the globe and not the peoples of Africa, South America, New Guinea, and elsewhere? Why, when contacted by European explorers, were aboriginal people in Australia and New Guinea still living in more primitive conditions? Working from the main thesis that it is the Earth's geography and resulting ecology that has had a fundamental influence on which human societies were able to develop to the industrial stage and conquer the world with guns, germs transported with them, and the steel of their inventions.
We will focus on the interactions among ancient and medieval civilizations in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe (Including Egypt, Sumeria, Babylonia, Greece, and Rome), South and East Asia (China and India) and in Meso & North America (Tribal Nations that include Coastal Woodland, Desert, Plains, Arctic, Mayans, Aztecs and Incas).
Three themes will be foremost. We will explore the relationship between humans and the environment. We will also discuss the role played by various forms of consciousness, including technology, warfare, science, philosophy, and religion, in creating the human world. Third, we will ask how is it that an integrated global community emerges towards the end of the period under study, and what is it that accounts for relations within that community?
Examining current global issues that impact our world today, this course takes a thematic approach to understanding the development of human systems, human understanding of the world, and human social organization. This high school-level course will challenge students to develop geographic skills, including learning to interpret maps, analyze data, and compare theories. Offering interactive content that will grow students’ understanding of the development of modern civilization and human systems—from the agricultural revolution to the technological revolution—this course encourages students to analyze economic trends as well as compare global markets and urban environments.
Students in this course will read and analyze various western philosophers in their historical and cultural contexts. Among the philosophers selected are Plato, St. Augustine, Hobbes, Locke, Marx, and Charles Taylor. The various works are studied to better understand the inherent philosophies, and to analyze their impact on western society. Students compare and analyze the various philosophers and try to connect them to modern American life.
This course will introduce the student to an introductory study of the Holocaust. By examining four major historical preconditions leading up to the Nazi party’s acquisition of power, namely anti-Semitism, Germany’s reaction to defeat in the Napoleonic Wars and subsequent Enlightenment ideas, the Treaty of Versailles and Germany’s post-WWI economy, and Eugenics and Social Darwinism, the student will discover and experience the causes, events, ideologies and processes as well as the major personalities that made the Holocaust possible. Emphasis will be given to the inter-relationships between the perpetrators, victims and those who stood by and did nothing. Further emphasis will be placed on European geography, the chronological order of events and important dates in history. Through the examination of these historical preconditions and the escalating power, hatred and violence that followed, the student will better understand the context in which the Holocaust must be understood as well as gain a clearer understanding as to how and why it could have happened at all.
Politics and Political Life
This course has several functions. It is designed to introduce students to important political concepts and issues and introduce students to the basics of political inquiry. We will pose problems that we face living with this world. Problem posing will enable us to understand our situations better.
Part of this course is the idea that learning is a dialogical act. I do not know everything, nor do you. But through communication, reflection on our existence, and relating to the material from our experiences, we can understand our situations and move forward. Let’s name the world. We use literature, news articles, scholarly works, podcasts, music, and films to explore important political concepts and issues and think about what it means to live in a society that is by its very nature political. At the core of this class is an opportunity to examine your beliefs and, most importantly, how you came to hold them; it is the opportunity to understand your political socialization and how it works. This course is a chance to engage in civil discourse, build empathy, compassion, and develop our community.
Political Science: Ideas Towards Peace
This class strives to apply a foundational understanding of political institutions in our society with solution-based thinking towards some of our world's most pressing issues. The course will examine issues at the international and national level through lecture, literature, and dialogue. Through these collaborative activities, each student will be able to critically analyze the inner workings of politics in our everyday lives, and endeavor to better understand how we can all create a more ideal and peaceful future. Topics will include (but not limited to); power, fascism, oppression, race, gender, globalism, democracy, and elections.
Topics in African American Studies
This course will examine, from numerous disciplinary perspectives, the experiences of people of African descent in global societies, including the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Indonesia and Australia. The course will explore the innovative, complex, and distinctively African global social structures and cultural traditions that Africans in the Diasporas have created. Students will discuss the historical, cultural, political, economic, and social development of people of the human family.
Among the topics will include identifying what racism and white supremacy is, asking why have the positive contributions of African people have been lost, stolen or strayed from history, find solutions to the many ills of racism and white supremacy.
Texts will include: "Brainwashed" by Thomas Burrell, "The Miseducation of the Negro" by Carter G. Woodson, "A Black History Reader" by Dr. Claud Anderson as well as works by Ivan Van Sertima, Joy DeGruy, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Jane Elliott, Tim Wise, Frances Cress Welsing, Jared Diamond, William Grier, Price Cobbs, Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Peggy McIntosh, Jawanza Kunjufu, Josef Ben Yochanan, John Henrik Clarke, and others.
US History I
This course will provide the student with an introductory study of US History from the period of Colonization to the American Revolution. Through the study of the country’s native populations, European colonization, the struggle for independence, the establishment of government, wars and conflicts, the student will discover and experience the art, cultures, religions, forms of governments, system of economics, causes of wars and division, and the major personalities associated with the birth of the United States. Emphasis will be given to the cultural interaction of nations and how people of the time thought of themselves and the world around them through the exploration of both primary and secondary source documents designed to promote critical thinking skills. Further emphasis will be placed on the study of geography, maps, charts and graphs, timelines and political cartoons as well as developing reading and writing skills.
US History II
US History II looks at American history from the Constitution to the 1960s. The emphasis is on understanding: 1). the US Constitution and the structure of the US government. 2). the long term impact of slavery on the American society 3). how change occurs in the country through the eyes of the Progressive Movement 4). the impact of the Civil Rights Movement. Students focus on trying to connect history to current events.
World History I
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
This course is a continuation from World History I and will pick up with societies and empires in Africa and the Americas, the Reformation and Renaissance, followed by European interaction with Asia, Africa, and the Americas, Imperialism and its effects around the world and causes and impact World War I. We will look at how societies and empires interacted through trade, religion, ideas, technology and war, which helped shape the modern world as we know today. Each section looks at the geography of each continent, the countries in them and geographic landforms within. We will take a look at the impact of major wars and battles throughout this time period and examine how the outcome affected future leaders, events and decision making. Finally, we will also look at how past events are repeated today and how current events are similar to the past.