Global History and Social Studies

What is History? How does History help us understand today’s world? Whose History are we studying? The Global History and Social Studies curriculum provides students with the opportunity to learn about History from global perspectives, looking at, analyzing, and thinking critically about primary and non-U.S. sources. The global dimension of the curriculum demonstrates the wide variety of themes students will deal with in each course. The Global History and Social Studies student is a critical thinker with an awareness and understanding of religious, political, social and economic issues. Differentiation and the use of technology are also important parts of the curriculum.

In grade 10 through 12, students may elect to take their history course at the honors level by signing a contract. Honors students are expected to be leaders in class discussions, to maintain a high level of enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity, and to demonstrate a superior level of critical analysis in all written work and on honors-specific prompts on assessments. Earning Honors credit requires that after electing Honors and signing the contract, that the student continues to live up to these expectations.

Global History I: U.S. History

Nation and Nationalism (Required)

If you could build your own nation, what would it be like? In this class, you will have the opportunity to understand how nations are built, how they expand, and how national identity is shaped and cemented through culture, politics, and conflict. You will also evaluate the goals of the U.S. as a new nation and examine how citizens have shaped its course toward these goals since its founding amidst ever-evolving global challenges and opportunities.

For the second term of Global History I students choose of the following options:

The Age of Reforms

From Thomas Paine to Sojourner Truth, and from the women’s rights movement of the early 19th century through the Progressive Era and the women’s suffrage movement, this course examines the root causes of the political, social, economic, and cultural reform movements that have existed in the United States. How successful were those reformers, and how did some of their objectives become part of mainstream political discourse? Using multiple perspectives and sources, you will learn about the people and movements that helped shape the United States and then assess the effectiveness of those movements.

Of the people, By the people, For the people

Is democracy the best form of government? What is “democracy,” anyhow? Can a true democracy adequately respond to the will of the majority while protecting the rights and interests of all citizens? Who holds the power in a democracy? This course will examine the U.S. political system, its development, its impact on society, and its influence around the world. You will also compare American democracy with other forms of government around the world and consider both its strengths and the challenges it faces in an increasingly complex global context.

Global History II: US and World History

From Power to Superpower (Required)

From Westward Expansion to the “War on Terror,” this course will explore the evolution of the U.S. as a global superpower, its territorial expansion, its foreign policy and involvement in different wars and conflicts. You will examine how governments garner popular support for military and humanitarian interventions abroad and how the outcomes of these actions have affected and been affected by political decision-making and geopolitical interests.

For the second term of Global History II student choose one of the following courses:

A Time for Change

From the advent of modern steel-making and new forms of communication like the telegraph to the election of the first African American president, you will explore change and evolution in politics (role of government, gender, race), culture (music and art), and technology and examine how the U.S. developed as the nation it is today. This course is a bird’s eye view of major political, cultural, social, scientific, and technological changes that have affected the nation and the world at large.

Economic Powerhouse

With its national debt rising relative to its increasing productivity, the United States has recently been supplanted by China as the world’s largest economy. What has been the impact of the U.S. economy and its deficit on American society in terms of both growing prosperity and economic inequality? What is its role in a globalized world? How have economic interests and institutions shaped and influenced American political decision-making? You will examine the structures of the U.S. economy, their domestic and global effects, and how the U.S. became an economic powerhouse.

Global History III: World History

Empires – Rise and Fall (Required)

What is an empire? Is there more to imperialism than simple colonialism? What drawbacks and benefits do imperial systems offer both their creators and their subjects? What types of imperialism are there? Can empires be created and sustained without war? In this class, you will embark upon a journey through time to examine the legacy of empires: how they build and maintain economic, cultural, and political hegemony as well as why and how they fail.

For the second term of Global History III student choose one of the following courses:

Revolutionary Times

What is the reason behind major ideological and cultural revolutions? In this course, you will explore some of the most revolutionary events and ideas of their time, from the Renaissance and the Reformation to Darwinism, and from the French Revolution to the Arab Spring. You will analyze how people’s ideas and actions have transformed society, sometimes unintentionally, and the long-lasting global impact of these transformations. You will discuss the role of those revolutionary ideas and actions in provoking political change. You will compare and contrast their philosophical origins and political legacies and assess their achievements against their goals.

The Majority World

What are majority world countries? What is their role in a globalized world? What are their strengths and challenges? Are majority world countries a monolithic bloc? From South Africa to China, and from Brazil to India, you will explore the political, economic, and cultural emergence of majority world countries, from their fight for independence to their new status in the 21st century. You will learn about the evolution of what used to be called “third world countries”, their relations with western nations and former colonizing powers, and assess their achievements on the global arena.

Global History: Advanced Honors - Independent Research

An intensive, inquiry-based course that will require students to pursue an advanced independent course of research on a topic of their choice. Students in this small section will be expected to work through a number of multi-step research assignments that will include producing research based papers, research based presentations, and participate in a number of research challenges and research projects.  This course is designed to hone the research skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, analysis, and dissemination and is designed for the student who is interested in possibly pursuing advanced humanities research in college.

Limit per class: 12 students.

Global History: Artists' Response to Social Change

Throughout history, artists have responded to social change through various modes of expression. The impact of the artist’s voice in interpreting society has often played a critical role in documenting historical events and shaping the future. This course will examine different socio-political changes through the lens of artists and artistic movements. Students will discuss the power of these artists’ work, their messages, and the movements they’ve sparked. Art’s role as a political tool will also be explored.

Global History: Ideologies

Why do people follow a given ideology and/or its leaders? How are movements shaped and manipulated by leaders and doctrines? Students will examine the nuances of Capitalism, Marxism, Socialism, Fascism, Totalitarianism, and other competing and often conflicting belief systems. Students will interpret these ideas from economic, political, and philosophical perspectives. Through this lens, students will confront global contemporary issues and challenges associated with these ideologies.

Global History: Illusions and Delusions - the 20th Century

How have ideas of the 20th century revolutionized humanity? This class will examine different theories and innovations that influenced and shaped the 20th century in science, technology, culture and literature, and politics. How have ideas with seemingly positive implications led to negative consequences? In order to make sense of today’s cultural, political, and economic environment, this class will explore how 20th century ideas set the stage for our current times.

Global History: Race, Class, and Identity

How have we been socialized to perpetuate stereotypes and biases toward groups of people? How do gender and identity intersect with race and class? Students will examine the work of some of the most important thinkers on race, class consciousness, and identity. Students will be encouraged to engage in authentic, personal discussions and to connect their experiences to other global voices.

Global History: The Media and Its Influences

From the printing press to widespread use of social media, the creation of news content has been defined and redefined by the technology of its historical time. Using today’s media landscape, students will examine what qualifies as news, what ethical questions are presented in journalism, and how we are impacted today by those that craft, manipulate, and distribute the message. Students will use different media tools and platforms to question, challenge, and deconstruct media messages and their biases. Students will become better equipped to read the world and understand the news.

Global History: The New Superpower?

Is China to replace the U.S. as the new world superpower? In this course, you will explore China’s emergence on the global arena through its diplomacy, foreign and economic policies and relationships with other nations. From the Opium Wars to President Xi’s 2017 speech regarding the global economy, a central theme of this course will examine China’s perspective on the world and the opportunities and challenges economic globalization brings to its population in the 21st Century.

Global History: Theories of Justice

If you have worked really hard and have earned high grades, do you deserve to get into the college of your choice? Is it fair if you don’t? Can money buy everything? Looking at different philosophical ideas, students will engage in discussions and debates to challenge some of their perspectives on fairness and the right thing to do. Students will be encouraged to apply their philosophical approaches to authentic situations.

Independent Study

Students have the opportunity to explore English, History, Mathematics, Science, Language, or Arts topics of interest under the supervision of a member of the appropriate department. After designing a project with a faculty member, the student presents a formal proposal to the Department Heads for approval. (An Independent Study may not duplicate the content of another course already being offered by the department because of schedule conflicts.) The student works in his or her own time and meets with the specified department member during one scheduled period per week for discussions and planning. Application forms are available from the Upper School Director. Proposals must have been submitted by the regular course selection dates.