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History and Social Sciences

The History Department strives to develop a student’s intellectual capacities and acquisition of material knowledge in preparation for a lifetime of learning and engagement as active citizens in today’s world. The history and social sciences curriculum is designed to awaken a student’s interest in what has happened in the past and how previous events shape and shed light on current events. Insights are sought by investigating specific events as well as broad trends. Courses focus on the order of historical events as well as the major social, cultural, economic, and political themes. History is examined by analyzing both primary and secondary sources as well as questioning the reliability of the historical record itself. Students are exposed to the past through historical text and other materials such as maps, photographs, films, and biographies. A variety of classroom activities brings alive controversies from the past and provides insight into critical issues of the present.


Three full years in history are required for graduation. The department has divided its courses into two parts. Part 1 includes three required core courses: World History I in Class 9, World History II in Class 10, and United States History in Class 11. Part 2 offers electives in Class 12 for those students who wish to pursue more specialized fields of study after the core courses have been completed.
Advanced Placement sections are offered to qualified students in Classes 9 through 12. Placement in an Advanced Placement section requires special permission. Only those students who have demonstrated commitment to excellence in history and the social sciences will be allowed to participate in the AP program. In order to be qualified for an Honors or AP course, a student must have earned a year-end grade of A- or higher for the prerequisite (B in a previous AP History course) and must have permission of the Head of the History Department and Head of the Upper School.

Development of Skills

As students progress through Part 1, they are introduced to social studies skills by using maps, charts, graphs, pictures, and primary source documents. Instruction focuses on analyzing these sources, synthesizing information, comparing viewpoints, critical thinking, and formulating logical arguments in support of a thesis. Students develop skills in historical writing through note-taking, regularly scheduled assessments, written assignments, and essays. Classes take the form of lectures, open-ended discussions, or quick response question-answer periods. It is expected that every student will participate fully in class discussions. 


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