The history curriculum presents a challenging, developmentally appropriate course of study for students in grades five through twelve. The program provides a solid foundation in history as well as the rest of the humanities. Students study geography, investigate the complexity of human society through an analysis of culture, and come to an understanding of diverse political and economic systems. The program develops an appreciation of the interrelatedness of peoples and nations and challenges them to prepare for involvement as active and compassionate members of a democratic society.
Sequential skill building is a prime focus throughout the Middle and Upper School years. At each grade level, history and English faculty collaborate to reinforce and coordinate approaches to reading, writing, research, and analysis. Honors and Advanced Placement level courses are offered in Grades 10, 11, and 12.
- History 5: Early America
- History 6: The Eastern Hemisphere
- History 7: The Western Hemisphere
- History 8: American History
An exploration of early American history, this course challenges students to engage with such themes as religion, political systems, art, culture, and women’s roles in society. The class first explores these thematic threads in a unit on the Indigenous Peoples of eastern North America, particularly New England. Building on this foundation, students learn about English colonial settlements and the development of distinct regional variations in the treatment of religion, agriculture, politics, and slavery. In the second semester, the course encourages students to examine the causes of the American Revolution before turning to the creation of the Constitution and the new Republic. Given the importance of our region to the early history of the United States, this class will emphasize events, ideas, and people from New England. To facilitate the development of students’ skills, including techniques of critical reading, the process of historical inquiry, and the fundamentals of historical writing, classes will be devoted to small group and class discussions, individual and group projects, role-playing activities, analytical essays, and field trips.
Students study the history, geography, and culture of various regions in the Eastern Hemisphere, with a particular emphasis on the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The course is built around historical case studies set in Afghanistan, the Sudan, and India that provide the context for age-appropriate discussion of periods of conflict and recovery. Girls master the geography of each region and become attuned to the impact of geography and resources on culture. Class time is devoted to map work and geography skills, discussion, small-group activities, mini-lectures, visual literacy, research, and individual and group projects. History 6 invites students to examine connections between the past and the present, to discuss global issues and current events, and to participate in the National Geography Bee.
History 7 is a geographical and historical introduction to the Western Hemisphere. Through their study of North America, South America, and the Caribbean islands, girls learn about the history of human interaction with the natural environment. Students spend significant time studying pre-Columbian societies of the Americas, including the Maya, the Inca, the Taino, and dozens of indigenous North American tribes. They debate the role of Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors and explore current issues in the Americas such as land use conflict in the Amazon Rain Forest and environmental challenges in the Great Lakes as they seek to understand how the geography and history of each region shape the lives of people today. Students continue to develop important skills, such as close reading and critical thinking, analysis of both visual and textual primary sources, note-taking, and historical research. They apply these skills as they compose position papers and as they construct resource maps, cause and effect charts and annotated timelines to maximize their historical understanding.
Beginning with the Colonial Era and moving chronologically through Reconstruction, this course highlights major events, individuals, social movements, and legislation in the history of the United States. An extensive unit on the writing and ratification of the Constitution provides students with essential knowledge of American civics and, as the course progresses, enables them to analyze the extent to which America has lived up to the ideals upon which it was founded. The course provides students with the knowledge and analytical skills necessary to understand and examine current events in a historical context. To this end, the course emphasizes primary document analysis, research strategies, expository writing, geographical knowledge, recognition of cause-effect relationships, and oral presentation skills. A class trip to Washington, D.C. allows girls to apply what they have learned while exploring historical sites in our nation's capital.
- History 9: World History I
- History 10: World History II
- Honors History 10: Global Studies
- Advanced Placement European History
- History 11: United States History
- Advanced Placement United States History
- Honors History 11: Honors United States History
- Advanced Placement Art History
- Advanced Placement Comparative Government and Politics
- Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics
In this course, which covers the period from the French Revolution to the present, students explore the impact of trade, technology, political philosophies, conquest, culture, and war on human societies. Students study major topics in global history, including: revolutions on both sides of the Atlantic (French, Haitian, Latin American, etc.); imperialism and resistance in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, China, and Japan; World Wars I and II; post-colonialism and the Cold War; and the contemporary world. During the year, students research a theme, event, or figure of historical significance, which culminates in an analytical essay. Through close reading of primary and secondary documents, students are introduced to the principles of historiography as they construct their own historical arguments.
Through this interdisciplinary approach to the humanities, students enrich their understanding of global cultures by combining surveys of modern history and global literature from 1789 to the present. To this end, students study major topics in world history, including revolutions on both sides of the Atlantic (French, Haitian, Latin American, etc.); imperialism and resistance in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, China, and Japan; World Wars I and II; post-colonialism and the Cold War; and the contemporary world. In parallel, Honors Global Studies exposes students to the scope of literary development, including significant texts from the late Enlightenment, Romantic, Modern, Postmodern, and contemporary periods. With particular emphasis on non-European voices, the course hones students’ critical reading and analytical skills by including a variety of literary genres, such as short novels, poems, short stories, plays, and nonfiction pieces, along with supplemental sources in art, music, and material culture. Additionally, through close reading of primary and secondary documents, students are introduced to the principles of historiography as they construct their own historical arguments. By simultaneously contextualizing literary works with relevant historical background and enriching students’ experience of historical events through a literary lens, Honors Global Studies provides a rich understanding of global cultures from the late eighteenth century to the present.
Note: Students who sign-up for Honors Global Studies to fulfill their History 10 requirement must also sign-up for Honors Global Studies to fulfill their English 10 requirement. They are companion courses.
Covering the period from 1450 to the present, this course is a survey of modern European history and prepares students to take the AP European History exam. Although it emphasizes political ideas and institutions, the course also devotes considerable attention to the social, economic, cultural, and intellectual aspects of European history. Among the topics studied are: the religious, intellectual, and political factors that weakened the unifying forces of medieval civilization; the struggle for mastery in Europe; the development of representative forms of government in the West (especially in England and France) and authoritarian rule in the East (in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia); challenges to conventional notions of truth and authority during the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment; the rise and decline of empire, focusing on the experiences of Spain, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, Germany, and Britain; the growth of the nation-state in Europe; the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of new forms of economic and political organization; and the ideological conflicts of the twentieth century, focusing in particular on fascism, communism, and democracy.
Covering the period from the early 17th century to the present, this course is a survey of United States and prepares students to take the AP United States History exam. Among the principal topics covered are the peopling of North America; the effects of English settlement and expansion on Native American civilization; the establishment of political institutions; the varieties and significance of American religious experience; the impact of the Industrial Revolution on American politics and society; westward expansion and the American Dream; the experience of slavery and its legacies; the evolving roles of women in American life; social movements and reform traditions; the changing role of government in the lives of American citizens; and the growth of American power in the international arena.
Covering the period from 30,000 B.C.E. to the present day, this course thoroughly prepares students for the Advanced Placement Exam in Art History. Rooted in visual, contextual, and comparative analysis, the AP Art History curriculum deepens students' understanding of works of art within their historical contexts by examining issues of politics, class, religion, patronage, audience, gender, function, and ethnicity. Through investigation of diverse artistic traditions from prehistory to the present, the course fosters an in-depth and holistic understanding of the history of art from a global perspective by analyzing works from 10 content areas: Global Prehistory; Ancient Mediterranean; Early Europe and Colonial Americas; Late Europe and Americas; Indigenous Americas; Africa; West and Central Asia; South, East, and Southeast Asia; The Pacific; and Global Contemporary.
In preparation for the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam, this course introduces students to the discipline of comparative politics through the examination of the governments in six case-study countries: Mexico, Great Britain, Russia, China, Iran, and Nigeria. The course exposes students to the contemporary political situations in key news-making countries around the world. By examining significant turning points and persistent challenges, students learn about the evolution of each country's political system, political culture, and economy. Because the class includes significant emphasis on coverage of these countries in both domestic and international newspapers, students become more savvy consumers of media. Regular video and multimedia components bring political themes and characters to life as students navigate their way through the often turbulent and always exciting subject of contemporary politics.
By inculcating in students the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary for a critical understanding of American government and politics, this course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement exam in U.S. Government and Politics. Students study the founding, structure, and operation of American national government; the government's constitutional basis and its major institutions, such as Congress, the presidency, executive agencies, and the courts; the role of political parties, elections, interest groups, public opinion, and the media; the relationship of government to the American economy and culture; and the ways in which the political dynamics of the policy-making process vary from one area of public policy to another. The overall goal of the course is to prepare students to be informed and critical observers of past and contemporary developments in government and politics.