In our history classrooms, students and faculty explore and challenge ideas together, building on the foundational Quaker belief in continuing revelation. Examining differences and empathizing with multiple perspectives are central to this process. We endeavor to help students make meaning out of a variety of sources through thoughtful questioning, close reading, analysis, and research. Students and faculty practice communicating ideas with clear, direct expression supported by evidence. Creating historical consciousness—the consciousness that people in the past had different values, assumptions and worldviews from people in the present—is foundational to our work together. Our hope is to gain a deeper sense of our own identities, develop moral understanding, and foster engaged citizenship that will contribute positively to the world.
HIS310 Comparative Cultures
required major | grade: 9
Students of Comparative Cultures will gain background knowledge in three cultural areas: China, Ghana, and Mexico. They will be encouraged to appreciate cultures other than their own and to discern those qualities that are universal and those that are unique. An examination of value systems, government legitimacy, political and social movements, and problems of modern nation building will help them to apply their background knowledge to current events. Students will also gain experience in analytical thinking and the organization of large quantities of material through writing short essays, essay tests, and one long-term research paper. Emphasis will be placed on learning to support generalizations with solid evidence and verifying sources. One quarter-long unit will be devoted to guiding each student through a step-by-step process of research that begins with crafting a question on a topic of their choice and ends with writing a sound research paper.
HIS420 Ancient and Medieval Civilizations
required major | grade: 10
The course examines the evolution of the civilizations of the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin, from their origins in the ancient world. The analysis of how societies and civilizations function is a key component of the course. The course also includes discussion of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and topics of student interest from the ancient and medieval time periods.
Emphasis will be placed on writing and on analyzing evidence to support historical claims. To that end, students’ intellectual skills will be honed by the critical reading of primary and secondary sources, the development of historical imagination, and the construction of well-reasoned arguments both on paper and in classroom discussion. Students will spend one 5-week unit writing a sound research paper on a topic of their choice.
HIS410 Latin History
required major for students concurrently enrolled in Latin III (History) | grade: 10
co-requisite: Latin III (History)
By combining the study of history and third-year Latin, this course affords students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in interdisciplinary study. The centerpiece of the course concerns the immediate events that brought the Roman Republic to an end. By reading Caesar’s account of the Civil War (De bello civili) and Cicero’s letters describing the same events, students become intimately familiar with the only primary documents that have survived from this time—documents which every historian of this period must rely upon and know. The reasons for the Republic’s demise are set within the overall trajectory of Roman history, beginning with the pre-monarchic period. However, students spend most of the year studying the rise of the Roman Republic, its constitution and the ethos of its ruling class.
HIS610 United States History: Advanced
required major | grade: 11, 12
United States History is a survey course that examines the development of the United States as a cultural, political and economic entity from its 17th-century European and African antecedents to the recent past. Heavy emphasis is placed on primary sources through numerous documents and images collated by the faculty. Students are also given recent books by historians, which change from year to year, together with selected scholarly articles. Students are required to express their understanding through a combination of intensive class work, papers, tests, debates, presentations, and simulations.
major elective | grade: 11, 12
Students electing to pursue these electives may select either a yearlong course or two semester-long courses. For the latter option, students must select both a fall and a spring course to create a yearlong history major that allows them to delve into two different areas of interest for one semester each.
HIS490 Applied Economics
This course utilizes the principles of design thinking to identify a real-world problem and produce a solution. That solution will serve as the underpinning of a company that students will run in a virtual economy with over five hundred schools from around the country and thousands more internationally. Students will compete in a simulated global economy, using the Virtual Enterprise International global business simulation; this offers students a competitive edge through project-based, collaborative learning and the development of 21st-century skills in entrepreneurship, global business, problem-solving, communication, personal finance, and technology to explore macroeconomic concepts. In addition to running a virtual business, students will compete individually and in teams in monthly national challenges focused on the following areas: elevator pitch, branding, newsletter, website, regional and national business plans. Students interested in adding to their portfolio in the following areas should consider this course: leadership, graphic design, web design, branding, marketing, social media, accounting, finance, human resources, negotiating contracts, and competition.
FALL SEMESTER ELECTIVES
HIS461 The Making of the Modern World: Advanced
The “Age of Reason” spans the era from the Reformation and Scientific Revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries to the Enlightenment of the 18th century. The changes brought about during this “early modern” period shaped the mindset of the modern age from the American and French Revolutions to the present. In this course, we will study the events and ideas that have contributed to our current world, focusing on the political, social, and intellectual developments that have formed the basis for democratic societies.
HIS431 United States Government & Civics: Advanced
This course will cover the structure and operation of the modern United States government. It will be rooted in the United States Constitution and the three branches of government described therein but will extend far beyond that. Topics may include an investigation of when the president is permitted to act without the direct consent of Congress, how courts should interpret the Constitution, the power of the two-party system, how committees work within Congress, whether lobbying is problematic or beneficial for our system, campaign strategies, federal civil rights including those included in the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment, the strengths and limitations of democracy, and how citizens can effect change.
HIS451 War and Peace: The Modern Middle East: Advanced
This course will examine the conflicts and politics of the Middle East in the 20th- and 21st-centuries. Our studies will include the history and geography of the region, focusing on the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the mandate system, and the lead-up to the UN partition of Israel and Palestine. Students will grapple with multiple perspectives in that complex conflict, as well as others, and examine peace negotiations. The ongoing conflict in Syria will also be studied, as well as other case studies based on student interest and current events. The course will prioritize analyzing the causes and effects of current challenges, understanding the perspectives of diverse stakeholders, and considering possible local and international solutions. US involvement in Middle East conflicts in recent decades, with an eye towards the US government’s strategy, may also be discussed.
SPRING SEMESTER ELECTIVES
HIS462 Modern U.S. Political Ideologies and Issues: Advanced
Why are conservatives such jerks? Why are liberals so clueless? We live in a culture that encourages us to demonize those who vote for the other political party. This class seeks to overcome that divide by discovering how kind, thoughtful people can come to drastically different conclusions about what is best for the country. After spending half of the semester seeking to uncover the core values of conservatives and liberals, the course turns to careful analyses of modern issues that divide the American electorate, such as immigration, health care, and inequality. The final project requires groups of students to research a modern issue of their choosing, find compelling arguments from the political left and right about how to solve that issue, and lead the class through a careful analysis of the arguments.
HIS441 The Patriot Woman: Advanced
What does it mean to be a patriot in the United States? What are the requirements and expectations of patriotism and how do these requirements and expectations change when the “patriot” in question identifies as a woman? This course will seek to answer these questions as we explore the unique experiences of women from all cultural backgrounds who engage in civic discourse and involve themselves in the public affairs of their communities. From politically active women in the pre-revolutionary period to women currently running for the highest elected office, we will examine the changing social contexts that have constrained women and the ways women have responded to, rebuked, and changed those norms.
HIS445 World Revolutions: Advanced
When does a protest turn into a rebellion? When does a rebellion turn into a revolution? People have long attempted to change their government employing different strategies and achieving varying degrees of success. In this course, students will first analyze various theories about how revolutions come about and factors that determine whether they succeed or fail. We will then engage in a comparative study of some of the most significant political revolutions in the past several centuries, including those in England, the United States, France, Haiti, Mexico, Russia, China, and Cuba. We will also investigate more contemporary revolutionary movements such as the “Velvet” Revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa. Finally, students will explore current geopolitical “hotspots” to look for indications of coming revolutions. ¡Viva la revolución!