Social Studies

The Events that Shaped Civilizations

The social studies curriculum is an engaging integration of literature, history, geography, and cultural studies. These classes are taught by Humanities Department faculty who are experts in their subject areas.

Ninth graders begin with a cultural studies course that focuses on the geography, history, and belief cultures of the Pacific Rim. They take Idealism and Humanity, an exploration of the relationship between the individual and society. This unique course challenges students to reconcile differences of beliefs and values in the creation of their society. A survey course in Art History explores artistic expression by the earliest humans through the Baroque era.

Tenth graders study Ancient Civilizations, from the origins of human beings through some of the first great civilizations. In a Classical World block, students explore the essential characteristics of Greek civilization and the emergence of the individual in the West. A cultural studies blocks focuses on the African continent, its culture, history, politics, economics, and art. Finally, tenth graders take an extensive course in U.S. Government, focusing on the formation and structure of the constitutional republic.

Eleventh graders focus on U.S. History, developing skills in historical research and analysis. Students are immersed in two distinct cultural studies blocks, Latin America and the Arab World.

In twelfth grade, students continue their study of history with a course that follows a broad survey of Western architecture. In Economics, students explore the development of economic thinking from Adam Smith to the present. Seniors may elect to take as course in World Affairs, and all seniors end their academics curriculum with a class called Symtomatology. In this course, seniors explore societal conditions and reflect upon the way we live and think today.

9th Grade

Pacific Rim

Broad exploration of Pacific Rim experience. Geography, history, beliefs, cultures of countries such as China, Japan, and the islands of Hawaii. What are the particular qualities of the Pacific Ocean? What individual and common narratives (mythical and actual) has it spawned over time? What happened when East met West? Map-work, comparative readings and field studies, students seek to discover horizons of the Pacific Rim.


Revolutions is a study of the dynamics of social change. French Revolution as model; exploration of aspirations for equality and liberation held by young revolutionaries, journalists, politicians, and philosophers. Consideration of how events in France and Haiti informed beginnings of the modern era and precipitated trend towards globalization.

Art History

Broad survey course of Western art, beginning with early humans through Baroque era. Progression of human evolution through art.

Idealism and Humanity

In Idealism and Humanity, student teams collaborate to create their own society, accounting for economic, social, and political influences. 

10th Grade

Classical World

Classical World is an interdisciplinary experience of Ancient and Classical Greece, from the time of Homer to Alexander the Great. Thematically, a movement from Mystery (pre-Homer) to Mythology (Homer and Hesiod), to History (Herodotus and Thucydides), and finally to Philosophy (Plato and Aristotle).

US Government

In US Government, students explore philosophical and cultural roots, structure and purpose of our government, and how the processes of politics and government work. In-depth reading of US Constitution.

Cultural Studies: Africa

Culture, history, and literature of Africa. Focus on Algeria and Egypt in North Africa; Nigeria, Angola, the Congo, South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa.

11th Grade

US History & Debate

US History: Geography and early migration routes; Pre-Columbian European visitors and explorers; establishment of colonies; French and Indian Wars; American Revolution. Part II: Westward expansion; economic and social reforms; slavery and origins of Civil War through Reconstruction; Gilded Age; immigration; late 19th/early 20th Century imperialism. Skills in historical analysis and interpretation, research, oral expression and debate on chosen historical issue. Political history balanced with people's history -- including narratives of Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, women and immigrants.

History of Music

History of Music begins with exploration of the nature and formative quality of sound, sources and elements of music, and examples of world music and ancient musical theory. Development of consciousness explored from Medieval sacred chant/monody, to Renaissance forms of polyphony, to Baroque counterpoint complexity, to Classical balance and harmony, to Romantic individual/national expression, to Twentieth Century experimentation, ending with questions about the contemporary moment.

Latin America

Overview of Latin American culture, including history, demographics, culture. History of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and Europeans expansion. Examination of resulting structures of power, class and race; 19th and 20th Century revolutions, the birth of independent nations, the rise of capitalism, impact of military dictatorships. Exploration of diverse group of political figures, writers, artists and activists.

Arab World/Middle East

Exploration of the history, culture, politics, economics, and art of the Arab World and the Middle East. Culture, history, politics, economics, and art . Comparison of spiritual traditions. Case studies include Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

12th Grade

History of Architecture

History of Architecture is broad survey course, beginning with stone monuments of Neolithic Europe and ending with some great buildings of 20th Century architecture. Examination of how human beings create edifices to express their civic, spiritual, and personal aspirations; and how various aspects architecture reflect specific human impulses at certain times. Creation of an Architect's Journal of coursework.


Symptomatology is a phenomenological approach to an understanding of underlying conditions in world events, not only dis-eases of the times, but also defining characteristics. Students explore overarching view of history, the 'signs of the times,' and which social, cultural, economic, or political issues resonate with them. Work grounded on careful reading and discussion, including Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.


Economic survey from 19th Century beginning with Napoleon to the development of economic thinking of Adam Smith, to modern economics. Topics include imperialism, periods through the two World Wars and their impacts on the global economy. Exploration of current events; geophysical maps; modern economic history of a foreign nation. Readings from Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Heilbroner's The World Philosophers, and other selections.

Idealism & Humanity


In medicine, a symptom is any evidence which indicates the presence of illness or disease. When applied to the study of history, Symptomatology is an investigation of the underlying conditions in world events. Seniors, who are preparing to step out into the world on their own, take this integrated course taught by Dr. Joan Caldarera. They explore the cultural, economic, and political issues of the times; discuss texts, such as Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl; and work in service to the community.

(In 2016, Dr. Caldarera was named Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction by the National Society of High School Scholars.)