The Social Studies and Social Sciences Department incorporates many disciplines—history, current affairs, geography, political science, economics, psychology—and we recognize our responsibility to make of our students a community of learners within these disciplines. Through these disciplines, our goal is to educate our students not only to be good citizens in the nation and the world, but also to enhance their knowledge of and commitment to Judaism. To these ends, we seek to foster an understanding of government, how it works, how one participates in that government, and how one can bring about a better world by using that knowledge. We also seek to familiarize our students with our own economic system and other economic systems that have been employed by other societies. Students should appreciate the legacy of Western civilization and its impact on American culture. They should be aware of different cultures within the U.S. and in the world at large. We hope to teach them openness to all peoples of the world through an understanding of other cultures and religions.
History classes generally involve developmental lessons, which begin with a stated topic or aim. They are based on homework assignments given the previous day so that students have the information they need to make the required inferences, generalizations, and conclusions. Other homework assignments involve review of current events, construction and interpretation of maps, charts, graphs, and other visual materials, mini-research projects, and larger research papers. Homework assignments are checked in various ways: class discussion, collection and grading, and peer review. They are always integrated into the current lesson.
All students at the school take a minimum of four years of history and social sciences. We want to graduate students who are informed about the world in which they live, so that they can make wise choices in their political, economic, and social arenas.
101 Global Studies
All ninth grade students are required to complete this course. It covers the political, economic, and social developments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The students will study ancient civilizations, imperialism, nationalism, independence movements, patterns of life, and challenges to development today. Students will read textbooks, original sources, charts, graphs, maps, cartoons, and newspaper and magazine articles in order to study this material. They will learn to take notes, evaluate current articles, draw and interpret maps. Students will become aware of other cultures and learn to avoid ethnocentric behavior. Students will begin to learn the techniques for researching specific topics.
201 European History
European history, required in the tenth grade, will focus on the development of the modern world as we know it. The students will study Greek and Roman civilizations, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. The course will also cover the growth of democracy, the Industrial Revolution, the rise of nationalism, imperialism, Communism, and World Wars I and II. The period of the Cold War will be studied as well as Europe today. Students will learn the rudiments of preparing a full historical research paper.
301 United States History
All eleventh grade students who do not take AP U.S. History are required to take this course. It covers the political, economic, and social conditions in the United States from the beginning of our history to present times. The Constitution and the historical setting in which it was written will be studied. Students will understand the great historical developments that led to the U.S. becoming the democratic super-power of the world today. They will read textbooks, original sources, and current affairs articles in order to learn how to draw conclusions and become informed citizens and voters
401a United States Government
All twelfth grade students must complete a course in United States Government. This is a one-term course designed to familiarize students with the workings of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government. The basic principles of our democracy—separation of powers, federalism and checks and balances will be explored. The Constitution and its Amendments will also be examined in order to understand the principle of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Economics is required in the spring semester of the twelfth grade. The course explores both microeconomics (laws of supply and demand and the resulting price structure) and macroeconomics (taxation, banking, measuring the economy, and the financial markets). Throughout the term, the course will examine the role played by the United States government in our free-enterprise system.
501 The World
The World is an elective course open to students in the eleventh grade. It covers twentieth century history. The emphasis of this course will be on the post-World War II period including: Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Students who have a genuine desire to investigate the progress and failings of human beings and nations will have an opportunity to understand the forces that influenced the modern world.
502 Great Moments in 20th Century U.S. History
This course focuses on events in U.S. History which were critical in the formation of both political and social national policy. Target events include: the San Francisco fire in 1904, the opening of the Panama Canal 1914, the World War I pandemic, the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
503 The Middle East and the United States
Events in the Middle East, both historical and current, and their relationship to United States foreign policy issues are studied in this interdisciplinary course involving both the History and Judaic Studies departments. Students will consider in depth the birth of the modern State of Israel in 1948 and the history of the Arab nations in the region with special emphasis on how the dynamics of the political situation in this part of the world impact on American foreign policy, particularly focusing on the issue of American energy needs and policy concerning oil.
504 United States Political History
This course offers students an in-depth look at how our country’s political system functions. It begins with a study of the history of the two-party system, continues with an exploration of bipartisan foreign policy prior to the end of the Cold War and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, and then takes a close look at the role of third parties (e.g., Populist, Progressive, Communist, Socialist, Independence) throughout U.S. history.
505 U.S. Current Affairs in the 21st Century
The key to understanding current affairs is an understanding of their historical backgrounds. Such an understanding is developed in this course, which looks at the following issues: immigration, taxation, the role of religion in public education (in the controversy over the teaching of evolution), the role of religion in lawmaking (in the debate over abortion), trade (with reference to NAFTA, CAFTA, the EU), environmentalism (focus on oil consumption and global warming). The course is an interdisciplinary one, involving the History, Science, and Judaic Studies departments.
601 Advanced Placement European History
Students may take Advanced Placement European History in the tenth grade. The advanced placement program is designed to allow students the opportunity to pursue college level courses in high school. This course focuses on the areas of European history from the Renaissance through the Cold War. Students will read text material as well as original sources. Students will also refine their skills in the process of creating a full historical research paper.
602 Advanced Placement United States History
Students may take Advanced Placement United States History in the eleventh grade. The Advanced Placement Program is designed to allow high school students the opportunity to pursue college-level studies while attending high school. While the course covers the same periods of history as the regular U.S. history course, emphasis will be placed on reading original sources and analyzing differing interpretations of historical events.
603 Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics
Twelfth grade students will be given the opportunity to take Advanced Placement U.S. Government. The advanced placement program is designed to allow students the opportunity to pursue college level courses in high school. This one-year course is the study of the role of the national government and its relationship to the concept of liberty in a pluralistic society. The course will cover the influence of American political culture, political parties, public opinion, the media, and interest groups on the Congress, the Presidency, and our Court System. A sophisticated understanding of majority-rule democracy, constitutionalism, and civil liberties will be stressed. The course also includes a study of economics and its interrelation with the U.S. government.