History / Social Science
Three years required of history/social science, including one year of World History, Cultures or Geography; one year of US History; and one additional year (two semesters) of Advanced electives.
Some of the courses below are not offered every semester. Courses being taught currently (Spring 2019) are indicated with an *
World History *
The world’s history from the European Renaissance to the present is the subject of this year-long course. To better understand ourselves and our own time, the present state of our world and how it came to be will be an ongoing focus of our study. We will examine the multicultural history of humanity as “the West” came to dominant power. We will engage with changing and often clashing ideas. We will encounter the powers and resistance that shape humanity and the world we are a part of.
United States History *
After a whirlwind review of early American history, this course intensively studies the United States in the 20th century. Proceeding chronologically, decade by decade, we consider presidents and their political visions; the changing role of the U.S. on the world stage and its international conflicts; the period's astounding economic growth; the controversies of race, gender, and class; cultural issues and tensions; and the enormous impact of the 1960s. Students are required to take lecture notes, learn American geography, read historical essays, and conduct independent research.
This course is a general introduction to psychology. In addition to a history of the field, it includes the study of human physiology, psychopharmacology, personality theory, and abnormal psychology. The course is designed to provide the student with a sense of one of the 20th century's most unusual explorations: the charting of the human psyche. We examine where the field stands today and how its insights relate to us all. Psychology is not considered an advanced course; therefore, US History is not a prerequisite, and it does not count towards the 10 units of Advanced Social Studies required for graduation.
The following advanced social studies classes require a US History prerequisite:
Ancient World History
Introduction to Eastern Philosophy intends to present students with a variety of important philosophical systems of thought and practice over the past three thousand years of Asian history. We will encounter and examine the philosophic worldviews of Shamanism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Shinto, both in historical development and in our present world. The significant questions of what is reality, life, death, human nature and ethics in each system will be explored. Students will be analyzing and gaining an understanding of these philosophies through the analytic close-reading of primary texts and through investigations of the art, the music, the meditative practices and the social life of these related though divergent systems of perceiving and acting in the world. Students will express their insights in reflective and expository writing, discussion and through furthering their own interests and understanding through research.
An understanding of the history and culture of China is crucial to comprehension of both world history and contemporary affairs. This course will examine the history and culture that have created present-day China, from the Paleolithic to the profound economic, political, and social changes taking place today. Change and continuity will be a theme investigated throughout the course. We will consider long-standing controversial issues of social order, relations to nature, statecraft, resource allocation, and imperialism. We will end with a critical inquiry into China’s emergence as the world’s most populous economic superpower.
The world’s cultures are the focus of this course. How do people in different cultures connect with their environment and with each other? What roles do belief, behavior, power, conflict, family, gender, age, class, race, language, and art play in these relationships? Traditional cultures that have sustained themselves for many thousands of years and cultures changing in the current era of aggressive globalization will be considered, including contemporary culture in the USA. We will study several cultures as examples and learn to use the conceptual tools of anthropology to better understand diverse cultures as they understand themselves and as anthropologists see them.
The course is divided into three parts. As in any traditional American introductory economics course, we will explore the capitalist economic structure and its evolution. In the second and briefest part of the course, we will look at other economic systems such as socialism. The third part of the course will be an exploration of the current upsurge in green economic initiatives. This is where ecology and social justice are becoming prime considerations in transforming economic systems. This course will be a vital study to help us understand what is going on right now, how we got here and where we can go from here in our future.
Film History *
This course traces the major developments in world cinema from its earliest beginnings in the 1890s to the present. The course is structured roughly chronologically and focuses on moments in cinema’s development that are particularly relevant from a historical perspective, be it aesthetic, political, technological, cultural and/or economic. The course will acquaint you with the events, causes and consequences of film history and to foster the critical skills necessary for you to assess and advance your own arguments about that history. By the end of the semester, you should be able to identify and critically examine the primary texts and contexts of major film movements and trends, to describe the aesthetic, political, cultural, economic and technological catalysts that distinguished and helped to shape those movements and trends, and to compose your own credible, original historical discourse about film history.
History & Art
The world’s visual art is the focus of this course. How do people in different cultures and different times visually relate to their world? What is art? We will explore this. This includes looking at art, understanding art and maybe even making some of our own.
History & Social Justice
The course will address the history relevant to multicultural, diversity and social justice issues and the role of racial, ethnic and cultural heritage, nationality, socioeconomic status, family structure, age, gender, sexual orientation, religious and spiritual beliefs, occupation, physical and mental status, local, regional, national and international perspective, and issues of equity such as oppression, power and privilege in American society. Starting with the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights and amendments, we will explore, discuss, question, research, present, and examine the struggles by native (American Indians) and immigrant populations of color (Africans, Latinos, Asians) as well as the unique struggle of women, Jews and homosexuals. We will look at local, state and national efforts by the judicial system to effect changes when legislative efforts have proved insufficient or ineffective. Considerable reading, research, writing and discussion are key components of this exciting course.
This course focuses on the history of gay men and lesbians since the coining of the word homosexuality in an anonymous German pamphlet in 1869 to the present. Students will learn about this history as it has unfolded over the past 140 years with each era and its events examined and discussed. The course will include Native American, African American, Latino, Asian American, and European American narratives, with relevant texts from history, film, anthropology and fiction serving as source material. The course is designed to prepare students to be knowledgeable of same-sex desire, heterosexuality, homosexuality, and the regulation of sexual identities across different racial/ethnic and class/regional communities.
Middle East Studies *
An understanding of the history and cultures of the Middle East is crucial to comprehension of both world history and contemporary affairs. This course will examine the geography, history, cultures, religions, and economics that have created the present day Middle East. We will consider how oil, Islam, Zionism, diaspora, right of return, fundamentalism, imperialism, occupation, and nuclear proliferation have shaped the region and our world today. Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf States, Iran, Israel and Palestine are examples of key nations to be examined. Recent and on-going conflicts and issues will be analyzed in depth from the viewpoints of differing groups, along with all their various proposed solutions.
A course for musician and non-musician alike, the class traces the history of music from the late 17th century to the present. Attention centers on the various "schools" of composition: the rebirth or Renaissance of music following the Middle Ages; the Baroque sounds of Bach and Handel; the Classic forms of Haydn and Mozart; the Romantic compositions of Beethoven and his later nationalistic disciples; and the rich diversity in musical works created by the “modern" composers of the 20th century. We also look at the role personality plays in the creative process as well as the larger role music plays in society as a whole. Considerable emphasis is placed on listening to recorded music, video, and live performance. There is ample opportunity for reading, thinking and writing about music.
Origins of the Holocaust
A more exact title for this class would be "Nationalism, Identity, Fascism, and the Holocaust." Europe went berserk in the mid-20th century, deeply compromising its Humanistic traditions. The optimism and tolerance generated by the 18th century Enlightenment led to a century of expanding freedoms. People began to have choices. One choice that became increasingly common was selecting ethnic identity as one's basic identity. This class explores the impact of nationalism on modern identity as it unfolded in the period of 1789 to 1945. Emphasis is placed on the dissolution of the multi-cultural Hapsburg state and the rise of ethnic national exclusivity — factors that helped create Nazism. The larger phenomenon of anti-Semitism, the construction of European racism, and the Holocaust itself are central topics of study.
Introduction to Philosophy intends to introduce students to a variety of important philosophical texts and authors, but also to introduce them to the process of analyzing philosophical writing and in turn of writing about philosophy. In addition to these goals, students will be exposed to the life-altering questions about the nature of their own lives, meaning, existence, purposiveness, and what constitutes the good life in the framework of their own experience. Students will learn to outline and write abstracts of the primary texts we study and to use these preliminary analyses in stages to produce independent writing of their own in response to the assigned primary texts. Students will engage in close reading, discussion, and verbal and written analysis of primary material by Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Berkeley, and Nietzsche. We will supplement our readings with readings and discussions from a secondary text: Archetypes of Wisdom: an Introduction to Philosophy, by Douglas J. Soccio.
Revolution & Theater
An exploration of revolutionary events as reflected in the theatre. The focus of the course is the industrialization of society, and the various national, class, gender, and ethnic conflicts, and their cultural and ideological aspects. The course begins with the French Revolution, characterized by rational mastery of nature and society, and ends with the Second World War, characterized by total chaos and mass destruction. These events, and investigations, will provide a context for examining the works of Buchner, Bond, Brecht, Ibsen, O’Neill, Shaw, and Stoppard, among others. Significant reading, discussion and writing are required.
This course examines the history of socialism from its theoretical and practical application as a critique of modernization to the recent collapse of many communist governments worldwide. The focus is on socialism's relationship to other political discourses, including liberalism, capitalism, anarchism, nationalism, fundamentalism, and, of course, Marxism.
The origin of all cultures is a religious as well as a social and political question. This class explores the world's major spiritual traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity; it also looks at the primal religious traditions of the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Oceania. Through a comparative look at religion, through readings and meetings with guest speakers, the class considers the question of human and social origins as well as human nature; good and evil, and the relevance of social ethics; birth and death and the afterlife. In addition to religious dogma, the class looks at the living spiritual traditions as reflected in art, music, and social life in their historical and contemporary dimensions. Because we live in a multi-cultural society that operates under the legal notion of freedom of religion, understanding our religious differences and common ground is a necessary part of maintaining a free and diverse society. Students write three essays, complete a major research paper, and present oral reports to the class.