History and Social Studies

History rests on the collective memory of cultures and societies, accounting for their core values while also examining the impact of past decisions on present circumstances. Without history, one cannot undertake any sensible inquiry into the political, social or moral issues of contemporary society. The study of history opens students to opportunities necessary to develop a comprehensive view of the world and an understanding of societies including those whose traditions and values differ from their own. King's Academy believes that an understanding of world history fosters the kind of tolerance, empathy, respect, critical thinking and civic courage required by an increasingly pluralistic society and inter-dependent world.

The Department of History and Social Studies at King's Academy uses the methods of the humanities—research, analysis and interpretation—to promote learning and the understanding of a shared historical past. The department's interdisciplinary approach begins with the study of the concepts of present individual and communal cultural identities. It then moves to methods for evaluating the past, and concludes with an examination of positive citizenship in the world. The goal is to recreate the context of an era so that students can identify and understand struggles, debates and accomplishments of that period. Possessing the facts of history, students can then engage with the past, weaving together these facts into interconnected patterns, and emerge with an understanding not only of what happened, but why it happened. Courses foster a sense of how it must have felt to stand in another historical era. In addition, students, especially in advanced courses, discuss issues of historiography—that is not only what happened and why it happened, but the different ways in which history can be narrated and the uses to which these different narratives are put.

Courses in this department for 2016-2017:

9th Grade World History

The 9th Grade World History, Geography and Civics course introduces students to all the tools historians use to reconstruct, analyze and debate the past. After an initial exposure to the skills of reading, writing and thinking like a historian in Unit 1, which encompasses questioning, understanding multiple perspectives, contexts and biases, as well as an investigation of various artifacts and sources, the course shifts into a chronological approach. Incorporating the QUEST framework, students embark on a journey that allows them to reconstruct the past, make meaning of it, and apply it to their daily lives. Collaborating with peers in a variety of activities that put them at the center of their learning, students investigate the following: the Agricultural Revolution and the First Civilizations, Ancient Greece and Rome, Buddhism and the Far East, Monotheistic Religions, the Middle Ages, and Islamic Caliphates. During the course of the year, students are given opportunities to practice their writing, reading comprehension as well as public speaking skills.
Course length: One year

A Global History of the Middle East

What role has the Middle East played in shaping the world today? How does studying the past help us understand the world around us? How does studying our past help us understand who we are? The 10th grade history course seeks to answer these questions by studying the world in which our students live and operate as global citizens. Our historians tackle these essential questions through the lens of Middle Eastern scholars and theorists and focus their studies on the Middle East and its relationship to the world.  As historians, students begin by solidifying the skills needed to delve into the world of historical knowledge; they learn how to recognize bias in primary sources, how to find main points in difficult texts, and how to connect facts and information to larger historical timelines and questions. The course uses essential questions as a guide to connect the past to the present, and they allow us to tackle large thematic concepts such as cultural relativism, identity, nationalism, westernization, and global politics. Beginning with Ibn Battuta’s travels, we move from the Renaissance to the Ottoman Golden Age, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution to the rise of nationalism under Muhammad Ali’s reign of Egypt. We travel beyond the two Great Wars, the Cold War, and finally arrive in the modern Arab world and what it means to be a citizen in today’s complex society. In addition to a variety of primary sources, texts read include Machiavelli’s The Prince and Lois Lowry’s The Giver, as well as a multitude of poems and literary excerpts from authors like Blake and Wordsworth. Students will study artistic works by both European and Ottoman masters in order to achieve a holistic understanding of social movements and how they are affected by political and industrial movements of the times, and this array of varied historical sources will aid in the student's ability to make connections between historical periods and across cultural disciplines. Major projects include a multi-step comparative research paper as well as a live role play of the Paris Peace Conference. By the end of the course the students will have a deeper understanding of the Middle East’s role in shaping global politics, and they will be equipped with the analytical and writing skillsets necessary to tackle larger questions about the modern identities at play in the 21st century’s worldwide stage.
Course length: One year

Big History

Big History is an interdisciplinary course that spans the breadth of time. Beginning with the Big Bang, Big History takes students through the creation of the universe, the formation of planets, evolution of life on Earth, and eventually to human history from pre-history to today. This class serves as an elective for students who are interested in learning about human history through a multidisciplinary approach. Learning takes place in a highly supported and non-traditional hybrid environment, which provides increased flexibility along with opportunities for autonomous learning. As a class for upper classmen, it will build upon the writing, research, presentation, and cognitive skills developed in the 10th grade.
Course length: One year
Prerequisites: Open to 11th and 12th graders only. Not open to students who took the course as 9th graders.

United States History

United States History is a year-long offering for 11th and 12th grade students. The overarching goal of the course is to look at a series of themes and issues that have arisen within and come to define the United States of America. The course is built upon an extensive examination and analysis of primary sources in order to gain a better understanding of past events, figures and phenomena. The course is designed to be a critical look at the United States from the outside – a study not only of the country’s founding principles, but also of the ways in which those principles have affected the United States’ sense of itself, and informed its actions on the world stage.
Course Length: One year

History of the Modern Middle East (MME): Part I

The three elective courses which make up The History of the Modern Middle East 1882 to the Present Day explore the issues and problems of this region in a globalizing world. The course poses essential questions about politics, economics and society which encourage students to think deeply about themselves and the world. The course explores the period chronologically, but students are encouraged to relate the era to other periods of history and the present day. Each week students receive varied instruction.

Note: Students may choose any or all of the three elective courses that make up MME.

  • Part I – Empires and Globalization (1882 – 1948) covers the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire and the brief period of direct European rule in the Arab world, ending with the 1948 Nakba.
    Course length: Fall term

History of the Modern Middle East (MME): Part II

The three elective courses which make up The History of the Modern Middle East 1882 to the Present Day explore the issues and problems of this region in a globalizing world. The course poses essential questions about politics, economics and society which encourage students to think deeply about themselves and the world. The course explores the period chronologically, but students are encouraged to relate the era to other periods of history and the present day. Each week students receive varied instruction.

Note: Students may choose any or all of the three elective courses that make up MME.

  • Part II – The Cold War (1948 – 1991) covers the rise and fall of nationalist movements and dictatorships and the revival of political Islam, in the context of the Cold War, focusing particularly on the political economy of oil and the causes and consequences of revolutions.
    Course length: Winter term

History of the Modern Middle East (MME): Part III

The three elective courses which make up The History of the Modern Middle East 1882 to the Present Day explore the issues and problems of this region in a globalizing world. The course poses essential questions about politics, economics and society which encourage students to think deeply about themselves and the world. The course explores the period chronologically, but students are encouraged to relate the era to other periods of history and the present day. Each week students receive varied instruction.

Note: Students may choose any or all of the three elective courses that make up MME.

  • Part III – The Revival, Advances and Retreats of Globalization (1991 – present day) covers the establishment of Pax Americana across the Middle East after the fall of the Soviet Union, culminating in the ‘War on Terror’ and the ‘Arab Spring.’ The course will explore deep problems the region faces, in the context of globalization and its unpredictable consequences. Students may use this unit to pursue further interests in particular countries and regions.
    Course length: Spring term​

Introduction to Common Law: Part I

This three-part elective course explores contemporary common law, as practiced in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Commonwealth and the United States. It is ideal for students wishing to pursue university studies in law, but is also be invaluable for students of social studies and philosophy, and those who wish to explore essential questions about this fundamental aspect of complex societies. The course focuses on contemporary common law, which of all the world’s major legal systems is employed by the greatest number of people.

The first two elective courses begin with explorations of the doctrine of binding precedent (the way common law is based on previous judicial decisions, rather than a legal code) and statutory interpretation (the way judges interpret and apply statutes passed by legislatures).

Students are expected to read primary (cases and statutes) and secondary (articles and monographs) sources regularly and critically. Critical reading is an essential skill for lawyers, and students will read and study cases, statutes and constitutions every week. Students will be expected to apply precedents (previous judgments on common law or statutory interpretation) to novel criminal, private and public law problems – in writing and in mock trials. Students will also tackle essential questions regarding the substance and the morality of the law.

Part I – Civil and Criminal Wrongs
Part I introduces students to the crucial study and thinking skills they will be developing across the course, and then tackles English law’s treatment of wrongs, in criminal and tort law. The former are wrongs which society believes to be serious enough to warrant public sanction; the latter are wrongs for which private individuals may bring actions against each other (i.e. sue each other). This elective will explore the varying burdens of proof, requirements of fault and consequences of wrongs. Students will test their knowledge of precedent, statutory interpretation and the law of wrongs in a mock trial.
Course length: Fall term

Introduction to Common Law: Part II

This three-part elective course explores contemporary common law, as practiced in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Commonwealth and the United States. It is ideal for students wishing to pursue university studies in law, but is also be invaluable for students of social studies and philosophy, and those who wish to explore essential questions about this fundamental aspect of complex societies. The course focuses on contemporary common law, which of all the world’s major legal systems is employed by the greatest number of people.

The first two elective courses begin with explorations of the doctrine of binding precedent (the way common law is based on previous judicial decisions, rather than a legal code) and statutory interpretation (the way judges interpret and apply statutes passed by legislatures).

Students are expected to read primary (cases and statutes) and secondary (articles and monographs) sources regularly and critically. Critical reading is an essential skill for lawyers, and students will read and study cases, statutes and constitutions every week. Students will be expected to apply precedents (previous judgments on common law or statutory interpretation) to novel criminal, private and public law problems – in writing and in mock trials. Students will also tackle essential questions regarding the substance and the morality of the law.

Part II – Private Law
Part II explores legal relationships and disputes between private citizens, and investigates the curious distinction between common law and equity (or chancery). Students then explore how these two types of legal rules interact to govern property rights. This elective will help students understand the law behind almost every part of their lives, including contracts, mortgages, rents, charities and wills. It will also help students think more deeply about the trade-offs inherent in all legal relationships.
Course length: Winter term 

Introduction to Common Law: Part III

This three-part elective course explores contemporary common law, as practiced in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Commonwealth and the United States. It is ideal for students wishing to pursue university studies in law, but is also be invaluable for students of social studies and philosophy, and those who wish to explore essential questions about this fundamental aspect of complex societies. The course focuses on contemporary common law, which of all the world’s major legal systems is employed by the greatest number of people.

The first two elective courses begin with explorations of the doctrine of binding precedent (the way common law is based on previous judicial decisions, rather than a legal code) and statutory interpretation (the way judges interpret and apply statutes passed by legislatures).

Students are expected to read primary (cases and statutes) and secondary (articles and monographs) sources regularly and critically. Critical reading is an essential skill for lawyers, and students will read and study cases, statutes and constitutions every week. Students will be expected to apply precedents (previous judgments on common law or statutory interpretation) to novel criminal, private and public law problems – in writing and in mock trials. Students will also tackle essential questions regarding the substance and the morality of the law.

Part III – Constitutional and International Law
Part III explores public law. It first explores the United Kingdom, whose famously uncodified constitution and judge-made law is the basis of the public law of around a quarter of the world’s countries. It then explores the revered Constitution of the world’s only superpower. It then briefly considers the law of the world’s most ambitious transnational organization. It concludes with considering international law. This part of the course is perhaps the closest linked to ethics, international relations and politics.
Course length: Spring term 

AP World History

This course surveys the history of the world, but rather than simply covering prehistoric times to contemporary history through conventional classroom methods, students explore history as historians do; by engaging in the extensive examination and analysis of primary sources to gain a better understanding of past events, figures and phenomena. Students should expect regular reading and writing assignments throughout the year, as the course aims to help improve their critical reading and composition skills. Students enrolled in this course are expected to sit for the AP World History exam in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Department consent

AP United States History

This course surveys the history of the United States from the earliest European colonial impulses to the beginning of the 21st century. The course is interdisciplinary in its scope, and multicultural in its exploration of the formation and evolution of the United States. Students engage in the extensive examination and analysis of primary sources in order to gain a better understanding of past events, figures and phenomena. As with the other AP history courses, students should expect regular reading and writing assignments throughout the year, as the course aims to help them improve their critical reading and composition skills. Students enrolled in this course are expected to sit for the AP United States History exam in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Department consent

AP Art History

In this course students study world history through the artistic images created by humankind – its scope spanning from prehistoric cave paintings to artistic works of the year 2000. Students see the history of the world unfold within its intellectual, social, religious, economic and cultural context, deepening their understanding of art, architecture, painting and sculpture, as well as the civilizations from which these forms of expression were born. As this is an AP course, it emphasizes the sharpening of writing skills and the habits of effective thinking, speaking, reading and writing. Students enrolled in this course are expected to sit for the AP Art History exam in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Department consent

AP Human Geography

AP Human Geography introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use and alteration of the Earth’s surface. Students employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to analyze human social organization and its environmental consequences. They also learn the methods and tools geographers use in their science and practice. Over the course of the year, students work to develop skills aligned with five college-level goals based on the National Geography Standards. These topics include: nature and perspectives, population, cultural patterns and processes, political organization of space, agricultural and rural land use, industrialization and economic development, and cities and urban land use. The course includes in-depth reading, case studies, projects and assessments. Students enrolled in this course are expected to sit for the AP Human Geography exam in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Department consent

AP Psychology

This course introduces students to the study of the human mind. Students learn about the biological basis for human emotions, personality traits, behavior, thought and learning processes. Special emphasis is placed on the study of human relationships (e.g. love and family relationships). In addition, students explore the role of psychology in phenomena such as racism, prejudice and various phobias. They have an opportunity to discuss and debate ethical dilemmas in psychology for instance: should mood-based illnesses like depression be considered actual illnesses? To supplement this course of study, students engage in the works of influential psychologists such as Freud and Jung, with emphasis on their contributions to the contemporary understanding of human behavior. Students enrolled in this course are expected to sit for the AP Psychology exam in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Department consent

AP Economics

In this course, which covers both microeconomics and macroeconomics, students gain an understanding of how scarcity and rational economic decision-making can shape individual decisions within a nation’s economic system and various market systems. In the microeconomics portion, individual households, firms and industries become the focal point for understanding laws, principles and models that give meaning to economic systems. The course also explores the vagaries of international trade, labor intensive goods, land intensive goods, capital intensive goods, gains from trade, free trade, trading possibilities line, supply and demand, exports and imports, and production. The macroeconomics portion focuses on National Accounting, and on how nations solve their economic problems of recession or inflation. Lastly, the concepts of why nations trade is explored by looking at exchange rates and specialization of countries. Enrolled students enrolled are expected to sit for the AP Macro and AP Micro Economics exams in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Department consent

AP Microeconomics

This year-long AP Microeconomics course is designed for students who are not interested in the fast pace of the combination micro/macro course. Unlike AP Economics, which ends in writing two separate AP exams (one Micro and one Macro-economics), AP Microeconomics ends in one AP Exam. The course looks at the individual person, firm and industry to better understand how people manage scarce resources like land labor and capital. Students learn about market systems and supply and demand to help them grasp how and why economic choices are made, and how scarce resources are distributed. By understanding the cost data of a business, students will gain understanding of how a firms decides how much to produce and how many laborers should be hired to work. An understanding of how to solve basic formulas and work out percentages suffices. Enrolled students are expected to sit for the AP Microeconomics Exam in May.
Course length: One year 
Prerequisite: Department consent

AP Macroeconomics

Macroeconomics takes us into a deeper understanding of a nation’s economy. Students gain an understanding of unemployment and inflation, two of the major problems an economic system faces. They see how these two statistics change the economy by looking at the concept of aggregate demand and supply.  Government plays a role in the economy by its spending and taxes (fiscal policy) to help solve economic problems. Understanding how a central banking system uses the money supply to correct problems is also a key component in the course. Finally, students will be introduced to international trade and exchange rates. Enrolled students are expected to sit for the AP Macroeconomics Exam in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Department consent

AP Modern European History

This course surveys the history of Europe from the late Middle Ages to contemporary history. The course emphasizes the evolution of political, economic, social, philosophical, artistic and scientific trends. As in other AP history courses, students engage in the extensive examination and analysis of primary sources in order to understand the complexity and multiple perspectives of past events, figures and phenomena. There is intensive reading and writing throughout the year as the course strives to hone the students’ critical reading and composition skills. Students enrolled in the course are expected to sit for the AP Modern European History Exam in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisite: Department consent​

AP Comparative Government and Politics

The AP course in Comparative Government and Politics is based on college-level introductory comparative government courses that focus on the comparative study of political institutions and processes in different regions of the world. This course provides an introduction to the essential questions and concepts used by political scientists to examine various state systems and investigates the functions of a state, relationships between citizens and the government, separation of powers, democracy and electoral systems, government-parliament relations, and fundamental questions of social and political rights. In the course, students examine the political and constitutional systems of Great Britain, China, Nigeria, Mexico, Russia and Iran and use these examples to draw conclusions about global trends in government and politics. Enrolled students are expected to sit for the AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam in May.
Course length: One year
Prerequisites: Department consent

Last updated
February 18, 2016