History, Religion and Society

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” George Santayana famously remarked. 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, Religion and Society at King's Academy uses the methods of the humanities — reading, research, writing, analysis, discussion 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 department also seeks to foster economic, cultural and religious literacy. To that end, the two foundational courses in the 9th and 10th grades integrate the study of the world’s great religions and philosophical traditions into the broader study of peoples and their epochs. The histories and tenets of these religions and philosophies will often be used as lenses through which students will be asked to gaze. 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 discuss issues relating to 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. The department embraces the concept of teaching to a narrative of inquiry, rather than a narrative of conclusions. Our students are expected to be intellectually courageous.

2024-2025 Course Descriptions