Social Studies Courses

REQUIRED COURSES – Students must take the required class or a designated AP/honors replacement to fulfill requirements for graduation. To be considered for AP/honors classes, students must apply on the Social Studies Department website.

World History (9th grade required) This course surveys the development of human societies from antiquity to the present. It serves as a basis for all future work in history and provides a background for work in literature as well. Among the topics studied are: The Rise of Humankind, Early Cities, Belief Systems and the Age of Trade. The course is oriented toward developing analytical skills through a hands-on approach to learning how to be a historian.

World History Plus – (9th grade – Replaces the World History requirement – Apply on Social Studies Department website) This course will differ from the traditional freshman World History course in that it will introduce the five themes of AP World History: Interaction Between Humans and the Environment; Development and Interaction of Cultures; State Building, Expansion, and Conflict; Creation, Expansion, and Interaction of Economic Systems; Development and Transformation of Social Structures, and will provide exposure to the AP History Disciplinary Practices (Analyzing Historical Evidence and Argument Development) and AP Reasoning Skills (Contextualization, Comparison, Causation, Continuity and Change).  There will also be an emphasis on writing, and several group and individual projects will be assigned. This course will be helpful to students interested in taking AP and IB classes in general, and particularly AP World History.

African American History  (l0th grade required) This course begins with the study of Africa’s intellectual and cultural history, and extends into the study of the various African cultural groups that were transplanted into the Western Hemisphere. Students will have opportunities to analyze and study the experiences of Africans transported to and enslaved in the Americas. Students will also learn how our nation was built, analyzing the experiences of Africans (free and enslaved) who resisted slavery and how they defined freedom for themselves. The course concludes with an examination of topics (racism, sexism, discrimination, etc.) that continue to affect American society and the world today.

African American History Honors – (10th grade – Replaces African American History requirement. – Apply on Social Studies Department website) For students considering AP and IB studies, this is a rigorous and intellectually challenging survey course designed to provide students with the “analytical skills” and conceptual knowledge necessary to engage the scholarship, materials, and issues of African American History. In addition to learning about the individual contributions of African Americans, students will learn of the societies that they built, as well as the communities they continue to maintain. The course allows students to discuss how the narratives and scholarship informed the body of work developed by African Americans, and subsequently the “intellectual progression” of the discipline of African American Studies. In addition to reading and analyzing the required materials, students will be challenged to bring to the class discussions their thoughts and ideas about the additional independent sources (scholarly, literary, oratory) and perspectives they consulted. The class discussions will provide space for students to intentionally and deliberately address framing questions; pose additional questions; and explore further questions using existing methodologies employed by the social sciences.

United States History (11th grade required) This course is a study of the political, diplomatic, economic and social history of the United States. Students will learn key events in US History, their causes and results. Students will become knowledgeable in the trends as well as events. They will learn how events follow causes and show how democratic society can direct trends.  The topics to be taught include obtaining independence, the growth of the nation, divisive conflicts, the unifying of the nation, individuals who gave direction to the nation and groups who changed or tried to change the direction of history. Class discussions, reports, speakers, field trips and film augment the course.

AP United States History (11th grade – Replaces US History requirement. – Apply on Social Studies Department website) The AP U.S. History course focuses on the development of historical thinking skills (chronological reasoning, comparing and contextualizing,  crafting historical arguments using historical evidence, and interpreting and synthesizing historical narrative) and an understanding of content learning objectives organized around seven themes, such as identity, peopling, and America in the world. In line with college and university U.S. history survey courses’ increased focus on early and recent American history and decreased emphasis on other areas, the AP U.S. History course expands on the history of the Americas from 1491 to 1607 and from 1980 to the present. It also allows teachers flexibility across nine different periods of U.S. history to teach topics of their choice in depth.


Social Science – (12th grade required)

This course contains two areas of study; economics and political science. Contemporary theories that constantly are changing are examined in terms of past developments. Field trips, guest speakers, films and other media enrich the two components. Typical among the economics topics studied are the Federal Reserve System, Keynesian economics and investment operation. The political science component includes study of federal, state, and local government. Comparison of the US democratic system with its counterparts in other societies receives careful analysis. A comprehensive senior project is required of each student in Social Science.

AP US Government and Politics (12th grade – Replaces Social Science requirement. – Apply on Social Studies Department website) Students will engage in an intensive study of foundations and structures of US government and ways that politics affect public policy in preparation for the AP exam. At the same time, students will implement an authentic social action policy, and political positions to fulfill their senior project requirement. They will choose a issue that is important to them to focus on, and they will evaluate positions, debate from different perspectives, contact and build connections with community-based organizations, interest groups, media, and elected officials. Students will evaluate their impact of their collective action and present achievements to the community.


IB History Higher Level Year 1 and 2 (11th & 12th grade – replaces both US History & Social Science requirements)

This is a comprehensive two-year course designed to cover key American and world history topics.  IB History HL puts a premium on developing the skills of critical thinking, and on developing an understanding of multiple interpretations of history. Teachers explicitly teach thinking and research skills such as comprehension, text analysis, transfer, and use of primary sources. There are six key concepts that have particular prominence throughout the DP history course: change, continuity, causation, consequence, significance and perspectives.  Specifically, the junior year focuses on a broad array of topics ranging from European exploration and conquest to the United States’ Civil War.  In the senior year, students embark on an in-depth comparative case study of the Civil Rights Movement in both the United States and apartheid-era South Africa; and a range of 20th Century wars and subsequent independence movements. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the IB Diploma Program.


ELECTIVE COURSES – Double up in Social Studies! These courses are taken in addition to required courses. Half-year courses will be taken in pairs.

AP European History / English 2 Honors (10th grade – Apply on the Social Studies Department website)

This course is designed for 10th graders who are excited about literature and history and are interested in entering the AP Capstone or IB Diploma programs in 11th grade.  Students will take English 2 Honors and AP European History with the same students in both sections, creating a unique and supportive learning community similar to that of the IB program.  Readings in English will follow the historical eras covered in AP European History (1450-2000), allowing students to explore connections between the two subjects in a manner typical of IB classes.  Finally, students will develop skills necessary for success in AP and IB classes by analyzing historical and literary texts, expressing that analysis through writing, and conducting a year-long research project on a topic of their interest.

AP Microeconomics (10th-12th grade elective – Apply on Social Studies Department website)

AP Microeconomics is an introductory college-level course that focuses on the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual economic decision-makers. The course also develops students’ familiarity with the operation of product and factor markets, distributions of income, market failure, and the role of government in promoting greater efficiency and equity in the economy. Students learn to use graphs, charts, and data to analyze, describe, and explain economic concepts.


AP Psychology (10th-12th grade elective – Apply on Social Studies Department website)

The course introduces students to the discipline of psychology by emphasizing the history of psychology as a science, the different theoretical approaches that underlie explanations of behavior, and the contemporary research methods used by psychologists. The emergence of scientific psychology will help students to understand the major approaches to the science: behavioral, biological, cognitive, humanistic, and psychodynamic.


AP World History (10th-12th grade elective – Apply on Social Studies Department website)

AP World History is designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college world history course. In AP World History students investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes from 1200 C.E. to the present. Students develop and use the same skills, practices, and methods employed by historians: analyzing primary and secondary sources; developing historical arguments; making historical comparisons; and utilizing reasoning about contextualization, causation, and continuity and change over time. The course provides themes that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places. Two sections will be open for students: a section for 10th and 11th graders and a section for 12th graders.


AP Human Geography (10th-12th grade elective – Apply on Social Studies Department website)

The purpose of the AP Human Geography course is to introduce students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. Students learn to employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human socioeconomic organization and its environmental consequences. They also learn about the methods and tools geographers use in their research and applications. Topics to be covered include: Geographical Perspectives, Human Population and Migration, Regional Variations of Cultural Patterns, Political Organization of Space, Global Economic Development, and Urban Land Use.


AP Seminar with African Diaspora Content – AP Capstone 1 (10th-11th grade elective – Apply on Social Studies Department website)

AP Seminar is a foundational course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics and issues by analyzing divergent perspectives. Students learn to synthesize information from multiple sources, develop their own perspectives in written essays, and design and deliver oral and visual presentations, both individually and as part of a team. Ultimately, the course aims to equip students with the power to analyze and evaluate information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidence-based arguments. This course explores content on the African diaspora (in regions of the Americas and Eurasia) and the peoples of the African continent. It treats the African and diaspora experience as exemplary of human experience in general. The course explores scales from the local to the global, tracing patterns, parallels, connections, and transformations in the lives of people of African descent. Study ranges from the community level to global consideration of the African diaspora. Students are to develop knowledge and interpretation with a focus on the issues of cultural practice, imperialism, and resistance. AP Seminar is a prerequisite for the AP Research course and a requirement for the AP Capstone Diploma.


IB Philosophy Standard Level (10th-12th grade elective – Apply on Social Studies Department website)

Philosophy is a systematic critical inquiry into profound, fascinating and challenging questions such as: What is it to be human? Do we have free will? What do we mean when we say something is right or wrong? These abstract questions arise out of our everyday experiences, and philosophical tools such as critical and systematic thinking, careful analysis, and construction of arguments provide the means of addressing such questions. The practice of philosophy deepens and clarifies our understanding of these questions, as well as our ability to formulate possible responses. IB Philosophy examines the core theme “Being human,” with a focus on political philosophy. We will explore classic philosophical texts and utilize artifacts from popular culture, specifically films and literature, in order to interrogate the extraordinary nature of “being human” in a political world.


IB Psychology Standard Level / Higher Level Year 1 (11th – 12th grade elective)

This is a one-year course in psychology. It is an intensive study of the subject incorporating three major perspectives: the biological, socio-cultural, and cognitive perspectives. Having acquired a thorough understanding of these approaches, the student will then apply this knowledge to acquire an understanding of dysfunctional behaviors from the point of view of each of these perspectives. The student will also learn the experimental method as used in psychological research so that they can successfully complete projects that are based on classic research in the field. Students are required to take an exam in May of the year in which the course is taken.


IB Psychology Higher Level Year 2 (12th grade elective)

The course aims to develop an awareness of how research findings can be applied to better understand human behavior. Students learn to employ cultural, ethical, and gender evaluations throughout their study of psychology to ultimately better understand the biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on behavior.  IB Psychology HL is intended to build upon prior higher-level psychology classes; therefore, prerequisites for this class are IB Psychology SL, AP Psychology or Ms. Snyder’s permission.


IB Global Politics Standard Level  (11th-12th grade elective – Apply on Social Studies Department website)

A seminar using newspapers, speakers, and other resources to understand the nature and roots of ethnic/religious/racial/national conflicts confronting the current world. Issues will be selected on a basis of immediacy and interest. Using class topics based upon contemporary international events and shared student research on individually selected topics, students will explore the reasons for the conflicts and search for possible solutions. Students are required to take an exam in May of the year in which the course is taken. Permission of the instructor Mr. Hung in room 202 is required.


Constitutional Law (10th – 12th grade elective)

This course will emphasize problem solving in dealing with the way law, technology and economics have impacted upon modernity. Special attention will be paid to constitutional, consumer and civil law; the impact of technology, and the concerns of the global economy. The course will help the student focus upon the future.


Global Slavery (10th through 12th grade elective half year)

Global slavery is a course designed to inform students of the changing nature of slavery from ancient times until the present. The global aspect of the course will lend itself to multiple perspectives and comparative efforts, while the slavery part of the course will focus on the meanings, practices, and identities fostered by both slavers and the enslaved. In addition, the course will investigate how several key themes influenced slavery over time. These themes include history, gender, class, race, and politics. The study of global slavery also permits students to better understand the rise of modernity as well as its most lasting vestige, global capitalism. Finally, this course on global slavery operates from an interdisciplinary framework and will help students understand ever-changing and complicated historical relationships.


Psychology (10th – 12th grade elective half-year)

Students have an opportunity in this course to study human behavior in its varied forms. The influence of environment upon the individual is considered in great detail. Attention is also paid to the area of abnormal behavior and methods of treatment. The psychology of learning and its application to the students themselves are explored. The role of clinical psychology in the late Twentieth Century is discussed along with its relationship to psychiatry. An historical perspective is maintained throughout the course. Students will prepare and deliver a series of reports and also will participate in classroom panels.


Philadelphia History (10th-12th grade elective half-year)

Students will trace the evolution of one of the world’s first modern cities. Philadelphia is a case study for the development of urban America. Through the study of primary, secondary, and archaeological resources, students will investigate the social and ethnic forces that created Philadelphia and evaluate their interaction. Finally, students will determine whether William Penn’s, “Holy Experiment” has been a success, a failure, or something in between.


Women’s Studies (10th-12th grade elective half-year)

In this course, we explore the great contributions and gains that women have made both in history and today. We examine the challenges and barriers of discrimination that women and girls have overcome and continue to face. Diversity is an important theme in this course as we study women and girls across race, class and the globe: We learn, for instance, about working class Philadelphia women who worked making silk stockings in Kensington factories, Pakistani women who fight for the rights and education of girls, and Syrian women attempting to escape war, to name just a few. Women’s great strength in fighting to end not just the injustices they face but those that impact a plurality of others is a key component of what we study.  In a culminating project, students choose a compelling, contemporary issue and research the solutions posed by other women and women’s groups as well as devising some solutions of their own.