Social Studies Course Descriptions
The goal of the social studies department is to foster political and historical understanding, analytical and evaluative thought processes, and enhanced civic participation. Students are encouraged to actively engage in debate and in group exploration of the events that have shaped our society. Reading, writing, and thinking analytical are required on a daily basis. Classes employ a variety of methods to stimulate student interest and understanding. Some of these techniques include Paideia seminars, fishbowls, structured debates, projects, and district and national competitions.
AP Government and Politics
This class explores the modern workings of the US government and political systems. Ripped from the headlines, this class is very relevant to the immediate lives of the students. Our students employ the evening news, a variety of reading sources, and interactive websites to explore not only the nation’s polity, but the student’s ideologies as well.
AP US History
APUSH examines the social, political, and economic forces that have shaped our nation. Students read many different perspectives of those forces and learn to analyze and evaluate the relative importance of many events and movements in our history. The class is intensive, rigorous, and challenging. While the course outline is similar to other US History classes, it differs in its depth of coverage, its reading expectations and levels, and its methods of assessment. This course will be taught in conjunction with AP English Language. Many of the class activities will be relevant in both classes and some grades will be common to both courses.
AP World History
The purpose of the AP World History Course is to develop greater understanding of the evolution of global processes and contacts, in interaction with different types of human societies. This understanding is advanced through a combination of selective, factual knowledge and appropriate analytical skills. The course highlights the nature of changes in international frameworks, and their causes and consequences, as well as, comparisons among major societies. The course emphasizes relevant, factual knowledge deployed in conjunction with leading interpretive issues and types of historical evidence. The course builds on an understanding of cultural, institutional, and technological precedents that, along with geography, set the human stage. Periodization, explicitly discussed, forms an organizing principle for dealing with change and continuity throughout the course. Specific themes provide further organization to the course, along with consistent attention to contacts among the societies that form the core of world history as a field of study.
AP Comparative Government and Politics
Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to fundamental concepts used by political scientists to study the processes and outcomes of politics in a variety of country settings. The course aims to illustrate the rich diversity of political life, to show available institutional alternatives, to explain differences in processes and policy outcomes, and to communicate to students the importance of global political and economic changes. In addition to covering the major concepts that are used to organize and interpret what we know about political phenomena and relationships, the course will cover specific countries and their governments. Six countries form the core of the AP Comparative Government and Politics course: China, Great Britain, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia. (Adapted from the AP Comparative Government description at the College Board’s site, AP Central.)
AP Human Geography
The AP Human Geography course introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of the 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.