High School Social Studies Course Description and Proficiencies

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Required Courses


United States History I (9th grade)

This course is designed to provide students with essential knowledge, skills, and values needed to closely investigate the time period in United States history, 1850-1939.  The scope of content is organized sequentially, but also into five principal themes: 1) global relations; 2) citizenship and government; 3) development of the economy; 4) human interactions with the environment; and 5) cultural identity and diversity.  This survey of history is intended to provide students with a comprehensive, multi-faceted perspective of the United States in order to construct meaning of how people lived through introspective, informed, and collaborative intellectual discourse in the classroom.   To extend students' frame of reference beyond the national context, local and global connections to U.S. events and phenomena are integrated appropriately throughout the course.  Students in all levels will study the same topics; the depth of study increases with each level.

United States History II (10th grade)

This course is designed to provide students with essential knowledge, skills, and values needed to closely investigate the time period in United States history, 1939 - present.  The scope of content is organized sequentially, but also into five principal themes: 1) global relations; 2) citizenship and government; 3) development of the economy; 4) human interactions with the environment; and 5) cultural identity and diversity.  This survey of history is intended to provide students with a comprehensive, multi-faceted perspective of the United States in order to construct meaning of how people lived through introspective, informed, and collaborative intellectual discourse in the classroom.   To extend students' frame of reference beyond the national context, local and global connections to U.S. events and phenomena are integrated appropriately throughout the course.  Students in all levels will study the same topics; the depth of study increases with each level.



Global Perspectives (11th grade)

This course is designed with two broad aims for students: promoting worldmindedness and child-centeredness.  To achieve these goals, students consider their own conceptions of citizenship by exploring global perspectives, competencies, experiences, and systems.  The scope of content is organized into four principal themes: 1) global citizenship; 2) comparative systems and globalization; 3) global security; and 4) planet awareness.  The knowledge, skills, and dispositions herein involve a multidisciplinary study, providing students with subject orientation in the fields of geography, civics, history, economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, and environmental studies.  Given the current global challenges of the 21st century, this course enables students to deeply investigate how individuals, groups, and societies make decisions and act in response to complex, global issues.  A case study approach that encapsulates multiple perspectives provides students with an opportunity to understand issues through in-depth inquiry, deliberation of their own positions, engagement with diverse sources of information and technologies, and collaborative and constructive problem-solving activities.  Students in all levels study the same topics; the depth of study increases with each level.


Electives: Exploratory

Economics (Grades 10-12)

This semester course aims to provide students with theoretical underpinnings and functional knowledge in economics to become informed consumers, producers, and citizens in today's world.  Economics is the study of how individuals, businesses, and governments make decisions about the use of scarce resources in a world of unlimited wants and needs.  This is done at both the microeconomic and macroeconomic level, both of which will be examined in detail.  At the microeconomic level, students will investigate the smaller units of the economy and individual firms and markets.  In macroeconomics, students will study the global economy and economics of nations and governments as they try to foster growth and stability.  The course is useful in helping students to acquire many life skills, and also in establishing a foundation for more advanced study of economics. 

Modern, Early Modern, and Classical Philosophy (Grades 11-12)

This yearlong course provides students with the knowledge and tools to contemplate, discuss, and evaluate explanations developed by philosophers to understand the nature and course of human life.  Students will explore the ideas of philosophers and thinkers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Marx, and Sartre.  Built centrally on Western ideals and figures students undergo an intense study of metaphysics and epistemology.  Philosophical foundations of politics are demonstrated as students determine the relationship between government and its citizens, focusing on the qualifications of a just society.  Since the basis of ethical decision making is often a reoccurring theme throughout the study of human behavior, students study multiple perspectives on how people can differentiate ethical from unethical actions, while applying learning to contemporary ethical dilemmas.  Although the course is heavily rooted in Western philosophy, a comparison of parallel themes in Eastern philosophy is explored to learn how the cyclical nature of existence and thought guides practices of individuals.  Through in-depth reading, writing, analysis and discussion, students gain an understanding of philosophical questions and ideas, and in the process, learn to develop, organize and articulate their own ideas.

Racism, Genocide, and the Holocaust (Grades 10-12)

This semester course guides students through a comprehensive exploration into the subjects of race and genocide studies.  Students first examine individual and global identity conceptions of ethnicity, race, gender, and culture.  Through this process of conceptualizing race and ethnicity - students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the complexities of human conflict and coexistence.  The study of genocide begins with the Holocaust, as this seminal event becomes a key reference in understanding and investigating patterns of genocide present in other nations and through various human rights violations.  Lastly, while investigating race and genocide, a relationship is drawn between citizenship and the role of individuals in promoting diversity at local, state, national and international level. 

Sociology (Grades 10-12)

This semester course aims to provide students with comprehensive knowledge and relevant skills in the field of sociology in preparation for more advanced educational exploration into the subject and application to real life experiences.  By investigating classical and contemporary sociological theorists, students can apply distinct perspectives of sociology to evaluate social groups, institutions, and problems.  The process of socialization occurs for individuals in different ways and through various life stages, and the agents contributing to socialization are essential to this study.  In every society, individuals are stratified by social class; recognizing the classification and impact of social class is a complex and rich subject explored as a way to understand why individuals are treated differently based on their background.  As students examine how American society operates and how its people behave, they explore topics including: family, minority groups, crime, prison, and poverty.

You and the Law (Grades 10-12)

This course is designed to explore various dimensions of the law and its impact on individuals, groups, and institutions in New Jersey and the United States.  Addressing diverse interests, this course serves as a launching of college and career pursuits in various legal fields, such as criminal justice and jurisprudence.  Students explore the nature and nuance of law in both the criminal and civil arena.  There is also a strong focus on how various social and economic institutions are impacted by the law, and in turn, its effect on the lives of people.  Throughout the course, students become active participants in embodying the experience of decision-makers and legal players in court system through mock trial.  To deepen students' perspectives and refine interpretive skills, students analyze actual court case studies and construct their own analyses in written and verbal forums. 

Electives: Advanced Placement

AP Art History (Grades 11-12)

This rigorous course is designed and taught at a level parallel to 4-year undergraduate colleges and universities, employing a textbook endorsed by the College Board.  It incorporates interpretive skills, analytical thought, and complex concepts in the study of art through history, politics, geography, culture and economics.  While core knowledge is essential, equally important is the student's ability to employ critical thinking and decision-making.  The course traces major themes throughout the year, spanning the "Stone Age" through the "Rock Age".  There are several key strands and analytical processes that cut across the history of art, including: learning and applying contextual and formal analysis for each era and movement, evaluating the techniques, styles, and design of artists and their works, evaluating relationships between art and religion and culture, and assessing the factors that cause certain art works to become part of the canon of a particular era.  The study of art in the context of history enables students who have studied the events, issues, and phenomena of particular places and eras to apply a different lens and gain a new perspective of their historical understandings.  While the core content and course methods are academic in nature, students are able to appreciate art works for their own aesthetic value and further their own personal interests and independent pursuits of more a comprehensive study of art.   

AP Economics (Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, Grades 11-12)

This rigorous course is designed and taught at a level parallel to 4-year undergraduate colleges and universities, employing a textbook endorsed by the College Board.  It incorporates interpretive skills, analytical thought, and complex concepts in the study of economics.  Economic literacy in microeconomics and macroeconomics is the foundation for this course, as students understand and evaluate the market economy.  However, the course orientation, while applicable to a multidisciplinary study, focuses on citizenship and social studies education.  Within a market economy, students learn advanced analysis in supply and demand to examine various roles between consumers, producers, and governments.  The national and global economy become the context for macroeconomics, as students apply individual and aggregate tools to measure economic welfare and evaluate the decisions made by economic leaders and institutions. 

AP European History (Grades 11-12)

This rigorous course is designed and taught at a level parallel to 4-year undergraduate colleges and universities, employing a textbook endorsed by the College Board.  It incorporates interpretive skills, analytical thought, and complex concepts in the study of European history by examining the politics, geography, culture and economics of various time periods.  The course, covering the 1400s through the present, will trace major themes throughout the year emphasizing the ways in which European history is interconnected, complex, and dynamic.  These themes include: the purpose of government and its relationship to the people; a constant tension between liberty and authoritarianism; the production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services in various economic systems; the role of geography in influencing demographics, migration, and economic activity; and the extent to which social forces and culture both reflect society and cause change to occur.  These themes are designed to encourage students to think conceptually about the past and to focus on historical changes over time, building on their previous understandings of European history achieved in other social studies courses. 

AP Government and Politics (U.S., Grades 11-12)

This rigorous course is designed and taught at a level parallel to 4-year undergraduate colleges and universities, employing a textbook endorsed by the College Board.  It incorporates interpretive skills, analytical thought, and complex concepts in the study of U.S. government and politics.  A theoretical analysis of key concepts from early U.S. history is salient to appreciate and apply core philosophical and ideological traditions to later studies.  Building extensive knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and its interpretations enables students to evaluate notions of shared government and citizenship as key democratic foundations.  Investigation of political processes and behaviors are juxtaposed in a contemporary and historical context and demonstrates the complex nature, operations, and interconnectedness of individuals, groups, and institutions contributing to government decision-making. 

AP United States History (Grades 11-12)

This rigorous course is designed and taught at a level parallel to 4-year undergraduate colleges and universities, employing a textbook endorsed by the College Board.  It incorporates analytical thought, research, complex concepts in history, political science, geography, cultural sciences and economics, as well as, major interpretive processes and foundational knowledge.  Although informative knowledge is essential, equally important is the student's ability to employ critical thinking and decision-making.  The course will trace major themes throughout the year emphasizing the ways in which United States history is interconnected, complex, and dynamic.  These themes include: American Diversity, American Identity, Culture, Demographic Changes, Economic Transformations, Environment, Globalization, Politics and Citizenship, Reform, Religion, Slavery and Its Legacies in North America, and War and Diplomacy.  Introduced during the first two components of the social studies course sequence and identified by the College Board as essential to the comprehensive study of United States history, focus on these themes enables students in this course to gain a richer perspective of the socio-cultural fabric of the nation.  Moreover, the themes are designed to encourage students to think conceptually about the past and to focus on historical changes over time. 


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