Where did we come from? What causes change? Where are we heading? Big History takes on these questions that originate with the dawn of time, and gives students a framework to tell the story of humanity’s place in the Universe. It’s more than a history course. Big History helps students see the overall picture and make sense of the pieces: it looks at the past from the Big Bang to modernity, seeking out common themes and patterns that can help us better understand people, civilizations, and the world we live in. Big History arose from a desire to transcend traditional self-contained fields of study and grasp history as a whole, looking for linked ideas and connections across history’s entire spectrum. By teaching students to explore these connections, and to effectively question, analyze and postulate, it provides a foundation for thinking not only about the past, but also the future and the changes that are reshaping our world. Throughout, students encounter challenging ideas and questions and learn to connect ideas across 13.8 billion years of time and an array of disciplines.
The course asks students to thoughtfully and rigorously engage with the claims they encounter along the way.
US History or AP US History
Through investigation and corroboration of evidence, students examine the major turning points in American History from the Industrial Revolution through the twenty-first century. The year begins with a review of the colonies and the American Revolution, westward expansion, the Civil War and Reconstruction. Emphasis should be placed on the expanding role of the federal governments and the federal courts; the balance of power between the right of the individual and state rights; and the continuing struggle between minority rights and majority power. Importance should also be placed on the emergence of a global economy, the impact of technology on American society and culture, the movements toward equal rights for racial minorities and women, and the role of the United States as a major world power. Students in this course will be expected to analyze complex secondary and primary sources, as well as write argumentative essays. The culminating activity for the course is an American History Civics Inquiry Project wherein students research an American History Project and engage in a related community action.
AP US History
The Advanced Placement US History course is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in US History. The course prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands upon theme equivalent to those made by full-year introductory college courses. Students should learn to assess historical materials-their relevance to a given interpretive problem, reliability and importance-and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. An Advanced Placement US History course should thus develop the skills necessary to arrive at conclusions on the basis of an History course thus develop the skills necessary to arrive at conclusions on the basis of an informed judgment and to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively in essay format.
Government/Economics or Economics/AP Government
This course is the culmination of the civic literacy strand of history-social studies that prepares students to vote, and to be informed, skilled, and engaged participants in civic life. As this course progresses, students will learn about the responsibilities they have or will soon have as voting members of an informed electorate. They’ll learn about the benefits to democracy of an electorate willing to compromise, practice genuine tolerance and respect of others, and actively engage in an ethical and civil society. They’ll discover that all citizens have the power to elect and change their representatives —a power protected by free speech, thought, and assembly guarantees. They’ll learn that all citizens deserve equal treatment under the law, safe-guarded from arbitrary or discriminatory treatment by the government. Students will review how these elements developed over our history, such as the broadening of the franchise from white males with property, to all white males, then men and women of color, and finally, 1821 year olds. Students will learn how our government works and how it is different from other systems of governance. Students will examine both the constitutional basis for and current examples of the fact that members of the government are themselves subject to the law and they’ll learn about the vital importance of an independent judiciary. They will compare our democratic system with authoritarian regimes of the past and today to understand the unique nature of our Constitutional democracy. Finally, students will conclude their study of American government with a study of both historical and modern problems of American democracy.
Economics is the study of how people choose to use resources. It is also a discipline that analyzes how to promote productive economic activity such as entrepreneurship, education and government investment in
infrastructure and research; it studies how to promote full employment, fair wage growth, and return on capital; it explores how to avoid financial dislocations and predatory business practices; and it argues how best to provide basic safety-net supports such as retirement for each citizen. The resources people use are land, labor, and capital; these resources are finite, or what some people call scarce. The study of twelfth-grade economics provides students with a unique opportunity to consider the impact of choice upon individuals, groups, and institutions. It offers a lens to understand and analyze human behavior and it builds a student’s ability to make informed decisions based upon relevant economic information such as: an analysis of costs and benefits; the trade-offs between consumption, investment, and savings; the availability and allocation of natural resources; the distribution of resources among investors, managers, workers, and innovation; the role of the government in supporting, taxing, and investing in industries; and human and physical capital. The discipline also provides an important frame from which to consider the impact of governmental action (or inaction) on the lives of its citizens. Understanding how the economy functions and how economic reasoning can inform decision making will provide students with the tools they need to become financially literate and independent.
The Advanced Placement Psychology course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles and phenomena associated with each of the major sub-fields within psychology. They also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.