Seven semesters required

All students are required to take seven semesters of social studies. The required courses include: global studies (9th grade), world history (10th grade), United States history (11th grade), government (12th grade), and one social studies elective course (12th grade).

[Unless otherwise noted, all academic courses in this department meet both CSU and UC entrance requirements]

College Prep Classes

Honors & AP Classes

Electives

#1506 GLOBAL STUDIES
5 credits - Grade 9
Prerequisite: None       

This semester class will focus on themes of geography and its affect on major regions of the world. Global and regional issues will be examined in the following areas: Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and South and East Asia through the use of case studies. Students will study these areas through the five major geographic themes: physical and human geography, region, movement, and human-environmental interaction.  Special attention will be given to the issue of human rights in contemporary societies around the world.  This course will provide a foundation for the 10th grade World History course. Important skills will be introduced and reinforced throughout the semester, such as study and test taking skills, writing, critical thinking, listening and reading comprehension.

#1510 MODERN WORLD HISTORY
10 credits - Grade 10     
Prerequisite: None 
Fees will be collected for field trips

This one-year required course will explore the themes of modern world history with emphasis on the period from the 600s to the present day incorporating themes from the Facing History program and curriculum.  Using case studies from different regions of the world, students will study the impact of science, religion, culture, revolution, nationalism, and democracy on the human condition throughout history.  Cross-curricular connections will be made throughout the year through assessments and discussions with Religious Studies and English courses.  During the second semester an in-depth study of events leading to and following World War II as well as the Holocaust will be conducted.  Historical events are connected to the present day condition of the world.  Diverse instructional methods are used in class including discussions, lectures, group activities, simulations, and individual reading.  Student assessment will be varied but can include tests, group and individual projects, quizzes, and homework.  As a result, students will develop writing, critical thinking, reading comprehension, study, and note taking skills.

#1520 MODERN U. S. HISTORY
10 credits - Grade 11
Prerequisite: None 
Fees will be collected for field trips      

In this class, students will study the major themes in United States History in the twentieth century.  Following a review of the nation’s beginnings, students will seek to understand the people and events that led to the emergence of the United States as a modern nation.  Students will consider the major social and political movements which continue to shape the country.  Students will evaluate past events with regard to ethical and moral criteria and their impact on life in the United States today.  The class will challenge students to critically examine the country’s history and its influence on contemporary society nationally and internationally.

#1500 U. S. GOVERNMENT
5 credits - Grade 12 
Prerequisite: None   
Fees will be collected for field trips    

This one semester course examines the development of the U.S. system of government and how the process works today.  Students will examine the foundational documents and principles of our government.  Careful study of the three branches of the federal government will incorporate current events to illustrate how each institution works and interacts.  Students will explore the political process to see how citizens can participate in civics through individual action, interest groups, and political parties.  Moreover, students will trace the evolution of civil rights and liberties and how they are protected and challenged today. Students not only explore how the governmental system works, but how to be active citizens who are involved in the process and in their communities. Students will engage in debates, writing assignments, group work and independent research.

Honors Program

Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Social Studies

Course being applied for: Grades must be maintained throughout the year. An application is needed from all students

Global Studies Honors

World History AP

U.S. History AP

U.S. Government and Politics AP

There is no assessment process for Global Studies Honors course entrance is based on HSPT test scores.

A 3.0 in Global Studies Honors or a 3.5 in Global Studies is needed to apply for World History AP.

In required Social Studies courses a minimum grade of C in an AP course is needed to move into another AP Social Studies course.

Humanities (English courses, Social Studies elective courses, Philosophy) a GPA of at least 3.3

Teacher recommendations from English and Social Studies may be requested for review.

Counseling feedback will be collected.

Standardized test scores will be consulted.

An entrance exam for each class will be conducted for those students not currently enrolled in an AP or honors class. These exams will assess critical thinking and analysis skills of the students.

AP Psychology Priority is given to seniors. A 3.3 overall GPA is required to apply.

#1507 GLOBAL STUDIES
5 credits - Grade 9 
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Social Studies
UC/CSU Approval pending  

The content of this course is similar to the Global Studies course.  The depth of study in each area provides more critical analysis and the pace will be accelerated.  College level texts will be incorporated as well as primary sources.

#1515  WORLD HISTORY AP - INTRODUCTION TO ADVANCED PLACEMENT
10 credits - Grade 10 
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Social Studies
Fee: Advanced Placement Exam; Fees will be collected for field trips

This course will focus on a greater understanding of the global processes and interactions with different human societies primarily from 500 CE to present day. Through a combination of content reading, AP writing and analytical skill work, this course is advanced. The course highlights the nature of changes in international frameworks and discusses their causes and consequences. In addition, comparisons among major societies will be discussed. The long-term objective is for students to demonstrate a clear understanding of how the big picture of world history helps in understanding the complexities of today’s world. College credit may be awarded for passing the exam in May.

#1530 U. S. HISTORY AP
10 credits - Grade 11 
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Social Studies
Fee: Advanced Placement Exam; Fees will be collected for field trips     

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. The student will 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 a written format. Extensive reading and writing is required and additional class meetings outside of regular hours (after school, Saturdays, over spring break) may be required. The AP U.S. history exam will be taken in lieu of the second semester final exam. If a student chooses not to take the AP exam, she will be required to take the second semester final.

#1545 U. S. GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS AP
5 credits - Grade 12     
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Social Studies 
Fee: Advanced Placement Exam; Fees will be collected for field trips  

The Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics program is designed to teach U.S. constitutional government based on principles of philosophy, political beliefs and behavior, political parties and interest groups, national institutions and policy processes, and law. Emphasis is given to the relationship of the citizen to the structure and function of the American constitutional system.  This course is designed to enable students to develop a critical perspective of government and politics in the United States. AP Government and Politics is a highly structured, very demanding college-level course. Students are required not only to read thoroughly the college-level text, but also to augment this material through research and reading of supplemental articles and then critically apply the findings to the political nature of current governmental policies and analyze the ramifications of these policies.

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#1550 SOUTH AFRICA: APARTHEID, POST-APARTHEID $ RESTORATIVE JUSTICE                  

Prerequisite: none
Does not meet UC/CSU requirement
Fee: The cost of the trip will be the responsibility of the participant--cost range $

This independent study project is based on the study of Apartheid, Post-apartheid and Restorative Justice in South Africa. Prior to the trip, students will read and discuss excerpts from a variety of texts including Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Country of My Skull by Antjie Krog, I Write What I Like by Steve Biko, and Good Morning Mr. Mandela by Zelda la Grange. These texts will be explored in regards to their messages around Apartheid and Restorative Justice.   Students will experience works of art, poetry, literature and guest speakers that reflect a particular movement or political event related to apartheid and restorative justice, as well as the current situation in Post-apartheid South Africa and be expected to reflect on these experiences in a journal format. The culminating project will involve the creation of a visual presentation to be displayed at ND that best addresses the following essential question: Was Restorative Justice successful in South Africa?This is a 10 day trip to South Africa supported by Notre Dame curriculum and constructed by Notre Dame teachers. The trip will be chaperoned by 2-3 Notre Dame Teachers. The itinerary may vary year to year, however our primary area of stay will be in Johannesburg and Durban.  This course will be offered every other year.

  • Who benefitted from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Restorative Justice) and why?

  • Describe a current issue in South Africa that is the result of Apartheid and Post-Apartheid politics. How have the historical legacies of Apartheid affected these issues and the lives of South Africans today?

  • In order to establish a community where equal rights can become a reality, what political, social, and economic changes do you think need to occur in South Africa in the future?

12th Grade Elective Courses

All 12th grade students must take one social studies elective course in addition to the required government course.

#1502 AP PSYCHOLOGY (yearlong course)
10 credits - Grade 12
Prerequisite: see Prerequisites for Honors Courses in Social Studies 
Fee: Advanced Placement Exam; Fees will be collected for field trips  

AP Psychology is a yearlong course that will introduce students to the systematic, scientific study of mental processes as well as the behavior of humans and animals. Students will be exposed to the science of psychology, as well as the role of the brain and nervous system in regards to the emotions, cognitions and behavior of an organism. In addition, the course will include the study of sleep, learning, memory, intelligence, motivation and emotion. Students will also study developmental psychology, personality theories, anxiety and mood disorders and their treatment. The course will also include the study of ethics and methods psychologists utilize within their science and practice. College credit may be awarded for passing the exam in May.

#1503 ECONOMICS
5 credits - Grade 12 
Prerequisite: None 
Fees will be collected for field trips  

Why does the price of gasoline rise and fall? Why are businesses constantly introducing new products and services? Why do workers with more education and experience usually earn more money than high school students? Should the government raise taxes or lower them when the economy is in trouble? This course will explore these questions and many others. The course is a one-semester course designed to give the student a broad overview of basic economic principles, theories and practices. The student will evaluate the role of government, business, labor and the consumer in a market economy. Special emphasis will be given to economic interdependence, the emergence of the global economy and its effects. In addition, “life economic skills” like resume writing, do’s and don’ts of job interviewing, creating a personal budget, how to shop for insurance, and credit will be addressed.

#1505 CONFLICT IN THE MODERN WORLD 
5 credits - Grade 12     
Prerequisite: None
Fees will be collected for field trips

Conflict in the Modern World offers the student the opportunity to examine the causes of conflict in the world today by studying the roles of culture, ethnicity, and ideology.  We strive to understand the root causes of some of the conflicts in our world today by analyzing geography (political and physical), history, economics, politics, and culture of selected nations.  Students will be assessed in a variety of ways particularly: in class writings, papers, individual and group presentations and class participation. Since it is a seminar class, and large and small group discussions make up a large portion of the class time, active student participation is a priority.  

#1508 CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL ISSUES: RACE, GENDER AND ETHNICITY ISSUES
5 credits - Grade 12 
Prerequisite: None   
Fees will be collected for field trips

This is an interdisciplinary semester course that will examine the changing demographics, communities, institutions and values of American society. Students will grapple with questions of identity and membership in the United States.

  • What shaped individual identity formation?
  • What institutional and individual factors contribute to the construction of American identity?
  • Is equity and justice granted to all living in America?
  • What rights and privileges are given to members of American society?

These questions will be explored through the lenses of gender, race, immigration, sexual orientation, and physical abilities. Students will consider how these characteristics shape the identities of individuals as well as influence the community dynamics and decision-making. The class uses an interdisciplinary approach which will incorporate perspectives of history, literature, sociology, anthropology, and politics.