Course Search 2023-2024

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Upper School History and Social Sciences Curriculum

Mission Statement: By linking the past and present, the Morristown Beard History Department fosters skills essential to the understanding of the human experience, while guiding students on their individual paths to becoming engaged and empathetic global citizens.

The Upper School history program features classroom activities designed to bring history to life, link the past with the present, promote critical thinking and build academic skills. We offer a rigorous and global curriculum of year-long courses and semester electives. Our enthusiastic faculty use a range of teaching materials and methods not only to impart knowledge and understanding, but also to tap into student creativity and encourage active, participatory citizenship. Students learn to value questioning and to be decision-makers; they learn how to conduct research, apply knowledge and express themselves. Teachers emphasize critical thinking and writing, and believe that history can be made rich with drama, triumph, and tragedy, full-blooded characters and lessons learned for the 21st century.

HUMANITIES PROGRAM
The Humanities approach to the study of English and History merges the traditional subject areas of these departments to create a richer and more engaging experience of both literature and history. An integrated Humanities curriculum, organized thematically and global in perspective, allows students to make new and surprising connections among different cultures, works of literature and time periods, while enhancing a common set of critical skills. The Program relies heavily on analytical writing, critical and creative thinking, discussion-driven classes, close reading and oral presentation. It is also a model of cross-disciplinary collaboration for both students and faculty.

HONORS PLACEMENT IN HISTORY COURSES
All Humanities Grade 9 and 10 sections, US History 11: The American Experience, and junior-senior Humanities History electives will employ the Earned Honors model, which allows any student to earn honors status for the course by meeting a set of clearly defined criteria. Click here for a full description of the process. Constitutional Law, Human Rights in Latin America, and Microeconomics are honors level electives requiring teacher recommendation and instructor approval for enrollment. Junior-Senior Social Science electives do not employ the Earned Honors model.


Full Year Courses

Humanities History 9

Instructor: History Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Required

Open to students in the following grades: 9

Full Year Course

Providing a dynamic framework for the study of English and History, the ninth-grade humanities course encourages exploration of key themes in world history (from prehistoric times to the late 18th century, with connections made to current events), literature, politics, religion, art, and music. The course examines the changing nature of cultural values and the relationship between communities and the individual. As ninth-graders explore how people of the past made moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of their worlds, they will hone their own skills as critical and creative readers, thinkers, and writers. Humanities History 9 is an Earned Honors course.

Humanities History 10

Instructor: History Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Required

Open to students in the following grades: 10

Full Year Course

Providing a dynamic framework for the study of English and History, this course encourages exploration of key themes in world history (from the late 18th through the 20th century, including current events), literature, politics, religion, art, and music. In particular, the course examines the changing nature of cultural values and the relationship between communities and the individual. As students explore how individuals have made moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of their worlds, they hone skills as critical and creative readers, thinkers, and writers. Students continue to develop skills in writing analytical essays, and emphasis is placed on techniques of close reading that encourage the discovery and use of textual evidence capable of promoting arguments of increasing sophistication and insight. Humanities History 10 is an Earned Honors course.

US History 11: The American Experience

Instructor: History Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Required

Open to students in the following grades: 11

Full Year Course

Providing a dynamic framework for the study of American history from the Pre-Columbian period to the present, this year-long course encourages exploration of key themes in American history, prose, poetry, drama, politics, religion, art, and music. In particular, the course examines the changing nature of American cultural values and the relationship between communities and the individual, in the United States itself and the world at large. As students explore how Americans have made moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of their experience, they hone skills as critical and creative readers, thinkers, and writers. As well as continuing to develop skills in writing analytical essays, students are expected to work independently as they originate, frame, and execute distinctive points of view. For this reason, the “Moments that Changed America” capstone essay requires that students write an extended essay on a topic that they identify using multiple sources. US History 11: The American Experience is an Earned Honors course.

Full Year Advanced Courses

Note on Advanced Placement and Advanced Studies courses: Standardized Advanced Placement as well as faculty-designed Advanced Studies courses are equivalent in rigor and commitment to a course usually taken during the first year of college. Students may be expected to complete pre-course summer work, and should expect additional time commitments throughout the year. All AP students are required to take the Advanced Placement exam in May; no standardized test is required of Advanced Studies courses. Enrollment in Advanced Level Courses is based on high performance in the previous year’s history course and the successful completion of a course specific placement process.

AP United States History

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Honors in Humanities History 10
High performance in previous year’s history course; successful completion of placement exam and essay

Open to students in the following grades: 11

Full Year Course

This course is a study of U.S. history from the colonial period to the present. Although emphasis is placed on essay writing, students engage in a wide range of learning activities that assume introductory college level reading and writing skills. In class discussion and written evaluations, high priority is placed on development of critical thinking skills. This course includes preparation for the Advanced Placement exam in May.

Advanced Studies: Perspectives on American History

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: High performance in previous year’s history course
Earning Honors in 10th Grade Humanities History
Successful completion of placement exam and essay

Open to students in the following grades: 11

Full Year Course

In this college level, seminar-style course students will explore American history through a variety of lenses—democracy, economics, gender, race, and imperialism. Each quarter, students will examine the historiography of a specific sub-field and assess its merits and the limits to the perspective. Through this, students will actively assess American history in much the same way as professional historians and leading intellectuals. We will focus on how historians construct the past from a variety of sources, as well as the secondary literature dealing with select approaches to studying American history. To succeed in this class, students will need to read complex historical arguments and actively participate in class discussions.

AP European History

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: High performance in previous year’s history course; successful completion of placement exam and essay

Open to students in the following grades: 12

Full Year Course

This course, a study of European history since 1450, introduces students to major cultural, economic, political and social developments that have shaped modern Europe. In addition to grasping the basic narrative of events and movements, students will analyze historical evidence and express historical understanding in writing. Students must take the AP Exam in May in order to receive course credit.

Advanced Studies: A History of Western Ideas

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: High performance in previous year’s history course; successful completion of placement exam and instructor interview

Open to students in the following grades: 12

Full Year Course

This college-level, discussion-driven AS course will introduce students to the significant and transformative ideas that have shaped the last five hundred years of Western Civilization. Students will read and discuss a variety of primary and secondary source texts to explore these ideas in depth and examine the influence they had on their respective times. The course will focus on a different theme each quarter: Humanism, The Enlightenment, Ideology, and Modernism. Students will explore the impact of each historical category on politics, economics, society, and culture. Each quarter will also feature a historiographical assignment that will challenge students to assess writings of historians as well as to debate commonly accepted historical interpretations. Strong interest and skills in reading and writing as well as consistent engagement will be necessary for success in this class.

Advanced Studies: 20th Century Global History

Instructor: Department staff

Prerequisites: High performance in previous year's history course; successful completion of placement exam and essay.

Open to students in the following grades: 12

Full Year Course

This Advanced Studies course explores influential ideologies of the 20th century and their connections to contemporary global themes, such as nationalism, conflict, and economic development. Students will apply historical methodologies while investigating a variety of sources, such as government documents, memoirs, literature, and plays to understand the 20th century through the eyes of those who experienced it. Writing concentrates on critical analysis, assessment, and original thinking regarding historical interpretations. In order to succeed in this class, students must bring consistent engagement, a strong interest in 20th century global history, and highly developed skills in reading and writing.

Honors-level electives (Fall Semester and Spring Semester)

The following semester-long electives are offered at the Honors level. Students must have earned Honors in 11th grade history or else receive Departmental Recommendation for placement in the courses.

Constitutional Law (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Departmental recommendation

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

This honors course involves study of selected cases in the history of the United States Supreme Court, dealing with issues such as freedom of speech, press, and religion, race relations, the right to privacy, the rights of accused criminals, separation of powers and federalism. Students will gain insight into the effects of the Constitution and its interpretation on our daily lives.

History of Non-Western Science (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

Think of science and what comes to mind? People from Aristarchus to Galileo to Newton to Darwin to Einstein; ideas like a heliocentric model, the periodic table, cells, evolution. But peoples from the dawn of humankind have tried to make sense of their world, to invoke patterns, to make predictions, to achieve understanding—and peoples outside of Western cultures have contributed to this fundamentally human development. Our journey in this course takes us to other cultures and other eras to understand how peoples have made sense of their world—and to consider how this enables us to appreciate other cultures and values.

History of Art in the Early Modern World (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

This semester-long course will examine the ways in which studying art from the past leads to new perspectives about and understanding of the cultures that created them. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we will study art from the early modern period – approximately 1400 through 1900. You will interact with the material through critical readings, analytical writings, oral presentations, and discussions.

Human Rights in Latin America (H)

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11,12

Spring Semester

This course will aim to provide students with an overview of human rights issues (e.g., political, social, cultural and economic rights) and how they have evolved in Latin American. We will examine human rights from Mexico to Central America, the Caribbean, through South America. We will explore indigenous rights movements, dictatorships and coups, women rights, child labor, government corruption, and immigration. The specific human rights of certain groups (indigenous, women, children) will be reviewed and the violations of human rights both culturally and structurally and what is currently being done to protect the vulnerable. Our goal is to promote respect of human rights and see the role we play as becoming socially aware and understand the role we have while building relationships across cultures and acting responsibly both to one another and the environment.

Behavioral Economics (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

Why is it so hard to hail a cab in the rain in New York City? Why do some people pay for annual gym memberships when they would save on a pay-as-you go basis? Why are monetary incentives generally unsuccessful in motivating workers? Behavioral economics helps us to understand why what happens in the world does not jive with classical economic theory: Why aren’t we as humans the textbook “Homo economicus”? Behavioral economics applies ideas from the social sciences to economics to help us understand better how we act, make decisions, and play—and has far-reaching implications for social dynamics and public policy. Behavioral economics is of driving current interest, and important contributions have been recognized by recent Nobel prizes (Daniel Kahneman in 2002 and Richard Thaler in 2017).

Microeconomics (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Departmental recommendation

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

Building upon the fundamentals of microeconomics, this honors-level elective examines microeconomic concepts and analysis, supply and demand analysis, theories of the firm and individual behavior, competition and monopoly, and welfare economics. Throughout the semester students will use microeconomic applications to address problems in current economic policy. The course is open to juniors and seniors. Students are responsible for basic and supplemental readings, will complete problem sets based on each topic of study prior to class time, and will deliver presentations on a variety of topics.

Fundamentals of Psychology (H) (full year; also listed in Wellness)

Instructor: Katie Cannito

Enrollment limited to: 18

Prerequisites: Application and interview with course instructors.

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Full Year Course

This course introduces students to the systematic and scientific study of human cognition and behavior. While considering the psychologists and studies that have shaped the field, students explore and apply psychological theories, key concepts in the areas of the biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, learning and cognition, developmental psychology, and treatments of psychological disorders. Students study psychological research methods throughout the course, including ethical considerations, as they evaluate claims and evidence and effectively communicate ideas. This is an high-level course that will require strong reading and writing skills. Students will have the option at the end of the course to take the AP-Advanced Placement exam. Interested students will need to submit an application and interview with the course instructors prior to admission.

Humanities History Electives (Fall)

The following semester-long electives have a strong emphasis in the methods and emphases of the Humanities. All Humanities Electives are Earned Honors classes.

Continuity and Change in the Middle East

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

This course examines the history of the Middle East with a focus on the 20th and early 21st Century. Themes include the rise and influence of Islam, nationalism, westernization, imperialism and democracy. U.S. involvement in the region over the past half century, as well as major figures and events that have made the region so volatile will also be discussed. Social, cultural and economic developments are integrated throughout the course.
This course is Earned Honors.

History of Ancient Greece

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Fall Semester

Learn about the rich and varied history and culture of Ancient Greece, from its beginnings in the palace cultures of the Archaic Age to its final fall at the hands of the Rome. Students will read texts by Ancient Greek poets, philosophers, dramatists, and historians, as well as contemporary interpretations of the Ancient World. They will learn about Greek city-states, military conflicts, ideals, and the Greek understanding of the non-Greek World. Students will write analytically and present on their findings, arguments, and interpretations.
This course is earned honors

The Rest is Noise (Part 1): A History of Music 1900-1950 (also listed in Performing Arts)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Fall Semester

This course will introduce students to music written in the midst of the turbulent politics, wars, and revolutionary movements of the twentieth century. Exploring the immense changes in musical style that characterize this period, this course will examine the important cultural, political, and social shifts that inspired and shaped such diverse music. We will be guided by Alex Ross’ bestseller, “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.” Students will be assessed by formal essays and presentations, with opportunities for creative responses to the music we encounter. This course is Earned Honors.

This is first part of a two part course. Students can take both semesters or either fall (music 1900-1950) or spring (1950-2000) as a standalone semester. The course is cross-listed with Performance Arts.

Humanities History Electives (Spring)

African History

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

This course explores key developments in African history, from earliest times to the present day. We will look at the political, social, and cultural history of Africa, exploring major historical processes and events that shaped and continue to reshape the continent. Africa’s engagement with the larger world will be the focus throughout. The course, which is structured around short readings to foster discussions and inquiry is divided into four broad parts: The Geography and Peoples of Africa, Ancient and Classical African Civilizations, Early Modern Africa, and Africa since 1850.
This course is Earned Honors.

History of Ancient Rome

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10, 11, 12

Spring Semester

Learn about the history of Ancient Rome, from its beginnings as small Italian monarchy, its emergence as a dominant Republic, and its eventual status as an Empire spanning continents. We will explore the ideals and virtues that sustained Rome, Rome's shifting self-image, the social structure of Roman society, Rome's relationship to Ancient Greece, and the various sources of Rome's slow decline. Students will be expected to read primary and secondary sources, to write analytically, and to present.
This course is earned honors

The Rest is Noise (Part 2): A History of Music 1950-2000 (also listed in Performing Arts)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 10,11,12

Spring Semester

This course will introduce students to music written in the midst of the turbulent politics, wars, and revolutionary movements of the twentieth century. Exploring the immense changes in musical style that characterize this period, this course will examine the important cultural, political, and social shifts that inspired and shaped such diverse music. We will be guided by Alex Ross’ bestseller, “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.” Students will be assessed by formal essays and presentations, with opportunities for creative responses to the music we encounter.
This course is Earned Honors.

This is second part of a two part course. Students can take both semesters or either fall (music 1900-1950) or spring (1950-2000) as a standalone semester. The course is cross-listed with Performance Arts.

Social Science Electives

The following semester-long electives are centered on methods and emphases of the social sciences. There is no Earned Honors option in the following electives.

The Sociology of Diversity

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

This course will address the multiple and intersecting ways ethnicity, class, and gender shape society, individual life-chances, and daily social interactions. Studying the “socially-constructed” nature of these concepts, we will ask what meanings and values have been attached to them and inquire into the ways they help rationalize and justify social inequality. We will also discuss the role race, class, gender, and sexuality will play in the future, evaluating solutions to social inequality and strategies for social change. This course is not Earned Honors.

Criminology Studies

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

This course will serve as a general introduction to the academic study of criminology and justice. This course will focus on the sociological background of the field of criminology as well as current real world issues in the justice system of the United States. In addition to learning the basic theories and philosophies of the social science of criminology, the class will foster a stronger understanding of how race, class, and gender impact the way an individual moves through the American system of justice. This course is not Earned Honors.

Diversity and Public Policy

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

In this class we will investigate and analyze public policies that marginalize groups based on ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and class. Our study will examine how public policy creates and reinforces institutionalized discrimination. We will consider the question: How can law change the ways ethnicity, gender, sexual identity and class shape contemporary social justice in America? This course is not Earned Honors.

The Living Constitution

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

In this course students will study the origins of our Constitution and how it has adapted to changing times. The class will study both the early years of the American republic and more contemporary issues of government and politics, including the roles of the media and interest groups. Featured aspects of the course are landmark cases in federalism, national security, civil rights and criminal law; the separation of powers and their historical evolution are also covered. This course is not Earned Honors.

Economics

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: None

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

This course covers the basic concepts of the field beginning with microeconomics (the study of individual consumer and firm behavior) followed by an introduction to macroeconomics (the study of the economy as a whole, especially issues related to output, unemployment, productivity, inflation, growth, and globalization). Every day, politicians and "experts" present claims about the economy and proposals to cure its alleged ills. This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the economy to help assess the merits and pitfalls of economic arguments. This course is not Earned Honors.