Morristown-Beard Upper School Curriculum

Course Search 2019-2020

DepartmentGradeCourse TypeElective
Keywords

 

 

Upper School History Curriculum

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 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 earned honors process.) For the Humanities Grade 11 course, students who have earned honors in Humanities Grade 10 will maintain their honors status for Humanities Grade 11. Junior-Senior elective courses will employ the earned honors model as described above. Enrollment in Advanced Placement Courses and Constitutional Law is by teacher recommendation.


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, 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. The iPad will be used as a tool in the acquisition of these skills, specifically for reading, note taking, and accessing primary and secondary sources.

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 11

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 literature and history from the Colonial 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 Junior Essay is the Capstone Project for the year and requires that students write an extended essay on a topic that they identify using multiple sources.

Humanities History 11H

Instructor: History Department Staff

Prerequisites: Earned Honors in Humanities 10

Open to students in the following grades: 11

Full Year 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 all Advanced courses requires permission of the teacher of record as well as the department chair.

Advanced Studies: A History of Western Ideas

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor and department chair

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 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.

AP United States History

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Honors in Humanities History 10 or 11; teacher recommendation; writing diagnostic

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

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.

AP European History

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Teacher recommendation; writing diagnostic

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.

Semester Electives for Juniors and Seniors

All of the following courses will employ the Earned Honors model. (Click here for a full description of the earned honors process.)

African History

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

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.

The American College Experience

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

What has life been like for American college students throughout history? In this course, students will examine this core question from a variety of historical perspectives. The semester will begin with an overview of the history of colleges and universities before digging into a few key themes. We will examine how student life changed as colleges became less religious and more secular in America. Students in this class will then discover how World War II transformed the college experience for veterans and created the colleges and universities we recognize today. Lastly, we will look at the most recent history of these institutions and focus on how colleges have created a more diverse student body and a more robust social life for today’s students. Each student in this class will complete a research project focused on the student experience at a college of their choice.

China Under Mao Zedong

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

This semester-long history elective explores the tumultuous years when Mao Zedong ruled China (1949-1976). During this time, the country was engulfed in decades of upheaval designed to remake China in Mao’s revolutionary image. Although we will read about the Chairman’s life and his thought, we will focus primarily on life under Mao’s regime and try to understand the tension that still surrounds the memory of that foundational era in Chinese history. This course is reading and writing intensive, as students will be primarily assessed on their analysis of primary sources.

Composers in Context: from Beethoven to "Bang on a Can"

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

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

Offered in the Fall and in the Spring

This listening-intensive course will examine how music is inescapably a product of its time. Students will be introduced to key styles, developments, innovations and trends in the history and evolution of Western concert music. Major composers, from Beethoven to the cutting-edge composer/performers of "Bang on a Can" will be placed in their social and cultural contexts through the use of videos, audio recordings, historical texts, and live performance, when available.
Please note that this course is cross listed with Performing Arts electives.

Constitutional Law (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Admission by teacher 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.

Criminology Studies

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 12

Spring Semester

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.

Diversity and Public Policy

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

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?

Economics

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 12

Fall Semester

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.

Literature of the American Civil War (cross-listed with English)

Instructor: Department staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

The Civil War is the bloodiest and most divisive conflict in American history. The war's legacy looms large, down to the debates last fall over removing Confederate monuments, and to other current issues of race, economics, and politics. We will study the great texts of the era, including Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Red Badge of Courage. A wide range of materials—photographs, political cartoons, diaries, letters, songs, speeches, and sermons—will help us examine how the war was waged on the battlefield and experienced on the home front. As well as regular close reading and analytical writing, the class will involve creative projects, such as recreating a battle scene in miniature and filming an original documentary.
Note: This course will carry one semester of English credit.

The Living Constitution

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

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.

Mass Migration

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

Since millions of people are currently on the move due to military conflicts, environmental destruction, globalization, poor governance, and other adverse conditions, international migration is a pressing political issue. This elective on migration will introduce students to theoretical and empirical research on why and how people emigrate, the impact of immigration on receiving (and sending) countries, and how government policies shape immigrant assimilation. Students will also examine a number of mass migrations throughout world history—such as the spread of Islam through traveling merchants and military action, urban migration during the Industrial Era, and the Syrian refugee crisis—and discuss how they exemplify the research discussed. Students will be assessed through class discussions, reflection papers, and statistical analyses.

Microeconomics (H)

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites: Recommendation of current history teacher and permission of instructor

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.

The Psychology and Philosophy of Religion

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Spring Semester

This course will serve as an introduction to the historical, psychological, and philosophical study of religion. We will examine the fundamental ideas of various religious traditions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism), as well as theological issues that have intrigued humanity for thousands of years. Why do people need religion? Why do different belief systems share the same type of stories? Does the soul exist? What is faith? How far should one be willing to go to prove their devotion? These explorations will strengthen our understanding of the connections between the role of religion and the processes of the human psyche in addition to providing a deeper appreciation of our personal interpretations of spirituality.

Religion and Society

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

Religion impacts the lives of believers and non-believers alike. This course aims to investigate the role of religion in social structures such as economics, government, cultural institutions, and the rituals of everyday life. We will examine the fundamental ideas of various religious traditions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism), as well as the anthropological and sociological issues inherent in religious studies. Our exploration will analyze how the role of religion has changed throughout the course of human history and how it continues to affect us today.

Social Psychology

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 12

Fall Semester

This class will introduce the fundamental principles of psychology and social psychology. Students will learn the personal and social factors which influence their perceptions of the world in which they live. Topics will include sense of self, self-esteem, efficacy and self-concept, fundamental attribution error, values and ethics, prejudice, and aggression. Such topics will be presented in an interactive manner to foster thought and reflection.

The Sociology of Diversity

Instructor: Department Staff

Prerequisites:

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.

US Politics: Beyond 2016

Instructor: Department Staff (team taught)

Prerequisites:

Open to students in the following grades: 11, 12

Fall Semester

In this team-taught course students will learn to understand and analyze the forces and interests—many of which stand in opposition to each other—that occupy the cultural space between a contemporary voter and the actual voting booth. The course will begin with a study of the 2016 election, interpreting polling data, learning the workings of the electoral college and analyzing different forms of media bias. Students will then move to assessing the current political climate through a lens of critical thinking and analysis. In addition to critical reading and writing assignments, the class will produce a podcast that introduces a narrative arc to their understanding of contemporary politics. In the end students will have developed a deeper understanding of the complex landscape of our democracy as well as a greater ability to communicate their understanding to others.