Students are required to take three years of History; they must take World History in Ninth Grade and U.S. History or AP U.S. History in Tenth Grade. For the Eleventh and Twelfth Grade history studies, they may choose any combination of semester courses or a full-year course to meet the graduation requirement.
Modern World History
This course surveys major events in world history from the Industrial Revolution to the present. Using essential questions to guide them, students hone critical thinking and analytical skills as they assess the impact of historical events and ideas, while making significant connections to contemporary society. Classes vary from day to day and include cooperative activities, primary source analysis, current event discussions, debates, presentations, documentary clips, art history, PowerPoints, and literary analysis. Emphasis is placed on helping students develop sound research skills.
United States History
This course surveys American history from the pre-Revolutionary era to the current day and focuses on overarching themes, essential questions and historical analysis. Students develop important skills in historical thinking and research and consider essential questions such as “What is the meaning of the American Dream?” Students complete several projects during the year. For their National History Day projects, students create exhibits, documentaries and performances around a theme such as “Leadership and Legacy.” Students hone their research skills by writing a short research paper on an historical figure from the Civil War era. In the Roundtable assignment, students assume the persona of an early twentieth century historical figure and debate issues such as the proper role of government in a democratic society.
AP U.S. History
APUSH is a yearlong survey of U.S. History from its indigenous roots in Native American culture and their encounter with peoples from Europe and Africa to its multicultural present in the 21st century. The course focuses on two foundational essential questions: “Who counts as an American and what has that meant to generations of Americans?” and “What is the place of freedom in the American scheme of values and how have those understandings shaped the course of American history?” Based on a close reading of many voices through primary documents and a careful study of a demanding college textbook, students will master the core content and develop a deeper understanding of the contested scholarly interpretations of the meaning and significance of the major issues in American history. This course places especially heavy emphasis in developing the students’ skills of critical reading and analytical writing at the college level.
AP Art History
In this course, students study works of architecture, sculpture, and painting from Prehistory through the 21st century and consider the function and power of art in a variety of societies and religions from around the world. Students acquire the tools to examine a work of art, the vocabulary and analytic methods with which to discuss it, and the historical context in which it was created. Students also learn about the artistic process, and consider the role of medium and the artist in stylistic development. Assessments throughout the year include weekly quizzes, unit exams, essays, research projects on individual works of art, and a multi-modal Thematic Museum project.
KAP European History
The KAP European History course is a rigorous, college-level course for students who want to explore European history in depth. The course begins with a close look at Machiavelli’s, The Prince, which sets the stage for an examination of the uses and abuses of power in the modern world, especially the 20th century. This is a reading-intensive course that also emphasizes essay writing, culminating in a major research essay in the spring. This is a newly revised course for the 2017-18 academic year that will focus on close reading of texts and will not be geared towards preparation for the AP Exam.
Prerequisite: departmental recommendation and acceptance of the student’s KAP application by the US Office and Kenyon College
American Government and Policy
With the election of 2016, politics and government in America took a surprising new direction. Donald Trump--one of the unlikeliest candidates ever to run for president--was elected. What new policies will Trump pursue? What effect will this have on our futures? To answer questions like these, we need to understand the structure, meaning, and purpose of government. We need to become knowledgeable about the institutions, branches, powers, and procedures of the government. This course will provide you with a roadmap by which to follow and comprehend the challenges and realities facing our society. In addition, we will explore some of the key issues that divide our country. This is the policy part of the course. Some of the domestic and foreign policy issues we will examine will include: inequality in America and the persistence of poverty in the wealthiest nation in the world; the fairness of the criminal justice system, including policing and incarceration; the effects of the decades old “war on drugs” and the recent shift in popular views; the extent of the government’s power to fight terrorism and the tension with our right to privacy; is there a right to health care and who should provide it? Is immigration, on balance good for America, and how should we approach the issue of undocumented residents? What role should the U.S. have in the world? How should we act toward other countries, especially China, Russia, Europe, and the Mideast? How serious is the issue of global climate change and what should the U.S. do to deal with it? The course will examine these issues through a series of class discussions, debates, videos, and speakers. Work in the course will culminate with a formal research/position paper based on an issue selected by each student. Research will require interviews with experts on the student’s chosen topic.
The Roots of African American History (second semester, .5 credit)
This elective provides an introduction to African American History, focusing on the ways in which black Americans shaped culture, politics, and art between 1820 and the present. Prominent themes include the world African American made as enslaved people, the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction, Jim Crow era policies and practices, African American urbanization and migration, the Civil Rights movement (1954-present), and the thought and leadership of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Angela Davis, Malcolm X and bell hooks (among others).
South Africa: From Apartheid to Democracy (offered each semester, .5 credit)
This interdisciplinary course explores the complicated history and diverse culture of South Africa. Students deduce the causes and consequences of the institutionalized segregation of races that defined much of 20th-century South Africa, examining apartheid’s origin, its impact on both perpetrators and victims and the manner by which it was dismantled by anti-apartheid forces. A variety of sources, approaches and media—including film clips, contemporary music, works of art, guest speakers, debates and cooperative activities—foster student engagement and interest. Even as they grapple with the moral and ethical issues of the period, students also hone their writing and critical thinking skills. Presentations on the international response to apartheid and a podcast on a contemporary issue in South Africa offer opportunities for collaboration and authentic audience, while a document-based paper requires students to analyze primary sources and to develop an analytical thesis supported by effective evidence.
Themes in History: Money and Revolutions (first semester, .5 credit)
Using a wide variety of sources (historical sources, literature, art, music, popular culture), this course uses as focal points two prominent themes of human history: money and revolution. Students examine how money and revolution impact history and work to draw connections between the themes as they participate in class discussions, examine current events, contribute to group work and complete assessments and a research project. The themes drive this course, not a historical era; therefore, the coursework focuses on relevant, specific moments across the canvas of history. Combining the use of sources with contextual research, students work to understand how money and revolution shaped particular events as well as influenced the unfolding of history into the modern day.
Women in the World (first semester, .5 credit)
This elective explores gender (namely femininity) across cultures and nations, focusing on 1945 to the present. We will address feminism, womanism, and articulations of gender activism in the U.S. and throughout the world. Prominent themes include the body and autonomy/oppression, economic disparity, global capitalism and its effect on women, and women as agents of political resistance and power. Finally, students taking Women in the World will conduct primary and secondary source research on a notable woman who live(d/s) and work(ed/s) outside of the U.S.
The World’s Religions (second semester, .5 credit)
After offering a broad overview of the history of seven major religions or belief systems—Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity—this course encourages students to examine how religions (and the institutions, philosophies and expectations therein) impact societies and individuals throughout history. Using class discussions, research, analytical writing and personal reflection, this course emphasizes the comparative themes and differences that can be gleaned from a historical lens, the use of which can also give them greater insight into their own religious or spiritual backgrounds and practices. Students examine primary and secondary sources as well as current events to gain a greater understanding of how religions and belief systems shape the world.