US Social Sciences
The Buckley Department of Social Sciences is committed to imparting a global and historical understanding of humanity to our students. Young people are faced with an ever changing world filled with numerous complex events. Globalization and the information revolution have forced students to directly confront difficult realities. Yet, our students demonstrate time and time again that they are able to comprehend and respond to their world in an informed and respectful manner.
Our Upper School program focuses both traditional history and contemporary understanding of our world. We begin with world history in ninth and tenth grades and move on to United States history in the junior year. An emphasis is placed on using primary sources, taking into account historical interpretations, and critical social science writing. Seniors are given option of taking Social and Political Philosophy and/or Advance Placement United States Government. Finally, our curriculum is complemented with a number fascinating and challenging electives that survey economics, social justice, leadership, and art history.
Ancient World History
In this course students discover the development of human civilization from the Neolithic era to the seventeenth century, including study of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Indian, Chinese, Islamic, and European Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation cultures. Although students address political, social, and intellectual history, the primary focus is on the cultural development of these civilizations; more specifically, developments in spirituality, religion, the arts, and literature. The goal is to experience history from the perspective of those who lived it rather than from the perspective of the teacher, textbook, or student alone. To accomplish this goal, lecture and discussion are supplemented whenever possible with primary source material such as literary texts, myths and stories, hymns, documentary evidence, and actual student experience of history. This course also uses film as a source of information and topics for discussion.
The Ancient World course does not emphasize the memorization of names and dates. Although the facts are important, it is the interpretation and analysis of those facts which are "history" in the proper sense. Students are encouraged to think critically and to analyze, to discover an understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures of the world, and to develop the ability to express their thoughts in well-crafted essays.
Modern World History
What defines the Modern Age? How did it come about? How did it influence the twenty-first century? These are some of the enduring questions with which students of history continue to grapple. This course will seek to reveal the answers to these questions and more. By exploring historical records, we will endeavor to understand the past and gain valuable insight into our future.
The Modern World course covers world history from the l600’s to the present and expands on the intellectual, social, and political concerns presented in traditional western civilization courses. As the focus of the course is modern history, students encounter historical events, ideas, and institutions considered significant to the formation of modern ideals. This survey begins with a critical investigation of the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Age of Revolution. Comparative studies between the countries of Europe and their counterparts in Africa, Asia, and the Americas enliven this inquiry and examine the interrelations among world cultures that exist to this day. More recent periods of industrial development, European imperialism, and world conflict provide still more insight into the advantages and disadvantages of modern thinking. World Wars I and II, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars, and more recent global conflicts provide ammunition for the critical analysis of human accomplishments to date. In addition to covering a basic narrative of events and movements, the goals of this course are to develop an appreciation of principle themes in history, an ability to analyze historical evidence, and a capacity to analyze and express historical understanding in writing.
United States History
The U.S. History course is a two-semester survey of American history from the age of exploration to the present, exploring broad historical themes and controversies. This course is intended to help students understand America’s past and present. It is also meant to help them think historically, that is, to think about human change over time. The course is designed to provide students with the analytic skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in U.S. history. Primary source documents and current periodicals are used to supplement a college-level text.
Advanced Placement United States History
The AP United States History program prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands upon them equivalent to those made by full-year introductory college courses. This course is a survey of American history from the age of exploration to the present. The course is designed to provide students with the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in U.S. history. Solid reading and writing skills, along with a willingness to devote considerable time to homework and study, are necessary to succeed. Students will learn to assess historical materials—their relevance to a given interpretive problem, their reliability, and their importance—and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship.
The following admission requirements are mandatory for each student: a minimum score of 600 on the verbal section of the PSAT, a grade of ‘A’ in both ninth and tenth grade history and English courses, recommendations from previous history instructors, the completion of AP summer course work and readings, and a passing score of B on the entry examinations taken during the first week of class.
Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics
This course provides eleventh and twelfth grade students with an analytical perspective of government and politics in the United States. It includes both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific examples. It also requires familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute U.S. politics. Students will become acquainted with a variety of theoretical perspectives and explanations for various behaviors and outcomes. The course is broken into six major fields of study: a) constitutional underpinnings of United States government, b) political beliefs and behaviors, c) political parties, interest groups, and mass media, d) institutions of national government, e) public policy, and f) civil rights and civil liberties.
To be admitted into this course, the student must have scored a minimum of 550 on the verbal section of the PSAT or SAT. He or she should have a grade of ‘A’ in previous history courses with a recommendation from a previous history teacher. Students will be required to complete A.P. summer course work and readings related to this course, and receive a passing score of B or better on examinations taken during the first few weeks of class.
This is a survey course covering the fundamentals of basic economics. At the heart of the course is learning how economics deals with an underlying premise: understanding how a free market economy deals with the basic problem of wants and needs being greater than the resources available, a concept known as scarcity. The first semester of the course will cover microeconomics: how individuals (consumers and businesses) deal with scarcity. The second semester will focus on macroeconomics: how those behaviors translate into how societies as a whole deal with the same problem. Current economic events will also be incorporated throughout the course. These events will range from the rising price of energy to interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve Board.
Social & Political Philosophy
Advanced Placement European History
The study of European history since 1450 introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which they live. Without this knowledge, we would lack the context for understanding the development of contemporary institutions, the role of continuity and change in present-day society and politics, and the evolution of current forms of artistic expression and intellectual discourse. In addition to providing a basic narrative of events and movements, the goals of the AP program in European History are to develop (a) an understanding of some of the principal themes in modern European History, (b) an ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and (c) an ability to express historical understanding in writing.