History Department Course Offerings
History Course Flowchart (PDF)
- GO730: AP American Government
- GO740: AP Comparative Government
- GO993: Honors Independent Tutorial in Government
- GO994: Honors Independent Tutorial in Government
- HI120: Approaches to History
- HI240: The Revolutionary Century: From Imperialism to Globalism
- HI320: United States History
- HI535: Honors Seminar: Conflict in the Modern World I
- HI591: Independent Tutorial in History
- HI592: Senior Research and Composition
- HI611: Senior Research and Composition
- HI830: AP U.S. History
- HI840: AP European History
- HI850: AP World History
- HI993: Honors Independent Tutorial in History
- HI994: Honors Independent Tutorial in History
This full-year course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement Examination in American Government and is concerned with the nature of the American political system, its development over the past 200 years, and how it works today. The goal of the course is to increase understanding of the mechanisms of American politics and to enhance the students' ability to study political behavior. Controversial issues in contemporary politics and public policy are also addressed. Classes follow a discussion format, and evaluation is based on class participation, debates, quizzes, period tests, and short papers. Students are expected to take the Advanced Placement Examination. Open to students who have completed U.S. History or AP U.S. History, with department approval.
The AP course in Comparative Government introduces students to the ways in which political scientists evaluate political life in all its variety. Beginning with a basic introduction to political theory, the course will then examine and compare the political history and governments of China, Great Britain, Mexico, Russia, Iran, and Nigeria. After studying political theory, students can then see how these theories manifest themselves in practice. Whether it be elections, policy making, or power structures, students will take abstract ideas and see them in action. They will also see how increased global connectedness has affected the traditional nation-state and ideas of sovereignty. In addition to preparing for the AP exam, students will learn about political history and current events in the six nations they study and will be asked to perform deeper research into the countries we study. Open to students who have completed U.S. History or AP U.S. History, with department approval. Students are expected to take the AP Comparative Government exam.
Approaches to History considers the relationship between the individual and society, in many parts of the world, from ancient times to the early modern era. As the title suggests, the course encourages students to view history through different lenses, whether ideological, social, political, or economic. Students will also develop historians' skills. Critical reading, evidence-based essay writing, and primary source analysis are emphasized in the fall. As the year progresses, evidence from research is included in the writing process, and students engage in Harkness discussions and formal debates. Students finish the year with an appreciation for the relevance and excitement of historical study as well as the skills and historical perspective needed to succeed in higher-level Taft history courses.
This course for Middlers will cover the rebellions, riots, and revolutions of the twentieth century. In each unit, student-led teams will discover the historical roots of recent world events, then collaboratively produce their own response to each issue. Beginning with the "New Imperialism" of the late 19th century, then moving through the blood-soaked Revolutions of Russia and China into the violent overthrow of colonial rule in Africa, the course will examine the common causes of revolution, the processes involved in regime change, and the effects of powerful individuals, such as Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and Vladimir Lenin. We will also examine the possibilities of peaceful protest, featuring projects on Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Each class will be split into two groups, which will compete on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to create and support a thesis that they will then present through a variety of media, including iMovie, PowerPoint, and Lincoln-Douglas style debates, all the while staying focused on the History department's core skills of reading, writing, analysis, presentation, and research. The spring will feature a series of debates regarding the elements of great leadership, and the individuals who embody such characteristics. The course will culminate with a project in which the teams will identify, research, and attempt to rectify an issue that affects their own lives.
This course examines the history of the United States from the colonial era through the Vietnam War, with a particular emphasis on the evolving definition of liberty. The curriculum relies on primary source materials, encouraging students to explore the nation’s history through the voices of its people. To support this document-based focus, the course utilizes a thematic approach that calls for meaningful critical analysis, interpretative thinking and inclusive class discussion. United States History is a writing-intensive course. Students develop their skills through a variety of assignments including in-class essays, document based questions, a research project, and a cumulative semester exam. There are also debates, oral presentations and group projects. This course fulfills the U.S. History requirement and is normally taken during the Upper-middler year.
Term: Semester 1
This two-semester honors-level course will provide students with the opportunity to examine the history of modern conflict, from the end of World War II until the present day. The first semester will focus on the immediate post-World War II world, including the Cold War and the series of wars and revolutions that it engendered. Students will consider themes such as the changing nature of warfare in the modern world, the role that natural resources and religion play in modern conflict, as well as a variety of essays on how conflict will evolve in the decades to come. We will consider a broad selection of media, as well as a variety of historical texts, essays, documentaries and feature films. Designed specifically to challenge juniors and seniors in a seminar setting, classroom discussion will be critical to the students’ experience and success. A writing intensive course, there will be a number of short analytical essays, periodic quizzes and tests, as well as one longer research project per semester. Students who have successfully completed at least one advanced placement course in the social sciences or have received special permission from the instructor are eligible for enrollment.
This survey of U.S. history resembles an introductory undergraduate course. The readings are drawn from many sources, including a basic text and documentary and interpretive materials. The course is chronological and covers the major currents of political, social, intellectual, economic, and diplomatic history. A major goal is to develop analytical and interpretive skills, both orally and in writing, with further emphasis on critical reading and writing. Evaluation is based upon quizzes, announced period assessments, short papers, specialized writing assignments and projects, two research papers, and cumulative semester examinations. The course prepares students for the Advanced Placement Examination in American History. Students who sign up for this course will complete a lengthy reading assignment on colonial American history over the summer. The first assessment, a four-page paper, is based on this reading, and will be due upon students’ arrival in the fall. Open to Upper-middlers and Seniors with approval of the Department.
The course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement Examination in European History. Students will study the development of government, culture, and society from approximately 1500 to the present. Evaluation is based on period assessments, a research paper on a topic of the student’s choice focusing on the period before the French Revolution, class participation, and a final examination in the first semester. Students are expected to take the AP European History exam. Open to Middlers, Upper-middlers and Seniors with the approval of the Department.
This course focuses primarily on building students' historical thinking skills, using the past 10,000 years of human history as source material. AP World History is less about fact memorization than the building of connections and the authentic application of those understandings. The course looks at the histories all five major geographical regions of the globe: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, viewing each through the lenses of the course's five themes: environment, cultures, state-building, economic systems, and social structures. The main skills developed include chronological reasoning, comparison and contextualization, crafting arguments using evidence, and the interpretations and synthesis of interpretations and ideas. This course is aimed at seniors who have already completed AP U.S. History, but others may petition the department for entry.