History Department Course Offerings
History Course Flowchart (PDF)
- GS570: Honors Model UN for Upper Schoolers
- GS720: AP Human Geography
- GO730: AP American Government
- GO740: AP Comparative Government
- GO993: Honors Independent Tutorial in Government
- GO994: Honors Independent Tutorial in Government
- HI120: World History I: Foundations
- HI220: World History II: Revolutions
- HI320: United States History
- HI510: The Politics of Race and Gender
- HI591: Independent Tutorial in History
- 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 year-long Model United Nations (MUN) course is designed to examine the primary functions of the United Nations and its diplomatic role with respect to political, economic and cultural concerns of the global community. Through research, discussion, negotiation and debate, students will develop plausible solutions to contemporary global problems. These issues include, but are not limited to, human rights, protection of the environment, economic development, disarmament, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the complexities surrounding war and peace.
Most of the work that will be carried out in this course is in preparation for participation in the Harvard Model United Nations Conference, held in February; and the Cornell Model UN Conference, held in April. Students enrolled in the course are required to attend these conferences.
Human Geography is an interdisciplinary field that combines geography with the subject matters of social science. It refers to the sub-fields of geography that deal with how human action changes or is influenced by the earth's surface. In AP Human Geography, we will study the world, its populace, various communities, cultures, and religions. This course combines the study of cultural and economic geography as it explores the multi-faceted relationship between people and their environment. For instance, we will study the earth’s physical features, such as topography, soil, and vegetation and examine in detail the ways in which they are affected by human activity. There are seven major fields of study in AP Human Geography that we will cover over the course of the year: geography, population, cultural patterns and processes, political organization of space, agricultural and rural land use, industrialization and economic development, and cities and urban land use. In this course we will learn the methods and tools that geographers use in their science and practice. Open to UMs, Seniors, and Mids (department approval required)
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.
The Foundations course 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 that formulate the foundations of our world, whether ideological, social, political, or economic. In addition to the development of historians' skills, critical reading, evidence-based essay writing, and primary source analysis are emphasized. 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.
Why have so many revolutions in so many parts of the world occurred over the past few hundred years? Can we identify common patterns of revolutions? For that matter, can we even define what constitutes a revolution, given how broadly the term is applied throughout history? Starting with the French and Haitian Revolutions of the late 18th century, students in this course will examine the origins, processes and outcomes of more than a dozen revolutions that may include the Industrial, Bolshevik, Chinese, and Cuban Revolutions, as well as 20th century totalitarianism, decolonization movements, and “second wave” feminism. The year will be broken up into roughly 14 units, each of which will focus on a common era, theme, or geographic area. This is a course of “case studies,” meaning that in each unit students will work in groups or as individuals to become experts on their “case” and contribute to our class’ overall understanding of the unit theme/focus. This format allows for student-centered learning that relies heavily on the library, independent research, and collaboration.The course culminates with each student applying their understanding and knowledge of revolutions through an examination of a revolution in today’s world and then presenting those findings to his classmates.
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 2
The political scientist Harold Lasswell defined politics as, “Who gets, what, when and how.” This definition will guide us in our study of race and gender in modern American society. We will begin with looking at a brief history of race and gender politics in the US. We will then turn to the modern modern political culture and climate and we will examine how race and gender have affected the lives of everyday Americans. We will begin with the premise that racism and sexism continue to permeate through American politics and culture but we will also examine ways to move towards a more equal, just and free society.
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.