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Upper School Curriculum

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History - US

Philosophy
The History Department strives to empower students with knowledge of the past so that they are inspired to apply what they have learned to the decisions they make throughout their lives.

Objectives
  • To introduce students to the major phases of human history from prehistoric peoples to the present.
  • To promote understanding of a student’s own society and culture in comparison to others in different times or places.
  • To encourage students to regard the people of other times and places with openness and empathy.
  • To create an understanding of and appreciation for the importance of race, class, religion, gender, and ethnicity in shaping history.
  • To develop skills associated with the social sciences:
    • Expository writing
    • The interpretation of primary sources
    • The reading of maps, charts, and tables
    • The understanding of the vocabulary of history, politics, and social science
    • The use of the library and current information technology for research and presentation of results
    • The ability to formulate and defend an argument or thesis in writing or speaking
  • To show connections between past and present by integrating current events into the curriculum.
  • To develop multicultural literacy and global awareness.


Off-Campus Credit Policy
Credit for off-campus courses will be granted only in rare cases. Students who feel justified in seeking such credit must meet the following conditions:
  • Students must obtain permission from the Department Head during the final exam period at the end of the second semester.
  • Students must demonstrate acquired knowledge to the satisfaction of the department.
  • Art History

    Basics
    Grade level--11,12
    Length--One Year
    Course Type--UC approved
    Prerequisite--Modern European History or similar course.
    Criteria for Enrollment—None

    Course Description
    A combination of lecture, seminar discussion and individual presentations allows students to explore ways in which people have expressed themselves through the language of art, beginning with Paleolithic cave art and continuing to the 21st century. Emphasis is on western art, with brief stops in Africa and Asia. Students will examine media, styles, subject matter and the careers of individual artists. The course is taught through the lens of social history

    Core Questions
    ●     What is the relationship between religion and art?
    ●     In what ways can art serve as propaganda for the ruling class?
    ●     Is there an important difference between “high” and “low” art?
    ●     How does the aesthetic of a particular age give us insight into its values, customs and everyday life?

    Bottom Line
    The emphasis is on painting, sculpture and architecture, but drawing, printmaking and interior design will be discussed as well.

  • Comparative Cultures

    Basics
    Grade Level – 9
    Length – One Year
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite – None
    Criteria for Enrollment – None

    Core Questions
    ●    How has the world become the way that it is now? Why has that evolution occurred?
    ●    Why is understanding geography important?
    ●    What are the major Asian religions? What do they tell us about the people who practice them?
    ●    How has the world globalized? How has nationalism developed in different countries?
    ●    What is the role of myth and story in history?
    ●    What is the relationship between history and culture?
    ●    How does culture shape history and vice versa?
    ●    What was the Region of the Robes of Honor?
    ●    What historical connections existed between Asia and Africa?

    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    History is a conversation, and every student needs to be involved somehow. Students can participate through class discussion and through personal reflection and performance (i.e. tests, essays), but every student needs to engage. Students will develop research and argument-building skills through debates and projects, and will learn how to reconcile fact with their own belief. This is a course for students who are curious about the world and not afraid of detail. Students will learn how to take solid notes and the mechanics of managing and organizing information. However, while this class will provide students with a lot of specific information, synthesis is more important than rote absorption.

    The Bottom Line
    This class creates a space for deep and challenging thought. Students will learn to recognize that there is no right answer when studying human history; the job of the historian is to be willing to explore ideas and be challenged by knowledge that may confront his or her previous paradigm. This course provides students with an organic understanding of history that confronts the why and how of our journey to the modern era. Students will explore and understand the origins of Asian cultures as well as the trade and economic development around the Indian Ocean and Africa, as well as the connections between these regions and Western civilization. In this way, they’ll begin to engage the C that trade created a.k.a our modern world.

  • European History

    Basics
    Grade Level – 10
    Length – One Year
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite – None
    Criteria for Enrollment – None

    Core Questions
    ●    What constituted the traditions and values of Old Regime Europe that the Enlightenment challenged?
    ●    What impact did the slave trade have on Europe and Africa and the Americas? What connection can be drawn between the past and present experiences of these three continents?
    ●    How did Europe evolve in the course of the 19th century into an industrial, secular, and urban society that projected power across the globe?
    ●    How did Europeans respond to the dilemmas totalitarian states posed to individuals?
    ●    What has Europe done to create a new identity in the post-1945 era?
    ●    How have Europeans struggled to create a place for non-European immigrants in the current era?

    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    While we will master the nitty-gritty, the focus of the course will be on charting the ideas that dominated the intellectual discourse of each era, and the patterns of each era’s social development. The course will plunge into art and literature as well as politics in order to get a strong conceptual foothold in Western social and cultural history. We’ll refine our discerning research and writing skills that have been developed in past history courses. Learning how to identify valuable research sources and incorporate others’ work thoughtfully in our own writing are paramount among the skills developed in this course.

    The Bottom Line
    This course works to connect the European experience with the American experience. We will study the impact both societies have had on each other, especially as we examine the globalization and multiculturalism of the modern era. The course will also work to create an understanding of the conflicts and compromises that are directing present-day Western society, integrating our understanding of historical Europe’s lessons with today’s contemporary issues.

  • European History (H)

    Basics
    Grade Level--11,12
    Length--One Year
    Prerequisite—None
    Course Type--UC approved
    Criteria for Enrollment--Modern European History (History 10) or similar course

    Core Questions
    ●    How did the Enlightenment, in its challenge to the ancient régime of monarchy, nobility, and clergy, contribute to the French Revolution?
    ●    How have the French and Industrial Revolutions shaped European History?
    ●    What do the culture wars of the 1800s tell us about the cultural tensions of today?
    ●    Who are the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie, and what is their legacy?
    ●    How did trauma of the Great War shape the twentieth century?
     
    Method of Instruction
    Instead of using a broad survey text, this course will show students that there is engaging history writing available in short monographs. We will read some of the finest historians currently writing, and will study how their insightful and nuanced prose styles can enhance our own essays. This is a seminar, where students are responsible for actively contributing to the learning of the class, so key--and assessed--performance aspects of the course include teaching class, as well as making an effort to contribute daily.
     
    Bottom Line
    This course studies the “long” nineteenth century, from the origins of the French Revolution to the repercussions of World War One. We will study the way in which Europe waged a “culture war” during the creation of a new society based on the liberal nation-state, industrial technology, and a faith in secular progress, and how the old regime fought against these new tenets.

  • Gov't & Pol I: Amer (H) (Sem. 1)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (fall)
    Course Type – Honors; UC approved but not for honors credit
    Prerequisite – Application
    Criteria for Enrollment – Successful completion of United States history or enrollment in a US history course; most recent History teacher and Department Head approval

    Core Questions
    ●    What are the competing visions of America, and who gets included in what it means to be “American”?
    ●    What political theories were employed in the American system of government?
    ●    How do the three branches of government operate?
    ●    What proposed reforms to the American political system exist and what are the costs and benefits of those reforms?
    ●    How has the American system developed over time and when has it faced crises and challenges?

    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    This course does not have a standard textbook. Students will rely on close readings of primary documents and scholarly articles as the basis of the reading and class discussions. Readings are challenging in structure, vocabulary, and ideas. Students are expected to be able to manage long-term assignments and projects independently. Writing is a cornerstone of the course and students should expect to have written work weekly at a minimum. Students will be asked to write from different perspectives and in different styles from a Supreme Court case brief to a position paper on a legislative issue. Written work and in-class assessments challenge students to look beyond observation toward author’s motivation or the connections between a source and the essential questions of the course. In conjunction with that, close-reading will be a daily practice in the classroom and a central element of all written work and projects. Students will also engage in consistent group work. While students are evaluated on his or her individual product, a goal of the course is to consciously develop group and discussion norms and best practices.
     
    The Bottom Line
    This course provides students a chance to look deeply at American political institutions in theory and practice. Students will explore each of the major branches of government and engage with the most current political issues and controversies. This course also allows for student exploration of topics and points of view that interest them and a goal of the course is to foster each student’s sense of his or her own political ideology.

  • Modern Middle East I (Sem. 1)

    Basics
    Grade Level--11,12
    Length--One Semester (fall)
    Course Type--UC approved
    Prerequisite—None
    Criteria for Enrollment-- None

    Core Questions
    ●    Why is the Middle East so often embroiled in conflict and unrest?
    ●    What are the origins of the current refugee crisis?
    ●    How do religion and politics intersect in Middle East politics?
    ●    In what ways has U.S. foreign policy influenced the region?

    Method of Instruction
    This course is designed to provide a historical context for understanding current events in the often-tumultuous region of the Modern Middle East. The course will work backwards from the present, beginning with an exploration of the recent Syrian civil war and related refugee crisis. Based on the latest news, we will explore both internal dynamics and regional relations between Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, among others. Materials will range from graphic novels and short documentaries to primary source accounts from recent news articles, and the occasional scholarly journal article. Students will conduct their own research on one country in depth, in addition to participating in panel discussions representing their country, and partner projects to create short films that highlight music and artistic expression from the region. Lastly, we will explore the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, highlighting the narratives of both sides and how this conflict spills over into the larger political dynamic of the Middle East as a whole.

    Bottom Line
    Think of this course as a classic “myth-busters” experience-- through gripping texts, powerful documentaries, edgy graphic novels and expert guest speakers, this course will allow you to challenge stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims, and learn to speak and write knowledgeably and powerfully about a region of the world that is too often misunderstood. Students will also have the opportunity to travel with their classmates to the Middle East over Spring Break in 2019.

  • Modern Middle East II (Sem. 2)

    Grade Level—11, 12
    Length--One or Two Semesters (Fall and/or Spring)
    Course Type--Crystal; UC course approval
    Prerequisite--None
    Criteria for Enrollment--None

    Core Questions
    • Why are religion and state so intertwined in the Middle East?
    • How has the history of Islam influenced the development of the modern Middle East?
    • How can historical patterns shed light on intra-regional conflicts that continue to exist in the Middle East?
    • Why is the Middle East so important to U.S. foreign policy?
    • How do artistic expression, the role of women and economics help us to understand the diversity of cultural experiences in the Modern Middle East?
    • How can we demystify this region by breaking down stereotypes based on fear and sweeping generalizations?
    • How has the Arab Spring shifted the political climate in the Middle East? Do these revolutions represent change or continuity in the historical record?

    Method of Instruction and Assessment
    Student understanding will be measured through a combination of assessment to include reading quizzes, tests, research papers, presentations, and an iMovie.

    Course Description
    Semester Two:  The second semester will begin with two major case studies in the Modern Middle East.  Starting with the secular, Western legacy of Ataturk, students will examine the experience of Modern Turkey as a nation that literally spans East and West; the Middle East and Europe.  In contrast, we will then move to study the development of Modern Iran, starting with the pro-Western, secular Shahs, and moving towards the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  Through exploring these extreme examples of secular and religious nationalism, we will shift to working on independent film projects, in which students have an opportunity to research countries we have not studied, to highlight their experiences with not only political development, but artistic expression, gender roles, religious identity, and both economic and demographic indicators.  The course will culminate with a Middle East Film Festival in April, in which student filmmakers will serve as panelists to present their films and answer audience questions.  


  • Political Theory & Theater (H) (Sem. 2)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (spring)
    Course Type--UC approved
    Prerequisite – Successful completion of Modern European History
    Criteria for Enrollment – Successful completion of Modern European history or similar course and 10th grade English; most recent History teacher and Department Head approval

    Course Description
    This is a political science course that explores key political theory texts as well as the ways in which those ideas appear in political theater. This course will look at three major time periods and compare the political writings of the time to major dramatic texts. In the first unit we will look at classical political theory and Plato’s Republic as it relates to Sophocles’ classic play Antigone. Our central question will be how much obedience the citizen owes the state. We will also read selections from an updated reimagining of Antigone by Rabindranath Tagore titled Sacrifice. In the second unit we will look at the rise of the absolute monarch and the question of legitimacy of government. We will use Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince to understand Shakespeare’s Richard III. In our final unit we will look at modern political theory and the question of human liberty in opposition to the surveillance power of the state. Our key play will be Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which seeks to challenge political repression of free speech and freedom of thought. This is a course for the political as well as literary minded student who wants to really think about major political questions dealing with the role of government, the state’s relationship to its citizens, legitimacy, and individual liberty.

    Core Questions
    ● How has theater challenged and asked audiences to engage in political questions?
    ● How can we understand political theory with case studies drawn from drama?
    ● Is art political?
    ● What obedience does the citizen owe to the state?
    ● How does a government gain or attain legitimacy?
    ● What is liberty and what are its limits?
    ● What is the government’s relationship to liberty?
     
    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    This course does not have a standard textbook. Students will rely on close readings of scholarly articles and political science texts as the basis of the reading and class discussions. Readings are challenging in structure, vocabulary, and ideas. Students are expected to think across disciplines and to engage in interdisciplinary thinking and writing. Students are expected to be able to manage long-term assignments and projects independently. Writing is a cornerstone of the course; written work and in-class assessments challenge students to look beyond observation toward author’s motivation or the connections between a source an a historical moment and the essential questions of the course. In conjunction with that, close reading will be a daily practice in the classroom and a central element of all written work and projects. Students will also engage in consistent group work. While students are evaluated on his or her individual product, a goal of the course is to consciously develop group and discussion norms and best practices.
     
    The Bottom Line
    This is a course, which pulls together political science and theater to challenge students to understand political theory in context and in the arts. Political Theory and Theater hopes to engage students in understanding and discussing the nature of power, how “the state” wields power, and the boundaries of liberty.

  • Power of Memory (Sem. 2)

    Grade Level--11,12
    Length--One Semester (Spring)
    Course Type--Crystal; UC
    Prerequisite—None
    Criteria for Enrollment--Modern European History (History 10) and an American history course are both helpful, but not required.

    Core Questions
    • Why bother with the past? Many societies spend a great deal of resources in studying the past, preserving its physical remains, and celebrating the past in holidays, parades, museums, historic sites and more. Why?
    • As a society, we Americans choose to celebrate, memorialize, preserve some things but not others (which some people might believe are worth remembering)—what shapes our choices?
    • Besides celebrating its triumphs, should a society memorialize its failures? A deeper appreciation for the place of historical remembrance in American society is the expected outcome of a comparative look at how contemporary Germany has struggled to preserve, memorialize, and teach its very complex twentieth-century history.

    Method of Instruction
    A variety of sources (print, audio, visual, physical) will help us master the content of the course. Two examples from the reading list: James Oliver Horton & Lois E Horton, Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American History (2009) and Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape (1998). Students get to teach class, to participate in discussions, and to write a mere three unit tests. An off-campus service project will occupy all students in the spring (20 hours of volunteering at your choice of institution dedicated to historical remembrance); an on-campus service project will occupy the remaining juniors in May (in 2016, it was the start of a guide to the memorial landscape on the CSUS campus).

    Bottom Line
    An unusual history class: using the content (events, people, dates) we’ve acquired over the years to interpret the selective, emotionally fraught way we keep the past alive today. We’ll actually get out and contribute to that process, and, if there’s enough interest in the voluntary endeavor, class members can see how Americans and Germans mark their history during a spring break trip to Berlin and Washington DC.

  • U.S. History & Gov't

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Year
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite – None
    Criteria for Enrollment –Approval of most recent History teacher

    Core Questions
    ●    What was unusual about America’s development as a nation? What leaders shaped the country’s founding, and what made them so inspiring?
    ●    Why did the Civil War happen, could it have been avoided, and how do cultural divisions between the North and South appear today?
    ●    What ideas and movements have continued to reappear in American history and what are their legacies and unfinished projects?
    ●    As historians, how can we communicate better, think more critically and contribute more to the future of the United States?

    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    This class has a strong presence online. Students collaborate, share, extrapolate and investigate issues using MyCSUS, GoogleDocs and YouTube. This class also examines a plethora of primary sources: documents which are a direct link to the men and women who experienced events as they happened. Understanding the value of primary sources will be a key component to this class. The textbook The American Promise is used extensively as a valuable resource. Assessments are given in a timely manner related to the unit being studied. Students are assessed roughly every two weeks. Furthermore, they will be provided with many opportunities to investigate topics that interest them, allowing for the development of important research skills. Additionally, students will be assessed through debates, presentations, and essays (in-class assignments and larger take-home papers).
     
    The Bottom Line
    United States history covers the time period from pre-colonial America to the 1980s. As per California graduation requirements we give special emphasis to political development and systems of American government. Students will learn to understand the development of our nation from the idealistic dreams of our founders to the present. By understanding our past, students will confront our nation’s future; we will grapple with current difficulties posed by enduring social, ethnic, and economic inequities, as well as the challenges created by our nation’s unprecedented power in the global community.

  • U.S. History & Gov't (H)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Year
    Course Type – Honors; UC approved
    Prerequisite – Application; A Writing Assessment
    Criteria for Enrollment – Successful completion of Modern European History (or similar course); most recent History teacher and Department Head approval

    Course Description
    Honors United States history covers the time period from pre-colonial America to the 1980s. As per California graduation requirements we give special emphasis to political development and systems of American government. This course is interested in large historical questions that often span decades in American history. Was the American Revolution all that revolutionary? Why did the Civil War happen? What are the competing visions of America and who gets included in what it means to be “American”? Thus, we do not always move in a perfect chronological timeline. In addition, these questions do not have clear-cut factual answers. Our readings and class discussions introduce a variety of historical perspectives and challenge students to develop their own complex answers to these questions.

    Core Questions
    ●    What were the compromises in creating the Constitution and what were the legacies of those compromises?
    ●    Why did the Civil War happen, and could it have been avoided?
    ●    What were the competing visions of America, and who gets included in what it means to be “American”?
    ●    How has American foreign policy shaped and been shaped by domestic concerns?
    ●    How have artistic and literary movements shaped and reflected American history?
    ●    What ideas and movements have continued to reappear in American history and what are their legacies and unfinished projects?

    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    Because the course does not have a standard textbook, students rely on close readings of primary documents and scholarly articles as the basis of the reading and class discussions. Students are expected to be able to manage long-term assignments and projects independently. Students are tasked to write short essays most weeks that focus on primary source analysis and most units are punctuated with formal analytical essays or research papers.
     
    The Bottom Line
    In sum, this course is about asking and attempting to answer the questions that define the American experience through wrestling with challenging texts, engaging in lively debates, working independently on long-term projects, and writing critical analysis essays.

Faculty

  • Kent Holubar

    History Department Head, History teacher
  • Peter Kovas

    US History teacher
  • Nicole Sorger

    US History teacher
  • Mieke Tonn

    US History teacher
  • Lauren Vargas

    US History teacher
  • Sarah White

    US History teacher

Crystal Springs Uplands School


General: (650) 342-4175 | info@csus.org
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Middle School
10 Davis Drive
Belmont, CA 94002
(650) 342-4175 x1000
Upper School
400 Uplands Drive
Hillsborough, CA 94010
(650) 342-4175