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An Independent Day School for Grades 6-12
Upper School
Upper School Curriculum

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History - US

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.

The objectives of the History Department are:
  • 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. 

Note:  Not all of the History courses are offered every year and electives are subject to change.  
  • (H) Philosophy

    Basics
    Grade level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approval pending
    Prerequisite(s) – A course in World History; B+ or higher in your most recent Honors history course or A- or higher in a non-Honors history course; Permission of instructor
     
    Core Questions
    ● How have past cultures and seminal thinkers worked through this existential problem?  
    ● How can their ideas provide a model for our own lives?  
    ● What makes moral character good?
    ● How does modernity present its own challenges for living a good life?
    ● What are the skills of thinking and reasoning that philosophers employ?
    ● What does living a good life mean to you?  
      
    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    This course emphasizes discussion and practicing different models of dialog and argumentation.  We will seek to not just know the facts about key philosophical traditions but understand and practice those ways of thinking and being.  This course emphasizes presenting ideas and public speaking and requires each student to maturely engage in respectful collaboration.  We will seek to explore at not just an intellectual level but also on an individual level through journaling, debate, and public discourse. The Honors assignments will require students to work independently and to engage with complex readings beyond summarization and into the realms of interpretation and application while non honors students will stick more closely readings from classics in Philosophy.           

    Bottom Line
    Take time to explore what makes a good life.  This course presents students with major figures and ideas in philosophy but also seeks to foster a lively dialog about what a good life means to each student.  If you have been longing to not just read about philosophy but philosophize in the Agora, this course is for you.  This course is being offered as a blended Honors/Non-Honors course.  Students who qualify and choose to take the course as an Honors course will have a specific set of assignments and projects to complete and all assignments will be assessed according to the norms for Honors courses.      
  • (H) US Foreign Policy 3D (Sem. 2)

    (not offered in 2020-21)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (offered in alternating years)
    Course Type – Honors; UC approval pending.
    Prerequisite(s) – B+ or higher in Modern European History

    Core Questions  
    ● What factors shape the development of our nation’s foreign policy? 
    ● How has the US commitment to spread democracy shaped our alliances? 
    ● How have experiments with socialism and communism become the focal points of U.S. Foreign Policy over the past 100 years? 
    ● How have charismatic leaders altered the course of our nation’s alliances? 
    ● How have recent U.S. Presidents altered the global balance of power, and what nations are maneuvering for leading roles in the world order?
    ● How have classic theories of international relations continued to shape US Foreign Policy?

    This course will explore the rapidly changing nature of American foreign policy through exploring some basic theories of international relations, and applying those theories to case studies in three essential world regions:  Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe. Through examining the modern histories of Cuba, Venezuela, Egypt, Iran, Russia and Germany, students will build a strong foundation of knowledge about the cycles of diplomacy that shape international relations.

    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. Assessments will include reading quizzes, take-home essays, presentations, debates, and a research paper. 

    The Bottom Line
    Take this history elective if you have always wanted to understand how U.S. diplomacy operates, enjoy reading about international news, and feel like there is never enough time to talk about foreign policy in the core curriculum.
  • Philosophy

    (not offered in 2021-22)

    Basics
    Grade level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approval pending
    Prerequisite(s) – A course in World History; Permission of instructor
     
    Core Questions
    ● How have past cultures and seminal thinkers worked through this existential problem?  
    ● How can their ideas provide a model for our own lives?  
    ● What makes moral character good?
    ● How does modernity present its own challenges for living a good life?
    ● What are the skills of thinking and reasoning that philosophers employ?
    ● What does living a good life mean to you? 
      
    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    This course emphasizes discussion and practicing different models of dialog and argumentation.  We will seek to not just know the facts about key traditions in Philosophy but to understand and practice those ways of thinking and being.  This course emphasizes presenting ideas and public speaking and requires each student to maturely engage in respectful collaboration. We will seek to explore at not just an intellectual level but also on an individual level through journaling, logic, and thought-provoking readings.

    Bottom Line
    Take time to explore what makes a good life.  This course presents students with major figures and ideas in philosophy but also seeks to foster a lively dialog about what a good life means to each student.  If you want to have a chance to engage in challenging readings, practice introspection and rich discussions with your peers on the nature of life, virtue, friendship, and self-knowledge, this course is for you.  This course is being offered as a blended Honors/Non-Honors course.  Students taking the course without Honors will have assignments tailored to the homework guidelines for non-Honors courses.   
  • Art History

    (not offered in 2021-22)

    Basics
    Grade level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – Modern European History or similar course.
     
    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?
      
    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    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
     
    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(s) – None
     
    Core Questions
    ● Where do 75% of humans live? What are their stories?
    ● 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 were the major events that shaped Afro-Asiatic history?
    ● 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.
  • Contemporary Issues: World News Tonight (Sem. 1)

    (not offered in 2020-21)
     
    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (offered in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – Approval from the History Department Head.
     
    Core Questions
    ● What is going on in the world?
    ● How can I best understand current events?
    ● How can I determine truth from fiction and fake news?
    ● What are the historical underpinnings of current events?
    ● How do different media cover the same events differently?
     
    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    Seminar discussions, document based reading, presentations including a capstone presentation involving research and persuasive argumentation and mixed media.
     
    The Bottom Line
    Contemporary Issues is a current events course with a media literacy twist. In addition to following the news as it develops, students will select contemporary issues to study on their own. Over the course of the semester, students will be responsible for following the major stories of the day, discerning the multiple perspectives and biases that constitute news stories in their entirety, and for mastering their selected topic. At the end of the semester, students will have to present their findings to their peers.
  • Eastern Religious Culture (Sem. 2)

    (not offered in 2020-21)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length — One Semester (offered in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – Approval from History Department Head.
     
    Core Questions 
    ● What is a human being?
    ● Why am I here?
    ● What is religion?
    ● What is gained by examining multiple answers to the same common human questions?
    ● The Shvetashvatara Upanishad asks:  “Whence are we born? Whereby do we live, and whither do we go?” We will ask these questions of Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Confucians, Animists, and Secular Humanists alike
     
    Methods of Instruction and Assessment:
    Seminar discussion, document based reading, a presentation; persuasive argumentation (oral, written, visual arts), text reading, quizzes, and a final project for juniors.
      
    The Bottom Line
    Eastern Religious Cultures helps complete our curricular treatment of philosophy and religion. Demystifying the beliefs and cultures of 75% of the human species is in line with Crystal core beliefs regarding global citizenship, community, scholarship, and truly unbounded spirit.
  • European History

    Basics
    Grade Level – 10
    Length – One Year
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – 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
    We will examine the rise of 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)

    (not offered in 2021-22)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Year (in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – Modern European History (History 10) or similar course
     
    Core Questions
    ● How did the Enlightenment, in its challenge to the ancien 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
    Course Type – Honors; UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – Successful completion of United States History or enrollment in a US history course; B+ or higher in your most recent Honors history course or A- or higher in a non-Honors history course.  
     
    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?        
    ● How do political scientists and political practitioners align or differ in their understanding of how American politics works?  
     
    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)

    (not offered in 2021-22)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (offered in alternate years)
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – 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.
  • 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 (offered in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – Modern European history or similar course and 10th grade English, and approval of most recent History teacher and Department Head.

    Course Description
    This course 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. 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 individual liberty and build on the issues raised in Unit 2 regarding the power of the state. Our key play will be Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III, which seeks to imagine a world in which the ceremonial ruler might be the protector of individual liberty in the face of a democratically elected legislature. 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)

    (not offered in 2020-21)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11,12
    Length – One Semester (offered in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – None. 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.
     
    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    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 Crystal campus).
     
    The 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 Germans and Americans 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(s) – None 

    Core Questions
    ● What are American colonial experiences, compromises and founding ideals that are reflected in the design of the US Constitution?
    ● Was the Civil War inevitable and how were the North and South fighting a legal, cultural, and political battle over the issue of slavery?    
    ● What is America's place in the world? What are historical trends of foreign policy and involvement in war? How has that impacted the US domestically?  
    ● Who is American and what does it mean to be an American? How did the US dealt with immigrants and ethnic groups through history and today?
    ● 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, Google Drive 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. Assessments are given in a timely manner related to the unit being studied. Students are assessed roughly every two weeks with oral vocab quizzes and roughly once every 4 weeks with unit tests. Furthermore, they will be provided with 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 colonial America to the present.  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(s) – Application; A Writing Assessment  and completion of Modern European History (or similar course) with B+ or 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?
    ● What were the competing visions of America, and who gets included in what it means to be “American”?
    ● How have ideas of race and gender shaped American history?
    ● How has American foreign policy shaped and been shaped by domestic concerns?
    ● 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 homework 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 projects.  
     
    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.
  • Western Religious Culture (Sem. 1)

    (not offered in 2020-21)

    Basics
    Grade Level – 11, 12
    Length – One Semester (offered in alternating years)
    Course Type – UC approved
    Prerequisite(s) – None. Modern European History (History 10) or similar course is helpful but not required.
     
    Core Questions
    ● What are the basic tenets of the three western monotheisms?
    ● How have these faiths changed over their long histories?
    ● How have these faiths expressed their beliefs in art, architecture, and other cultural forms?
    ● What roles to these faiths play in contemporary politics and culture?
     
    Methods of Instruction and Assessment
    We’ll have Huston Smith’s venerable The World’s Religions as our introduction, and consume a variety of media (print, audio, visual) to enhance what we read there. Students will teach class once a semester, take a test for each of the three units, make a short video, write the occasional essay, and discuss together the western heritage of finding meaning in life. We’ll also visit a rabbi, a priest, and an imam in their respective houses of worship to see what they have to share.
     
    Bottom Line
    Ironically, in this increasingly secular culture, it seems that religious literacy is needed more than ever. This course provides a foundation for more sophisticated discussion of topics that dominate the news to this very day. But besides that citizenship goal, these faiths shaped much of the western cultural legacy, and the course will help us “read” that legacy more clearly.

Faculty

  • Photo of Lauren Vargas
    Lauren Vargas
    US History Department Head, History teacher
  • Photo of Emily Healy
    Emily Healy
    US History teacher
  • Photo of Kent Holubar
    Kent Holubar
    US History teacher
  • Photo of Peter Kovas
    Peter Kovas
    US History teacher
  • Photo of Merlin Kwon
    Merlin Kwon
    US History teacher
  • Photo of Nicole Sorger
    Nicole Sorger
    US History teacher
Nondiscriminatory Policy: Crystal Springs Uplands School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.