Historical Methods  •  Year

This yearlong, required course is an introduction to the study of history - not just what happened in the world of the recent past, but how to think like an historian. The aim of this class is to give students the skills they need to conduct their own authentic historical investigations. Students will practice these skills through a variety of thinking, reflecting and critiquing activities, through problem-solving and project design, and yes, through reading and writing. There is no core text - rather, the class will be using online resources and a variety of written materials to practice research and close reading skills as we examine major events from the recent past. This course is required for incoming 9th grade students.


Global Citizenship  •  Year

Global Citizenship provides students with the opportunity to examine contemporary issues in the modern global community and how the ideas of citizenship can be used to address major present day scenarios while preparing for the future. Global Citizenship will also challenge students to understand the interconnected nature of our planet and how history, culture, economics and political forces shape our world. Through this understanding, students will develop a greater sense of their responsibility as citizens of the earth.


United States History  •  Year

United States History is a yearlong, in-depth study of the nation’s history built around a close examination of three central episodes of American history through the interpretive lens of the broadly-defined concept of “revolution.” These three episodes are the American Revolution (eighteenth century), the Civil War and Reconstruction (nineteenth century), and the Civil Rights Movement (twentieth century). We will approach our investigation of these transformative periods as historians, exploring relevant primary source material, comparing perspectives, analyzing factors such as bias, causation and correlation, undertaking collaborative projects, and conducting original historical research, all with the goal of building up a nuanced, balanced and authentic understanding of why and how these pivotal changes occurred, and what they meant at that time and now for the evolution of the American nation and society.


BIG History  •  Fall

Big History is an interdisciplinary course that examines the place of humanity in the universe, for the entire 13.8 billion year existence of the known universe, and far ahead into its possible futures. “The concept arose from a desire to go beyond specialized and self-contained fields of study to grasp history as a whole. Big History explores how we are connected to everything around us and where we may be heading. It provides a foundation for thinking about the future and the changes that are reshaping our world.”
(“Introduction to BHP 2016”)

This course is cross-listed with Science. Students will need to choose which department to receive credit in.

Prerequisites: Biology and Global Citizenship (or equivalent). Department Chair permission required.


Topics in Art History: Race and Representation in Art*  •  Fall

An art history course focused on the subject matter of the Carter’s “Apes**t” music video and, through that, the representation of people of color in Western Art. Over the course of the semester, the 14 pieces featured in the music video would be a focus of study--painting, sculpture, architecture, and lyrics included. Through the context of visuals, students will broaden their knowledge of the history of artists of color living in a white patriarchy, and how race representation has evolved over time. The Carter’s video acts as a great introduction to race in art history because of the many perspectives you can study it from--the works themselves, the institutions of museums and representation within, and the cultural impact that recognition from global superstars can lead to. Field trips to local museums and related exhibition projects would be ongoing throughout the semester. The course will end with an analysis of contemporary art, questioning what it means to be an artist of color in today’s society.

* Cross-listed with Visual Art  

Open to all seniors, and juniors with permission of the Department Chair.


Social Animals? The Rise and Fall of Community in the 21st Century  •  Fall

In the 1950’s, civic engagement was at an all-time high…but what were the social implications? The class will read excerpts from Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam to discuss the dissolution of social attendance, coupled with the rise of technological achievements. The course will also have a civic engagement experiential element, consisting of the creation of a social compact regarding participation in government. We will also examine the Darrow community: its components, its mission, and its identity. We will collaborate as a group to create a visual representation of our conclusions.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.


Society, Culture, and Rock and Roll  •  Spring

This class will survey the social and cultural fabric of the post-World War II United States through the prism of music - rock and roll music. At one level the class will survey trends and styles in rock, focusing first on the artists and groups who gave rise to this hybrid form of music from its country and blues roots. It will then track the rise of rock and roll in the 1950s and the corporate, political, and social backlash against it. The focus for the 1960s will be on music as an expression and extension of the social, cultural, and political changes of that decade. Finally, the class will examine the paradoxical developments of the evolution of music videos (read: MTV) with the emergence of an abrasive, often angry music (read: punk/grunge/rap) by the end of the 1970s and into the 1990s. This class will conclude by examining and explaining the technological, business, and social forces that helped cement rock’s position in Western popular culture.


Alternate History  •  Spring

“What if…?” Alternate history is a relatively new field of historical inquiry that attempts to deepen our understanding and appreciation of actual history by imagining alternate outcomes to pivotal historical events. What if…  Lincoln had not been assassinated? Hitler had invaded and conquered Britain in 1940? John Adams had refused to relinquish the presidency to Thomas Jefferson in 1801? The Nationalists had won China’s civil war? Rather than Native Americans being decimated by European diseases, it had happened the other way around? Respected historians and accomplished fiction writers have contributed vivid and compelling historical scenarios to the growing body of alternate history work. Following a study of the real history of selected events, we will read and analyze corresponding alternate history accounts of these events. Students will also research, write, and present their own alternate history scenarios. Through answering the overarching question of “What if…?” students will develop their historical knowledge, critical thinking, and historical imagination.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.


Introduction to Philosophy  •  Spring

This course will delve into attempts to answer the Big Questions of existence, knowledge, and morality from the perspective of human reason rather than faith (or, as the Greeks had it, logos instead of mythos). Students will learn about major philosophical thinkers and ideas to encourage critical thinking, self-reflection, and the examination of ideas often taken for granted. They will begin by exploring the way major topics of inquiry were identified in classical Greece, and how those topics came to dominate the western philosophical tradition. The course will then delve into the philosophy of religion, including the various attempts to prove the existence of God, and the explanations for the existence of evil in the world. Students will then move to the study of moral philosophy, in particular the ideas of Mill and Kant, as well as the various critiques of their ideas, in order to better understand the development of moral and political frameworks that inform our lives, both on an individual and societal level. After analyzing the response to Kant by German idealists, primarily Hegel, students will dive into the Marxian tradition, and conclude the course with the major trends of late 19th century and 20th century philosophy, primarily existentialism.

Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.


Race: Reality and Fiction  •  Spring

If race has no genetic or biological basis, why does it matter so much? How has the notion of race been created and maintained over the last 300 years of American history? What are the impacts of racial categories in society? This course will explore the development of the idea of race through anthropological and historical research, and will apply these insights to works of fiction. Students will gain valuable tools for interpreting and discussing a very thorny and problematic topic and for analyzing current events and everyday interactions. Students will choose whether to earn History or English credit through varied assignments, but all students will read the major assigned texts.  

*This course is cross-listed with English. Students will need to choose which department to receive credit in.

Open to all seniors and to juniors with permission of Department Chair.

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