The Ancient World (201F)
Fall Semester Freshman Requirement
This course examines the evolution of ancient civilizations from the Neolithic Revolution to the decline of the Roman Empire. We will explore the major concepts, values, institutions, and developments amongst a diverse group of early civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Classical Greece, the Hellenistic World, and Ancient Rome. Critical analysis will assess the social, political, economic, and cultural factors that shaped classical civilizations. This course utilizes interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches toward learning about the historical evolutions of the ancient world.
Develop analytical reading and research skills through various activities geared to access, manage, and evaluate information from print and electronic sources.
Critically understand the interconnectedness of government, economics, culture, and religion on the key social developments and ideologies of the ancient world.
Create numerous forms of thematic essays incorporating analytical thought and detailed historical evidence.
Design visual representations of their historical learning with digital technologies.
Connect historical content to contemporary issues in the following topics: leadership, health, sustainability, mobility, financial literacy, urban planning, tolerance, and identity.
Medieval Empires (212S)
Spring Semester Freshman Requirement
This course introduces students to the empires of the medieval world, roughly 500-1500 C.E. Students will be exposed to the major types of primary sources available in English translation, and will develop facility in reading, analyzing, and interpreting both primary and secondary sources. Religion will be a central theme in this study of feudal Europe and the Byzantine Empire as well as the social hierarchy that these societies borrowed and adapted from Roman and so-called barbarian cultures. We will examine how medieval empires dealt with social, cultural, and economic change, and competed with one another for cultural dominance.
Explain divergent structures of feudal societies.
Identify social, religious, and economic forces that shaped medieval societies.
Analyze primary source texts in order to gain insight into competing medieval perspectives.
Explain the role of disease in transforming medieval society.
Identify cross-cultural influences as a result of warfare and trade.
Explain conditions that lead to the end of the Byzantine Empire and laid the foundations for European Renaissance.
The Modern World(220f)
This course will explore the intellectual, social, and political movements that helped to shape modern history. From 16th century Florence to 18th century Paris to 19th century Tokyo and beyond, we seek to answer the question, what is modernity? In addition to reading the works of major thinkers and researching the seminal events that define the modern era, students will also consider the meaning of history itself. What is history? Rather than simply asking, “what happened?” the historian should always ask the more involved question, “why did this happen at this time?” Through the posing of this latter question, modern historical inquiry becomes an attempt to come to a deeper understanding of what it means to be human throughout various times, places, and cultures. Ultimately, history allows us to experience the immensity and grandeur of the world as well as locate ourselves in it, while helping us to understand and critique our own culture by contemplating the experiences of those who preceded us.
Analyze ways in which societies have come into contact and interacted with one another through commercial exchange, cultural diffusion, migration, conquest, and military conflict.
Describe the development and explain the significance of distinctive forms of political, social, and economic organization.
Identify major discoveries, inventions, and scientific achievements, as well as assess their impact on specifics societies and the world as a whole.
Identify achievements in art, architecture, literature, and philosophy, and assess their relationship to historical change.
The World Since 1945 (223S)
Its emphasis is on global Cold War and post-Cold War politics with a focus outside the United States and Western Europe. Topics include anti-colonial movements and decolonization, the spread of the European-style nation- state model to the decolonizing world, the legacy of European imperialism and the contest between capitalist and Communist forms of government in the post-colonial world, the fall of European Communism and effects on the rest of the world, 1990s genocides in Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, post-Cold War globalization, and the rise of Islamism as an anti-globalist ideology. Student learning will be assessed using a combination of quizzes, tests, and a guided final research paper.
Identify and analyze major events, people, and policies critical to understanding the evolution of the decolonizing world, following World War II.
Recognize similarities among and differences between various 20th century anti-colonial movements.
Understand the global contest between capitalist and communist forms of government in the decolonizing world—as well as the status of the “nonaligned world”—during the Cold War, and the status of capitalism and communism as competing forms of “modernity.”
American History 1865-Present: An American Studies Approach (204S)
American Studies is an integrated and interdisciplinary understanding of American culture rooted in the disciplines of history and literature. Accordingly, the social sciences and humanities serve as the foundation of the course, supplemented by music, art history, film studies, architecture, gender studies, ethnic studies, and other fields of inquiry.
Economics This is a multidimensional course that attempts to blend economic theory, core macro- and micro-economic principles, and a rich discussion of those applications to contemporary economic problems. It will focus on current modern global and national economic issues including the political climate surrounding the United States national debt. Additionally, this course lays the foundation for personal economic and financial literacy.
Correctly apply economic theory to historical and contemporary economic problems.
Explain the salient features of a modern market economy.
Discuss verbally and in writing the role of the United States in today’s global economy.
Cite recent economic scandals and the connection to the ongoing debate about governmental regulation.
Comparative Genocide (241S)
This seminar examines acts of state-sponsored murder that meet the definition of genocide as outlined by the United Nations Conventions on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), to include, but not limited to, the Herero, Armenians, the Holodomor, the Final Solution, the killing fields of Cambodia, and Rwanda. We will also look at what have been called “contested genocides,” those lacking a scholarly consensus as to whether the term genocide can be accurately and fairly applied. This includes such events as the Atlantic slave trade, treatment of indigenous peoples, area bombing, nuclear war, and sanctions against Iraq, to name but a few. The world continually hears of Elie Wiesel’s noble vow of “never again,” but nations have resorted to genocide in numerous instances since World War II. This seminar, therefore, aims to look at the historical forces that led to genocide, to identify its perpetrators and victims, to detail the salient features of the atrocity, to discuss the response of the international community, and to examine the resolution of the conflict, including trials at the International Criminal Court and other judicial bodies.
One of the most important goals of the seminar is to encourage each student to develop an informed response to genocide in the modern world, a perspective that reflects the student’s political, religious, and moral beliefs. In the rapidly changing, technologically advanced, and interdependent 21st century, this will ideally better arm our students for active citizenship in the difficult century ahead. The seminar will primarily be discussion with pointed Socratic questioning covering the assigned readings. There will be ample documentaries, several popular films, compelling music, and several guest speakers. There will be a couple of tests, a few short papers, and a final project that constitutes 25% of the grade.
Cite the five components of genocide as defined by the United Nations in 1948.
Define “contested genocide” and offer reasoned arguments why a particular incident meets that criteria.
Explain the context of the Armenian genocide and Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge the label.
Offer a sophisticated analysis of the Nazis’ “Final Solution.”
Explain the international community’s response to modern genocides in the Balkans, Rwanda, and Darfur.
Articulate a personal definition of genocide based on informed study of the subject.
International Relations (242F)
Junior and Senior Elective
This course introduces students to the dynamics existing between nation-states in the 21st century. The course shall cover topics such as sovereignty, diplomacy, rights, hegemony, globalization, the environment, and the use of both hard and soft power. Students will participate in a simulation program in which they represent the interests of a nation in negotiations with other nations (represented by other schools in the simulation) about a variety of salient issues. These negotiations will take place both on-line and face-to-face. The course will examine several theoretical bases of international relations, including, but not limited to, realism, neo- conservatism, neo-liberalism, and Marxism. Because it is impossible to understand international relations without a solid grounding in knowledge of the economic interactions between nations, the Washington Consensus, the WTO, and the protectionism/free trade debate will also be foci of discussion. Students will be evaluated through tests, papers, and participation. Because of the centrality of the simulation to the course, participation will form a relatively high proportion of the grade. Reading materials will include selections from periodical media.
Identify and analyze the various major theories of International Relations.
Identify and critique the contributions to the field of major contemporary (Mearsheimer, Morgenthau, Kagan, Zizek) and historical (Kant, Hegel, Marx) theorists.
Show understanding of major contemporary IR issues including (but not limited to) WMD, climate change, free trade, currency issues, and immigration.
Philosophy of Belief (218F)
What does it mean to believe in a higher power? When did humans begin to believe the divine exists? How has Belief manifested over time? In this course, students will begin to ask and answer these questions. Students will read theories from human evolution on when humans began to believe in higher powers. Students will also learn from the works of Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and others. Finally, we will conduct a survey of various ways in which Belief has manifested in history by examining ritual, myth, symbol, and the afterlife.
Understand how religious belief can shape or be shaped by various forms of human expression.
Understand how religions can shape and be shaped by social and political structures.
Improve one's ability to read, understand, and discuss a variety of primary sources such as philosophical texts, scriptures of religions, rules for religious practice, and liturgical instructions.
Improve one’s ability to knowledgeably speak and discuss religious practice and belief.
Theories of Justice (244F)
What is the right thing to do? Is there always a right thing to do? How can we make fair laws? These questions, and others like them, have formed the core of Moral Philosophy for over 2000 years. In this course we will be examining the answers that great philosophers from ancient Greece to the present day have given to these questions. Schools of thought to be discussed include, but are not limited to, the virtue ethics of Aristotle, Kant’s deontology, and the utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill.
Identify the tenets of major theories of ethical thought, and the primary theorists associated with each theory.
Identify and analyze the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each theory.
Analyze political and social issues through the lenses of the various theories.
Apply these theories to issues arising in students’ own lives.