Through an in-depth study of philosophical texts, students in this course examine fundamental questions about how and why humans organize themselves into political communities. Through substantial excerpts of classical works by thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato, Locke, Hobbes and Kropotkin, students consider questions such as: do we need laws? what is the basis for government's authority to rule? What are humans like naturally; are we cooperative or agressive?
Students are required to write shorter essays (2-4 pages typed) on each major philosopher studied. Sample essay questions might include:
--Aristotle defines things in terms of their function or "telos." Is this way of seeing humans and their institutions helpful or problematic?
--Explain and then critique Hobbes' reasons for saying that we do need government.
In class essay comparing Nozick, Walzer and Rawls
Frequent written responses to readings which include outlining texts, identifying and evaluating key arguments and writing questions for class discussions
The Cold War – the longest and most costly world conflict of the 20th century – was dominated by the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR). This course will explore the U.S. role in the Cold War, the conflicting ideologies of the superpowers, and the ways that U.S. policies shaped the conflict itself, world events, and American life.
A Bipolar World: The introductory unit examines how and why the conflict was waged by the two sides. We will examine the differences between the Soviet and American systems and the strategies that both sides used to gain the advantage.
The project requires students to identify a topic in the Cold War for independent research. The paper must meet the standards for a panel PBAT project.
Periodic Assessments: Most weeks will include a text-based seminar, which will be assessed by a writing task to be completed after the discussion. Every two weeks, on Fridays, there will be an open-notes biweekly assessment, to check on student understanding of vocabulary and course content.
Visual Encyclopedia Project
Students will select a person, event, place, or concept to research. Students will research their topic and write a summary paragraph about the person/event/place/concept and an analysis paragraph to discuss what it reveals either about how the Cold War was fought or why it was fought. The writing will be accompanied by 5-10 captioned images and will be presented in powerpoint format.
Cuban Missile Crisis Simulation
Students will prepare for (independently and in groups) and conduct a simulation of President John F. Kennedy’s options as the world came to the brink of nuclear confrontation in October 1962.
What does it mean to be an American?
Is the use of violence ever justified?
How is history remembered?
History of the United States to 1865, with units of study focusing on Early Humans and Migration to the Americas, Native American Civilizations and the Encounter, British Colonial America, Road to the Revolution, the Constitution, the Early Nation, and Slavery and the Divided Nation.
As all courses at this school, this is designed to develop language skills through the curriculum in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
U.S. regional geography
Mystery of "the starving time" in Jamestown colony
Native American cultures
outside research for essays and projects
Work together to analyze slave narratives and create a presentation to the class, then create a piece of historical fiction based on the presentations
Letter to the Mayor: Should we celebrate Columbus Day?
Create a presentation to the class focusing on one Native American culture
Create complete paragraphs explaining John Locke's beliefs and evaluating them from your own point of view
Effectively debate the American colonies' future in February 1776
Debate issues at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and evaluate their resolution
Debate the ratification of the Constitution from the point of view of either Federalists or Anti-Federalists
Work together to create a presentation that convinces the audience to support either Hamilton's or Jefferson's vision for the new nation
Class trip to Philadelphia and Washington, DC
Speech: Was John Brown a hero or a villain?
Project: What does it mean to be an American?
This course explores economic concepts and human rights in order to investigate the economic roots of human rights abuses around the world. Questions driving this course include:
What rights should be guaranteed to all human beings, to all communities of people?
What is meant by “economy” and “economics”?
How are the 3 main economic questions answered in different systems?
What is the relationship between economics and human rights?
What systems, institutions, and/or policies promote inequalities in human rights?
Research will be based on the topic chosen by the student for the interim assessment or PBAT.
Socratic Seminars and essays on each case study (e.g., Child Labor, Water Access and Control, and Globalization)
Transnational Capital Auction Simulation
Myself at 35 Project
Comparisons on UDHR & African Charter
Cow Plans based on market versus command economy
Our National anthem proclaims us as the, “land of the free and the home of the brave”; yet the man who penned those words, Francis Scott Key, was a slave owner.*
In this course students study the emergence of the United States and its government through the lens of the concept of freedom. The word “freedom” is everywhere you look in the United States throughout history to the present, but how free are we and how free is this country?
Students conduct additional research for two essays in course: Does the U.S. Constitution limit or protect citizens' freedom? and, Who was most influential in ending chattel slavery in the United States?
Class debates on two PBAT questions, PBAT drafts and deadlines
Freedom artistic piece and artist statement
In U.S. History, we explore two units in depth. One unit is called “Rethinking Columbus” and the another unit is called “Inventing America: The Creation of a New Nation.” In units such as these, we work to further develop the skills necessary to write and present PBATs at the end of the semester.
Some recent topics chosen by students have included:
Resistance and Slavery
The most effective and humane methods to make social change
Civil Rights and Justice
Rockefeller Drug Laws and Mass Incarceration
How Revolutionary was the American Revolution?
Columbus and the Taino Indians
Position papers and debates based on the research topics listed above.
There are four major position papers in this course and one is extended into the student's PBAT.
The People v. Columbus, et al trial
The War With Mexico Tea Party
This course will examine the American Civil Rights Movement. Specifically, students will explore the extent to which the civil rights movement was successful at addressing racial violence, segregation, and the fight for access and equality. The basic skills that students will sharpen include understanding point of view and historical context, using evidence from primary and secondary sources to support opinions in writing and in oral presentations, and summarizing, analyzing and addressing opposing opinions in writing.
Students will research the fight to address racial violence, beginning with the slave trade and lynching through the murder of Emmett Till and James Byrd. They will then research the fight to end segregation, from the struggle in Montgomery, Little Rock, and Birmingham to forced busing and Kozol's research on the re-segregation of public schools. Finally, students will research affirmative action, from the famous Bakke v University of California Regents decision to more current battles at the University of Michigan and the Louisville public school district.
Did the CRM successfully address racial violence? (persuasive essay)
Is America still segregated? (persuasive essay)
Do blacks and whites have equal access in American society? (persuasive essay)
Emmett Till vs. James Byrd debate - what do these cases of racial violence suggest about the fight to end lynching in the Unites States?
Segregation RAFT assessment
Affirmative Action debate - Is affirmative action a necessary policy to address past wrongdoing, or is it a racist policy that perpetuates inequality?
Students in this class examine several constitutional questions (e.g. can the Air Force tell its members that they can't wear a cross or a yarmulke or dreadlocks; can a student lead his school in prayer before a football game; can school boards decide to teach intelligent design in addition to evolution; should Native Americans be allowed to smoke peyote - a controlled substance - for religious reasons) by reading Supreme Court cases, by talking to lawyers and other legal experts and by arguing about the cases in class.
Locate answers to multiple questions regarding the US Constitution (a scavenger hunt, of sorts), as well as researching various terms related to constitutional law.
For students undertaking PBAT work in course, briefs and decisions must be supplemented by independent legal research, including precedential cases not discussed in class and law journal (and other newsprint) articles related to the topic.
Case Summaries (resembles a law school case-brief, laying out the facts and holding of a particular case, but also requiring that the student explain the reasoning of the dissent in the case and, at the end of the summary, whether he/she agrees with the holding of the case).
Supreme Court Merits Briefs (acting as a “lawyer,” arguing the case on behalf of one of the parties, both in writing and in oral argument before outside panel of actual lawyers).
Supreme Court Decision (issuing an opinion as a “Justice” having read the briefs, precedential cases, and having heard oral argument by actual lawyers or students acting as lawyers).
Additional Supreme Court Merits Briefs
Final Exam – Law school style hypothetical scenario incorporating different issues from multiple precedential cases, requiring students to synthesize, analyze and evaluate competing claims.