The History Department seeks to help students develop an analytical understanding of the cultures, societies, institutions, leaders, and events that have shaped the broad social evolution of the world and, more specifically, of the United States, preparing them to undertake active and responsible roles in society.
Offering a program of required courses which exposes all students to the study of geography, ancient and medieval history, modern European history, and American history, the department works to instill in students both an awareness of and a curiosity about the ever changing nature of the world in which they live. Through their study of history, students cultivate an informed appreciation for their own culture and national identity, and they develop a new perspective on cultures and traditions that are fundamentally different from their own. Cognizant of its role in "citizen building," the department seeks to provide students with the intellectual and moral foundation for constructive participation in the democratic institutions that affect both their own lives and the lives of those around them. As they actively engage the past and apply a critical and reflective eye to those events that have shaped contemporary society, students achieve a better understanding of their own lives and become prepared for future challenges.
The teaching methodology in all courses includes frequent opportunities for discussion, as well as regular oral presentations by students. Independent student work consists of reading assignments, topical projects, brief analytical papers, and research papers. Essential skills of critical and creative thinking and expository essay writing receive particular emphasis in the upper grades. The department employs various forms of audiovisual media to complement the curriculum.
A history course is required in grades seven, eight, ten, and eleven. Many students pursue electives in their senior year. Upper School courses are taught on AP, honors, and standard levels.