Geography and Global Issues 7
The course centers on the study of physical and human geography and how they
relate to past and current global issues. The different fields of human geography
- population, political, urban, and economic geography fields - are stressed and
provide tools for examining current issues. Students learn the basic methods
geographers use to study the world, including the five themes of geography, and
then explore the role of geography in creating civilization. With this strong
foundation, students begin to study different regions of the world, mainly nonwestern.
Readings on current issues determine the areas studied and become a
focal point in the study of that issue. As students learn of issues present around
the global, they continue to explore the role geography plays in these issues and
use the different fields of human geography to understand better these issues.
Skills emphasized include writing, especially paragraph development; note
taking, both in class and on homework; how to actively participate in
discussions; how to read maps; and how to organize and read data. Students
demonstrate comprehension through projects and on traditional assessments,
including quizzes, tests, writing assignments, and graded participation.
Social Studies 8
Students study the American political institutions, looking at the nation’s
political theory as well as the structure and functioning of various governing
bodies. In addition, students investigate public issues and groups active in
addressing them. After developing expository writing into the essay form they
write a short, documented paper based on their research of a contemporary
World Civilizations I
This course begins the formal study of history by considering the contributions
to Western culture from the early human communities through the ancient world
into Medieval Europe. In addition, the study includes contemporaneous
civilizations in Asia and Africa. Students engage in various class methods,
including lecture, discussion, document analysis, and debate. Work in writing
furthers student skill for preparing effective expository essays. The course
includes methodical instruction for a documented research paper and requires an
examination in December and June.
World Civilizations II
This course continues the study of Western culture and of societies in Asia,
Africa, and the Americas, after AD 1350. Text, documentary, and literary
sources present political, economic, social, and intellectual history. The
foremost goal of the course is to help students learn about the complex origins of
our contemporary world. A formal research paper is required, as are
examinations in December and June. After consultation with the teacher, some
students may want to prepare for the World History SAT II.
United States History
This course begins with the European colonization in the western hemisphere,
continuing chronologically and thematically to the present day. The study
surveys significant events, individuals, and issues in our national experience.
Beyond the standard text students may use primary source material, literature,
and scholarly journals in preparation for discussion, simulation exercises, and
lectures. A research paper which develops a thesis is required during the second
trimester and December and June examinations are required. Students, after
consulting with their teacher, may elect to prepare for the American History and
Social Studies SAT II and/or, with extra study, the United States History
Advanced Placement examination.
The course provides a thorough study of the African-American experience in
both Africa and North America based on extensive readings and class
discussion. The course is divided into five seminars:
1) the African origins of black culture
2) the history of the black family
3) the history of racism and race relations
4) the history of the black church and Islam
5) the history of black nationalism.
Students read a broad range of sources written by African and African-American
authors, including: standard texts, popular literature, primary source documents,
articles from contemporary periodicals; they will also use various audio/visual
resources. Each seminar culminates with a writing assignment, individual
project or graded discussion. Additionally, there is a required December
Contemporary Global Issues
The end of the Cold War era witnessed the changing nature of national and
international politics and the global economy. This seminar course examines this
significant shift in recent world history and seeks to understand the current state
of the world and its possible future characterized by accelerated urbanization,
industrialization and globalization. The following topics are considered: the rise
and influence of multinational corporations, population increase and its regional
and global implications, the growing issue of wealth distribution around the
world and its effects, free trade policies and an increasingly interconnected
global economy, climate change - its impact on the physical environment, and
its political and economic effects globally, and the wars against terror and
The course is reading intensive, and includes a number of books, journals and
articles. Since it is taught as a seminar, interest in critical thinking and a
commitment to participate actively in class discussion are required. Class
activities include reading summaries and discussions, films and documentaries,
guest speakers, reaction papers and student presentations. Several tests and the
December examination are required.
Literature and History
“History is a novel that has been lived,” wrote Edward Degoncourt. In this
course, students read historical novels, poems, short stories, and essays and
discuss them in a seminar setting. Students are assigned research on the
historical background underlying the works studied; they present their findings
to the class. This information provides historical context to the works students
read. A partial list of the readings include Bernard Malamud’s The Fixer, a
novel of anti-Semitism set in pre-revolutionary Kiev; Charles Frazier’s Civil
War story Cold Mountain; Dennis Bock’s tale of the consequences of atomic
warfare at Hiroshima, The Ash Garden; Erich Remarque’s saga of trench
warfare in WWI, All Quiet On The Western Front; and Tim O’Brien’s novel In
The Lake Of The Woods, a story about the consequences of trying to bury the
past for a Vietnam War veteran. Numerous poems are also read, from such
standards as Tennyson’s Charge Of The Light Brigade to lesser-known works,
such as Yevtuschenko’s Babi Yar. Evaluation is based on class participation,
tests, quizzes, essays, and historical presentations about the readings and
authors. Students take the December final examination.
This seminar explores the political and ethical decisions behind some recent and
some historical scientific issues. Led by both a science and a history teacher,
students explore the science behind the issues before confronting the political
and ethical ramifications of them. Students are evaluated (written and orally) on
their knowledge of the science and its political and ethical implications and are
expected to be active participants in both segments of the class - the scientific
component as well as the implications component, which are weighted equally.
Contemporary issues covered may include: gene therapy, cloning, medical
marijuana, the genetics of race, HIV and AIDS, and the ethics of human and
animal experimentation. Historical issues addressed may include: the use of
research by Nazi scientists, the Tuskegee experiments, and the human radiation
experiments. Students have the opportunity to select some topics studied. A
sample approach follows: if the topic was stem cells, students would learn what
stems are, and what applications they might have, before considering the ethical
implications of such research, and whether or not the government should fund
research into stem cells.
United States History Since 1945
The period in American history following World War II was an era of puzzling
contradictions. The United States emerged from the war as the world’s only true
economic and military superpower. Most Americans were very optimistic,
believing that the U.S. could use this power to create a more peaceful world
while producing seemingly limitless prosperity at home. By 1974, these
expectations had all but vanished. American history since then has been
dominated by an effort to recapture that sense of optimism.
By examining the post-war era’s most important political, social, and cultural
developments, this seminar seeks to explain this transformation and its longterm
ramifications. Topics include McCarthyism, the Cold War, the Vietnam
War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the social and cultural upheavals of the
60s and their legacies. While the focus is on 1945 - 1974, the course also
touches on significant developments in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s.
In addition to reading histories of the period, students examine a wide variety of
primary source materials. Along with more traditional sources, the seminar also
explores contemporary art, music, film, and literature. Since the course is taught
as a seminar, interest in critical thinking and a genuine desire to participate
actively in class discussions are essential. Class activities include group
discussion, debates, film and documentary viewing, and student presentations.
Several tests and essays and the December examination are required.
Urban Issues and Design
Using the St. Louis metropolitan area, this course studies current problems
within the urban environment. Issues examined include poverty, crime,
homelessness, education, economic development, transportation, pollution, and
revitalization efforts. Students explore these issues, their causes, and how they
are being addressed in the St. Louis area. Students learn how the modern
American city came to be, what are the current trends in urban design, and how
urban design can either exacerbate or mitigate the problems afflicting cities.
Students meet with St. Louis developers, planners, and community development
agencies as they explore the St. Louis area. Along with the study of current
issues, students read selections from James Howard Kunstler, Andres Duany,
Leon Dash, Elijah Anderson, Alex Kotlowitz, Jonathan Kozol, Jane Jacobs, and
others. A final project is required at the end of the first trimester.
Concentration in Urban Issues
This course is for those interested in non-profit work, community organizing or
social work. In addition to taking Urban Issues and Design, students volunteer
after school, with the advice of the instructor, at a social service agency in the
St. Louis area during their fall and/or winter free season and physical education
season. An average of 2 hours of volunteer work per week is required but
students may opt to complete all volunteer work during their off sports season.
Students learn about qualitative research methods and use them to create an online
blog reflecting on and exploring their experience and the issues they
encounter during their volunteer work. The blog is a dialogue between the
student and instructor about the issues facing urban environments today.
Students are graded on successfully completing their volunteer work and their
written work exploring urban issues.
Concentration in Urban Design
This course is for those seriously interested in pursuing architecture in the
future. In addition to taking Urban Issues and Design, students have two
additional periods for work in the industrial technology lab creating a site plan
and three-dimensional architectural plan for an actual St. Louis site chosen with
the advice of the instructor. Students study more intensively the design
principles explored in Urban Issues and Design and apply them to their
architectural plan. Students are graded on their final project and ability to meet