Upper School History

Department:  Upper School

The History Department has the goal of producing graduates who can think, read, and write critically, and who can use this learning to become better citizens of the world. Our students will understand that the way history has been interpreted changes over time, which reflects not only new information about the past becoming available but also the changing perspectives of historians themselves. We want our students to be challenged by rigorous courses that are designed to promote the development of personal opinions as well as to provide a safe space to engage in civil discourse and the discussion of opposing opinions. We want our students to love history as we do and see it as a way to understand the complexity of the human condition.

History IX: Human Geography
This course introduces students to new ways to study society, from economics and demographics to statistical analysis. Students are taken through several themes, like globalization, urbanization, and the spread of language and religion. Students also learn to write analytical essays using varied sources and utilize new technologies to map the larger world. By exposing students to unfamiliar parts of the world, and providing different ways to study those areas, they are prepared to more fully engage the more traditional history courses which follow.

History X: Standard European
This course is a survey of modern European history from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. In addition to a textbook, students read several works of historical fiction. A primary focus of this course is to help students develop a deeper understanding of the historian's craft. To this end, students not only hone key skills necessary for evaulating and using sources to write history but they also produce their own peice of original scholarship over the course of the year. In the process, students learn not only how historians develop topics but also how they efficiently take and arrange notes to produce persuasive arguments.

History X: AP European
This is a rigorous, college-level course that seeks to introduce students to the materials and methods of modern history.  Students should expect to spend one hour every night on the reading assignments, and should expect tests based on the types of questions asked on the national exam. The course covers European history from roughly 1400 to the present.  All along the way, students will be preparing for the European history Advanced Placement exam administered nationally every May.

History XI: Standard US
This introductory course takes the student through the history of the United States from Columbus's encounters with the New World through the present. Students see the wide scope of American history through political, social, and cultural history. Beyond learning the chronological story of America, students grapple with primary sources and learn the steps historians take to understand the past. The course incorporates a textbook for background context but expands with articles, artwork, and historians' analyses. Through writing, students learn to make persuasive arguments supported by evidence.

History XI: AP US
This college introductory course provides the student with a chronological survey of American history from European contact to the present. The course's rigor demands an average of one hour of homework per night. In addition to a textbook, the course places particular focus on teaching students how to analyze and incorporate historical sources into their writing. The course's assignments are oriented toward preparing students for the AP Exam in May.

History XII: Poverty & Social Change
This class offers students the opportunity to approach and learn about social issues and poverty in an academic setting.  This class allows students to go beyond trying to solve social issues and look at the roots of ongoing problems. Students will be asked to consider what they, personally, can do to benefit the larger community. Literature, articles, and history texts will be used to educate the students to the current problems and solutions and compare them to the past.  The goal of this class is to teach students how to ask the right questions so that they can then find answers on their own using their individual talents and personalities.

History XII: FBI & 20th Century American History
In this term-long course, student will be exposed to the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. By looking at its foundation, its key figures, and its critical moments, students will get a greater understanding of this bureau's role in shaping American history in the twentieth century. We will explore the troublesome history of the Bureau in regards to civil rights, its often unchecked authority, and the importance of personality in shaping the Bureau's actions. The course will culminate with a research paper in released FBI files, offering students a chance to not only examine sources few have seen, but also the opportunity to hone skills needed at college.

History: 20th Century - Pacific War
This term elective course will examine World War II in the Pacific including Japan's expansion on the continent, the fighting between Japan and China, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the multifaceted Allied campaign in the Pacific, and the bombing of Japan which culminated in the atom bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The course will examine the major themes of the Pacific War through primary and secondary texts, and also through several films (both documentary and feature) that will help the students get the feel of the times and places central to this conflict.

History: Economics & Entrepreneurship
This year-long course will offer an exploration of classical economics, entrepreneurship, and business ethics through a curriculum that uses both theoretical models and hands-on experience in addressing business opportunities and problems. Students will develop a rigorous grasp of the price theory model, and then will apply their knowledge to projects that require entrepreneurial thinking, such as making aspects of Waterford's program more responsive to the market it serves. In addition, the course will include exercises that explore the ethical foundations of business. Motivated students will have the opportunity to prepare for the AP Microeconomics exam.

History: Environmental History
Much of history treats the environment as only a stage upon which humans acted out the past. In this course, students will challenge the idea that the environment is a static historical actor by examining the environment's role in American history. This course will examine the consequences and responses to how humans have shaped nature (plantations, mines, dams, national parks, hunting practices, suburban backyards), to how nature has altered human history (droughts, insect infestations, floods, earthquakes, disease outbreaks, urban heat waves) and to how the environment has influenced politics and philosophy (Transcendentalism, Deep Ecology, and the Green Party).

History: Environmental Writing
Increasingly, we are confronted with environmental issues every day of our lives, both global and local. On the one hand we are alerted to the fact that the earth's oceans will lose between ten and twenty percent of their coral reefs this year, due to coral bleaching caused by warming ocean waters, and on the other we must decide whether the Mountain Accord is a reasonable compromise that will assure effective stewardship of our beloved Wasatch Mountains into future years. It is ever more important that we develop a deeper understanding of our personal relationship with the earth's environment. This course will provide a chronological survey of American environmental writing from H.D. Thoreau to Terry Tempest Williams. Along the way we will read the essays and creative non-fiction of John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, Barry Lopez, and many others. Throughout, we will try to develop a more thorough understanding of the social, political, and economic dimensions of environmental issues.

History: French Animation
In this elective course, students will study the history of French animation as a way to describe, survive and comprehend some of the most difficult moments in history. Students will study and respond to various pieces of animation (be it film, graphic poem or newspaper cartoon) in order to understand and formulate an opinion on the relationship between the "infantile" medium of animation and its power to communicate complex political, social and personal issues.

History: French Cinema
This course will introduce students to the history and culture of France through the medium of film. The films are intended to engender dialogue about historical and cultural themes, giving students the chance to express themselves on a vareity of topics. This course will be offered in English and all work will be done in English.

History: Historical Methods
In this term-long course, students will critically evaluate major historical methods as they appear in works of fiction. We will consider oral history, the use of archival documents, narrative, and personal experience as ways of establishing authority and legitimacy in historical writing. We will do so through compelling works of literature - Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Dracula, and The Education of Little Tree - that fall along the spectrum from historical fiction to fantastical tales to outright lies.

History: Mexico Through Film
This course will explore the relationship between Mexico and the United States through film and documentary. At a time when immigration reform in the US is a national debate, we will study Mexico from its Revolution in 1910 to the present. This course is offered in English and all work will be done in English.

History: The American Civil Rights' Movement
The Civil Rights class is a term-long class studying the history of the Civil Rights Movement in America. There will be an overview of the historical events at the beginning of the term, and then we will focus on our primary text, David Halberstam’s book, The Children. Halberstam was a newspaper reporter in Nashville, Tennessee, when eight college students and a teacher put to practice the civil disobedience philosophy with sit-ins. These students began in Nashville and ultimately ended up becoming important leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. By reading about a small group of young students making such a difference, the students will be able to not only gain a more intimate view of the sacrifices people made, but also to ask themselves, “What can I do to make a difference?” Other readings and primary documents from both famous leaders as well as ordinary citizens will be referenced as we look at the beginnings of this movement and the philosophies, personalities and politics that shaped this momentous time in American history.

History: Crime and Punishment
On March 28, 1787, attempted regicide Robert-François Damiens was brought to the Place de Grève in Paris for execution. For his crime against the state, he was subjected to the cruelest of early modern punishments: his body was drawn and quartered. Europe was violent beyond imagination in the eighteenth century, and this course will explain the development of criminality, and the philosophical rationales utilized by authorities to justify punishment. Our efforts will concentrate on England and France, and we will pay special attention to shifting senses of masculinity, the development of new criminal behaviors, and the "civilizing process" that reduced crime through a collection of primary and secondary readings.

History: Du Bois's America
W.E.B. Du Bois was born three years after the Civil War and died on the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. During that time he was one of the foremost scholars on race in the United States. The first black man to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard, he struggled throughout his 95 year life to make sense of racism and the meaning of America. In this course we’ll take a deep look at Du Bois’s writing to seek a better understanding of those same topics and the author himself. An ideal college preparation course for those interested in history, literature, or politics.