History & Social Sciences

The CGPS history curriculum is designed with the following goals in mind: to foster lifelong intellectual curiosity and engagement; to develop analytical and critical thinking skills; to hone clear written and verbal communication skills; and to use historical inquiry to promote empathetic and responsible global citizens.

The program expands on the skills students learned in the Grammar and Middle School, focuses on research, written and oral expression, analysis of primary and secondary sources, and analytical, research and writing skills. Students gain critical reading acumen and an understanding of history from different points of view. 

Course Offerings

History 9

Grade 9 examines the history of the United States beginning with the Colonial Era. Emphasis is placed on analyzing key themes that have driven events in US history, as well as developing an understanding of the similarities between historic events and situations in contemporary American society. The units of study include: The Colonial Era and Independence, The US Constitution and the Formation of Government, Slavery, Sectionalism and Westward Expansion, the Civil War and Reconstruction, Industrialization and the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, World Wars and the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights Movement.

History 10: Modern Global History

Tenth grade Modern Global History examines the modern world beginning with a brief overview of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Students examine how the ideas of the Enlightenment and French Revolution spread and how subsequent revolutions changed the course of history. Themes covered include the formation of nation-states, and the rise of nationalism, imperialism, decolonization and globalization. Units include: Enlightenment and the Revolutionary Fall-out, Industrial Revolution and the Rise of the Modern World, Imperialism, Nationalism and WWI, the Rise of Totalitarianism and WWI, Cold War and Decolonization, and the End of History.

History & Social Electives

About our Electives program: A hallmark of Columbia Prep is the value placed on individual students and their interests. Beginning in the ninth grade, the curriculum offers many electives in art, music, theater, technology and physical education. As the students progress through high school, they are given increasing autonomy to choose their courses and, by the time they reach their junior and senior years, they are creating their entire academic programs in all subjects—English, history, math, science, world language and all other elective courses. Harnessing and building upon their passions within the context of our courses results in interested, successful and independent graduates who are ready for the next educational step in their lives. The elective system allows for flexibility in course offerings, so no two academic years are identical.

History & Social Electives: Some previous History & Social electives offered in the Prep School are:

The Pacific War
Consumer Culture
Genocide in the XX and XXI Centuries
Modern Latin American History
America and the Vietnam War
The Politics of Food
History of New York City
Japan Through Film 1949-2011
Conquest: The Portuguese, Dutch and English Empires in the East Indies and the Orient
Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in America
A Brief History of World Religions 
Renaissance: Birth of the Modern World

AP Human Geography

AP Human Geography introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. The content is presented thematically around the discipline’s subfields: economic geography, cultural geography, political geography and urban geography. This approach is spatial and problem-oriented. Students are engaged in reading and interpreting geographic models, digital maps and graphic data.

AP Psychology

AP Psychology introduces students to the science of mind and behavior, with a strong emphasis on “science”: understanding the methods that allow psychologists to test their theories empirically—and assessing the obstacles faced by a science whose original subject, the mind, eludes objective description—is a central learning goal. That goal includes a critical awareness of what the science of the brain contributes to the modern understanding of our mental functions and the laws of our behavior. Students learn about consciousness and about unconscious mental processes, about how humans perceive their environments and their emotions; they learn how humans learn, think and remember; and they learn how our cognitive and social abilities—and needs—develop through the lifespan. They learn how to describe and explain differences in personality, how to assess psychological disorders, and how therapists attempt to treat them. By the end of the class, students have learned what college students learn in an introductory class on psychology.

AP US History

AP US History is designed to be equivalent to a two-semester introductory college course in US History. Students examine the political, diplomatic, economic, social, intellectual, ideological and cultural history and development of the United States from 1491 to today. It is a demanding course that is designed to help students hone their analytical and critical thinking skills. Students learn to assess historical materials, to interpret them and to consider different points of views and possible biases. They develop skills to arrive at conclusions based on an informed analysis of the data presented and to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively, both orally and written. 

AP World History

AP World History spans the significant events and developments of world history from approximately 8000 BCE to the present. From the Paleolithic Period and Neolithic Revolution through the Columbian Exchange into the Industrial Revolution and the Modern Era, this course focuses on broad patterns of history across both time and space. Designed to be the equivalent of a two-semester introductory college course, it employs the same skills, practices and methods historians use. Students analyze primary and secondary sources, develop historical arguments, and make comparisons and connections across five themes and six chronological periods as determined by the College Board. 

Tufts University Seminar

Taught in conjunction with the Institute of Global Leadership at Tufts University, this seminar reflects the latest thinking in this field. Each year, students analyze a topic established by the Institute both as a historical phenomenon and an analytical-legal concept. Previous topics have included genocide, migration, the future of Europe, petroleum and water, global health, and Putin and the 21st century, among others. Throughout the year, students interact via the internet with Tufts students taking a parallel course. Every participant engages in meaningful research activities and essay-writing assignments, and class activities mostly center around seminar-style discussions. Though each year the seminar has its own thematic focus, the objectives remain the same. Students participate in collaborative and active learning; hone critical thinking skills by engaging in discussion, argumentation, debate, information literacy, planning and strategy, project creation and management; engage in creative problem-solving; gain confidence in inquiry; and participate in research writing and oral communication to develop a personal voice.