The goal of the History Department is to develop in each student the historical knowledge, skills, and curiosity that are essential to being thoughtful and responsible citizens of the world. Throughout the History Department's curriculum and course offerings, faculty and students discuss, interpret, interrogate and write about the political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual developments of mankind from the earliest moments through the present. The department also incorporates subjects that are classified as social sciences, ranging from the field of psychology to economics and financial investing.
History classes at Prep cultivate critical thinking, curiosity, passion and an ability to approach information and questions from an historical perspective. Whether reading the Bhagavad Gita, assessing Abraham Lincoln’s role in ending slavery, representing Israel in an international negotiation, debating the issues in an upcoming election or contemplating the qualities of a good life, students and teachers delve deeply into the controversies and unresolved questions that make history a vibrant and dynamic discipline.
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History 7th Grade (Geography)
In this course, students learn how space defines the human experience while practicing social studies skills such as political analysis, historical interpretation and map reading. During the first semester, students focus on global studies and current events, understanding key concepts about various regions, countries and cities. The second semester’s focus on Los Angeles history and culture begins with urban planning. Students then study topics ranging from mission and rancho culture to the water wars of the early 1900s and the race riots of the early 1990s. Students show their understanding of concepts by completing individual and group assignments, including research projects, essays, oral histories and class presentations.
History 8th Grade (US History)
This course treats United States history thematically, focusing on the enduring ideals of the Revolution, the continuing centrality of the Constitution, the drivers of social reform movements, the legacy of the Civil War and the concept of total war. Students discuss current events every day, leading to discussions about the United States' role in world affairs as well as its responsibilities at home. The course emphasizes engaged discussion, reflective writing, and thoughtful reading of primary and secondary sources.
World History 1
This course is a survey of global history prior to 1500, with a focus on Mediterranean civilizations, Islam, Imperial China, Hinduism and Pre-Columbian America. The course probes historical events and trends of worldwide importance and highlights essential characteristics of the cultures and civilizations of Europe, Western and Eastern Asia, Africa and the Americas. Students examine the political, cultural, economic, geographic, religious and philosophical differences, similarities and interactions of the major world regions. One goal is that students gain an appreciation and an acceptance of the diversity as well as the commonality of world cultures. Students are also guided through a step-by-step introduction to the research paper process.
World History 2
This course is a continuation of World History I, 1500 to the present. In the first three quarters, students tackle one region at a time: Africa, China, India, America and Europe. Major topics include the rise of nation states, imperialism, the industrial revolution, the Enlightenment and constitutionalism versus absolutism. In the last quarter of the year, students focus on World Wars I and II and the Cold War. Current events regularly appear in class discussions, and speakers with backgrounds in global studies share their experiences with the class.
AP European History
This course covers European history from the Renaissance and Reformation through contemporary issues such as immigration and European Union integration. Lectures emphasize debates among historians, such as why Europe and not another region came to colonize the world, and these lectures segue naturally into the lively student-driven discussions at the heart of the course. Students read thinkers from Machiavelli to Freud and thus grapple directly with the most important ideas and events that have shaped the Western tradition. A research project focusing on the 18th century hones students' writing and investigation skills, while a role play involving the major figures in the French Revolution develops students' historical imaginations. Students who are successful in this class will be qualified to take the Advanced Placement exam.
United States History (US History)
This course is a survey of American history from the colonial period to the end of the twentieth century. Through news reports, role plays and debates, students engage actively with the issues that animate American history and trace the many ways that this history continues to shape our world today. Students hone their writing skills through in-class essays and a major research paper; meanwhile, a vibrant culture of daily discussion encourages students to articulate their perspectives on the past and its lessons for the present.
AP United States History
This full-year course is a rigorous survey of American history from the era before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492 to the present. Themes include the environment, American identity, politics, peoples, the economy, America in world culture. With assignments such as analytical essays, research projects, historical debates and role playing, students learn to understand as well as craft a historical interpretation or argument. Students who are successful in this class will be qualified to take the Advanced Placement exam.
AP Art History
This full-year course surveys the global history of art from prehistory to the present. Students examine art as an expression of culture and a medium of cultural critique. Students are particularly encouraged to analyze critically the interaction between works of art and their social, political and cultural context. The course helps students develop the necessary vocabulary and methodologies for the examination of visual media. Students are exposed to art and art history through slides, primary and secondary texts, independent research, oral presentations and museum visits, including field trips to museums throughout Los Angeles. Students who are successful in this class will be qualified to take the Advanced Placement exam.
This semester-long course explores a variety of topics in the areas of macroeconomics, microeconomics, economic theory and contemporary issues. The use of projects, tests, papers and lecture-discussion allows students to engage with economics both intellectually and personally. The final assignment is an economic assessment of a company of the student’s choosing.
Great Books Seminar Honors
This semester-long seminar course introduces students to significant writings and ideas of western civilization. Through discussion, students analyze and examine the works of Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Freud, Shaw, Locke, Hobbes, Marx and Engels. The course strongly emphasizes the logical, rational use of the intellect. Participation in class discussions and the preparation of comprehensive papers synthesizing ideas from the texts and class discussions are fundamental to the course.
This semester-long course examines those factors that promote both cooperation and conflict between and among nation-states. Topics covered in the course include rules of effective diplomacy, economic development, the use of force and human rights. The centerpiece of the course is a simulation exercise in which the class assumes the identity of a contemporary nation. The students then develop diplomatic relations with several West Coast schools also posing as nations. Communication among the schools/nations takes place online over a number of weeks, culminating in a face-to-face conference. The first third of the course is devoted to preparing for the simulation, the middle third to the simulation itself and the final third to a continuation of the study of the principles of international studies.
This full-year, 1/2-unit course is designed to introduce students to the world of investments. Students learn how to research and evaluate companies and industries. They make real investment recommendations and decisions based upon original research. The course particularly emphasizes online research and public speaking skills.
This full-year, 1/2-unit lab course gives students a view of psychology as a scientific discipline, with applications in Prep’s peer counseling program. The course presents a comprehensive look at widely varying psychological theories and methods of therapy, with emphasis on the terminology of the psychologist. The course work focuses on the principles of social psychology, with applications made to real-life settings. All students serve as mentors to incoming 7th and 9th grade students and participate in a capstone project with AP Statistics students to design, execute and analyze psychology experiements.
AP US Government
This full-year course gives students an overview of important facts and concepts in U.S. government and politics. Topics include the Constitution, federalism, political behavior, political parties, interest groups, the media, public policy and the three branches of government, with daily discussions of national political news serving as examples of the concepts studied. Landmark Supreme Court cases in the area of civil rights and civil liberties are the basis for written and oral arguments. Students will also study criminal law and procedure and engage in a mock trial. Students who are successful in this class will be qualified to take the Advanced Placement exam.