Academics
A Notre Dame Education

Social Studies

Philosophy

The Social Studies Curriculum of Notre Dame High School is designed to stimulate critical thinking, promote social justice based on Catholic Christian principles, encourage patriotic involvement, and develop respect for national and cultural differences.  The curriculum emphasizes an understanding of contemporary economic, social, and political realities and future challenges. 
The Social Studies Curriculum should enable the student to develop:

1.  Civic responsibility and active civic participation.

2.  Perspectives on their own life experiences so they see themselves as part of the human community.

3.  A critical understanding of the historical, geographic, economic, political, and social institutions,  traditions, and values of the United States.

4.  Critical attitudes and analytical perspectives appropriate to understanding humanity.

Courses Offered

List of 21 items.

  • Early Global Studies

    This semester-long course allows students to develop the fundamental skills of historical writing, critical analysis, and technology through a curriculum that explores historical figures, events, art, religion, literature, and geography. The course integrates technologies such as Keynote, iWeb, and iMovie into units on the Islamic, Chinese, Japanese, and European worlds from c. 6000 C.E. to 1600. Student outcomes include analysis of primary and secondary sources, analytical writing, and a document-based paper. The specific units and themes change from year to year, but the focus on historical skills will remain the same. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This is a required course for all 9th-grade students who are not enrolled in  Ancient World History 9. (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • World History

    This course will have students explore the world’s civilizations, including their historical, cultural, political, social, and geographical dimensions. Emphasis will be placed on the period from 1450 to the present.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This is a required course for all 10th-grade students not taking Honors World History, AP European History, or AP World History. (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • Ancient World History

    In this course, students will study world history from the ancient period through the postclassical period (approximately 1450 CE). The course will use a thematic approach that allows students to make connections across units of study. Students will develop and practice the skills of primary source analysis, historical reasoning about comparison, causation, and continuity and change over time, and evidence-based writing. The course is intended to prepare students for Advanced Placement history in the sophomore year. As a 9th grade, foundation class, this course does not receive the UC Honors designation. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - HSTP Qualifying Score and concurrent enrollment in Honors English I.  Students taking Ancient World History 9 (H) are not required to take Early Global Studies.  (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • Honors World History

    This course will have students explore the world’s civilizations, including their historical, cultural, political, social, and geographical dimensions from the period of 1450 to the present. Emphasis will be placed on developing Advanced Placement skills through reading and analyzing primary documents and writing to facilitate casting a thesis and marshaling evidence to support a valid generalization.

    Prerequisites/Comments - B+ in Early Global Studies and maintain a GPA of 3.50 for both semesters. The second semester Early Global Studies students may register if their first semester GPA is 3.50 or higher, with the understanding that they must earn a B+ in Early Global Studies. Students also must earn a minimum of a B in College Prep English I or a B- in Honors English I for both the first and second semesters. Incoming freshman who qualifies must take Honors English I concurrently. Summer reading is required. Placement is also based on department evaluation, including the student’s aptitude for advanced study as reflected in his or her work ethic, class participation, critical thinking, and writing skills. (UC “a” Social Studies - UC Honors) 
  • AP World History: Modern

    Students in this course will investigate significant historical events and developments from 1200 to the present. Students will develop and use the following skills: Analyzing primary and secondary sources; developing historical arguments; and utilizing reasoning about comparison, causation, and continuity, and change over time. The course provides several themes that students explore throughout the course to make connections among historical developments. The course is intended to prepare students for the AP World History exam in the spring.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Students must earn a minimum of a B- both semesters in their most recent  AP social studies class (AP Euro, AP US, etc.) or an A in both semesters in their most recent College Prep social studies course. Rising sophomore must have an A - in Early Global Studies or a B+ in both semesters of Freshman Honors Ancient World History. All students must have B- both semesters in Honors/AP English course the previous year or A- both semesters in College Prep English. Open to students in grades 10, 11, and 12. Placement is also based on department evaluation, including the student’s aptitude for advanced study as reflected in their work ethic, class participation, critical thinking, and writing skills.  (UC “a” Social Studies - UC AP/Honors) 
  • AP European History

    This course has a dual purpose: understanding of European civilization since 1450 and preparation for the AP European History exam. Emphasis will be placed on reading and analyzing original sources and primary documents. Students’ critical thinking and writing skills will be developed. Per the recommendation of the College Board, students taking an AP course should expect 1-2 hours of homework per night. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Students must earn a minimum of a B- both semesters in their most recent  AP social studies class (AP Euro, AP US, etc.) or an A in both semesters in their most recent College Prep Social Studies course. Rising sophomore must have an A- in Early Global Studies or a B+ in both semesters of Freshman Honors Ancient World History. Students taking an Honors/AP English course in the previous year must earn a B- first and second semester. Students in College Prep English must earn an A- both semesters. This course is open to qualified students in grades 10, 11, and 12. Placement is also based on department evaluation, including the student’s aptitude for advanced study as reflected in his or her work ethic, class participation, critical thinking, and writing skills. (UC “a” Social Studies - UC AP/Honors) 
  • AP Human Geography

    This course has a dual purpose: to provide students with a college-level course in human geography and to prepare students for the AP Human Geography Exam. Students will be introduced to the patterns and processes shaping the human understanding of the Earth’s surface. Students will learn the methods and tools used by professional geographers. Per the recommendation of the College Board, students in AP courses should expect 1-2 hours of homework per night. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - B- both semesters in their most recent AP social studies class (AP Euro, AP  US, etc.) or an A both semester in their most recent College Prep Social Studies course or B+ in Honors World History. Rising sophomores must have an A- in Early Global Studies. Also, students must have a B- both semesters in Honors/AP English or A- both semesters in College Prep English. This course is open to students in grades 10, 11, and 12. Placement is also based on department evaluation, including the student’s aptitude for advanced study as reflected in his or her work ethic, class participation, critical thinking, and writing skills.  (UC “a” Social Studies - UC AP/Honors; ND Elective) 
  • United States History

    This course studies all major aspects of the American nation from colonial times to the present. The political, social, economic, and constitutional challenges resulting from the rise of the United States to its status as a world power are also covered. The course emphasizes writing, primary source reading, current events, map study, and group projects.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Required course for all 11th grade students not taking AP U.S History (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • AP United States History

    This course has a dual purpose: greater understanding of United States history and preparation for the AP United States History exam. Emphasis is placed upon developing analytical skills in order to recognize historical themes and historical interpretations while reading primary documents. Per the recommendation of the College Board, students taking an AP course should expect 1-2 hours of homework per night. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is open to qualified students in grade 11. Students in AP  European History must earn a B- for the first and second semesters. Students in Honors World History must earn a B + for the first and second semesters. Students in World History must earn an A- for the first and A second semesters. Students taking an Honors/AP English course in the previous year must earn a B- first and second semester. Students in College Prep English must earn a B+ both semesters. Summer reading is required and part of the first-semester grade. Placement is based on department evaluation, including the student’s aptitude for advanced study as reflected in his or her work ethic, class participation, critical thinking, and writing skills. (UC “a” Social Studies - US AP/Honors) 
  • US Government

    This survey course is designed to introduce students to the American political system. It will focus on three major areas of study: (1) The origins of self-government and the philosophical foundations of the American system. (2) A vigorous examination of America’s principal political documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) and the enduring principles expressed by and developed from these documents. (3) The mechanics and operations of American federal, state, and local government. Current events are an integral part of the class.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Grade 12 only. All 12th-grade students must take either this class or AP Government and Politics. (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • AP Government & Politics

    This course has a dual purpose: a greater understanding of the American political system and preparation for the AP Government and Politics test. Emphasis will be placed on reading and analyzing original sources and primary documents. The development of critical thinking and writing skills will be emphasized throughout the semester. Per the recommendation of the College Board, students taking an AP course should expect 1-2 hours of homework per night. 

    Prerequisites/Comments -Grade 12 only: All 12th-grade students must take either U.S. Government or this course - AP Government and Politics. Students in AP United States History must earn a B– for the first and second semesters. Students in college prep United States History must earn an A– for the first semester and second semesters. (H) Econ or AP Microeconomics must be taken concurrently with AP Gov’t. Summer reading is a requirement and part of the semester grade. (UC “a” Social Studies - UC AP/Honors) 
  • Economics

    Economics is a survey course that introduces students to micro and macroeconomics. Students will study basic economic concepts such as the role of the U.S. government, the behavior of the capitalist system, and the larger global economy.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Grade 12 only. This is a required course for all 12th-grade students not taking Honors Political Economics or AP Microeconomics. (UC “g” Elective) 

    NOTE ON ECONOMICS: Students may take only one Economics course (regardless of level).
  • Honors Political Economy

    This course has a dual purpose: a greater understanding of the interactions between our political and economic systems and the development of the critical and analytical skills to deal with the challenges of globalization. Substantial outside readings throughout the semester will be included.

    Prerequisites/Comments - Grade 12 only. This course is for qualified 12th-grade students. Students in AP United States History must earn a B– for the first and second semesters. Students in college prep U.S. History must earn an A– for the first and second semesters. Summer reading is a requirement and part of the semester grade. (UC “g” Elective - UC Honors) 
  • AP Microeconomics

    This semester course will prepare students for the AP Microeconomics exam and will emphasize basic economics concepts. Students will understand supply and demand, and predict consumer and producer behavior. The development of critical thinking skills will include analyzing market failures and the role of government. AP Microeconomics may be taken in place of College Prep Economics or Honors Economics. Per the recommendation of the College Board, students taking an AP course should expect 1-2 hours of homework per night. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - Grade 12 only. This course is for qualified 12th-grade students. Students must have taken AP United States History. Students must earn at least an A- in AP United States History for the first semester and second semesters. Because there is a strong mathematics component to this course, all students must take a placement exam. This course may be taken in place of Economics. Summer reading is a requirement and part of the semester grade.  (UC “g” Elective - UC AP/Honors) 
  • Film & American History

    This is a history course that uses film as the primary medium of historical exploration. Various topics will be discussed as well as the use (and misuse) of film in the depiction of United States history. Reading various historical articles will be an essential part of the final grade.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is an elective for 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • Law and Society

    In this course, students will consider the relationship between law, society, and ethics. Using practical examples and cases as a  framework, students will consider both public policy issues and practical questions relevant to their everyday lives. During the course, students will examine the following areas of law and procedure: Criminal law, including juvenile justice; tort law, including strict liability; real estate law, including rental agreements and housing issues; contract law, including the use of credit; and family law, including foster care and custody issues.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is an elective for 10th, 11th and 12th-grade students. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • Civil Liberties & The Constitution

    In this course, students will examine how the Constitution and amendments have been interpreted over the years to protect civil liberties and civil rights. Using Supreme Court cases and historical context as a framework, students will assess first amendment issues including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press; fifth amendment issues including due process,  self-incrimination, and double jeopardy; and fourteenth amendment issues including equal protection. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is an elective for 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • Ethnic Studies

    Students in this one-semester course will examine the origins of systems of oppression and how the Black, Indigenous, and Latinx populations in the United States have responded to these challenges over the years. They will examine racial and ethnic identity development, specifically the process of racial formation and its associated struggles and consequences. This course operates from the consideration that race and racism have been, and continue to be, profoundly powerful social and cultural forces in  American society. The major themes of this course are social justice, social responsibility, and social change. Through historical documents and historical interpretations (both print and film), students will be able to (1) discuss their identities, including race,  ethnicity, culture, and nationality, (2) describe the ways these categories are socially constructed and how they affect students’  lives and the lives of others, and (3) explain the dynamics of institutional oppression and resistance. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is an elective for 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students. (UC “a” Social Studies, ND Elective) 
  • Latin American History

    This semester course provides an overview of events that shaped Latin American societies, starting with pre-Columbian civilizations and the European expansion. The course will focus on the effects of European colonialism on Latin America, as well as how the relationship with the United States has played a big role in their economy and politics, particularly throughout the 20th century.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is an elective for 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • Psychology

    Psychology is the study of human behavior. Classic and contemporary case studies, feature films, and class activities will engage students by their applicability to their personal and family lives. Topics covered include child development, adolescent psychology, principles of learning, personality theory, the brain, motivation, conflict and defense mechanisms, disorders, and the healthy personality. This class includes a project and an oral presentation each semester.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is an elective for 12th-grade students. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • AP Psychology

    This course has a dual purpose: a greater understanding of psychology and preparation for the AP Psychology exam. Students will learn the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. The course is designed to give students the opportunity to engage in intellectual, critical, and creative process thinking skills through in-class discussion, individual projects, and related written assignments.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is an elective for qualified 12th-grade students. Students in AP  United States History must earn a B– for the first semester and second semesters. Students in college prep United States History must earn an A for the first semester and second semesters. Summer reading is a requirement and part of the first-semester grade. (UC “g” Elective - UC AP/Honors) 

Faculty

List of 12 items.

  • Jeremy Nelson

    Department Chair
    AP European History
    AP Research
    Honors World History
    (818) 933-3636
  • Bridget Cantwell

    Economics
    Honors Economics
    AP Microeconomics
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3432
  • Dorothy Ceccon

    AP World History
    Honors World History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3448
  • Richard Good

    AP Human Geography
    Early Global Studies
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3414
  • Jean-Herbert Harris

    Civil Liberties and the Constitution
    Law and Society
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3444
  • Sharlene McKenzie

    Ethnic Studies
    United States History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3470
  • Alex Patarias '96

    United States History
    Honors World History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3445
  • Julie Reif

    AP Psychology
    World History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3439
  • Matt Sargeant

    Psychology
    (818) 933-3633
  • David Savage

    World History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3416
  • Tim Stark

    AP US Government & Politics
    United States Government
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3409
  • Rich Woolery

    AP United States History
    Film and American History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 3444
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