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 22 items.

  • Human Geography

    This course will explore world physical and cultural geography. Emphasis is placed on developing academic skills in preparation for future social studies courses. Development of critical thinking and writing skills will be emphasized.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This is a required course for all 9th grade students 
    not enrolled in Honors World History.
     (UC “g” Elective) 
  • 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) 
  • 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 Human Geography class and maintain a GPA of 3.50 for both semesters. Second semester Human Geography students may register if their first semester GPA is a 3.50 or higher, with the understanding that they must earn a B+ in Human Geography. 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 enroll in Honors English also qualify but must take Honors English I concurrently. Summer reading is required. (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • AP World History

    This course has a dual purpose: comparing and contrasting the development of world civilizations from 8000 B.C.E. to the present and preparing for the AP World History exam. Divided into six separate historical periods, AP World History trains students to apply historical thinking skills to different times and places. Emphasis will be placed on reading and analyzing primary and secondary source 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 both semester in their most recent College Prep social studies course. Rising sophomore must have an A - in Human Geography. 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. 
     (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • 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 both semesters in their most recent College Prep Social Studies course. Rising sophomore must have an A- in Human Geography. Students taking an 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 students in grades 10, 11, and 12. (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • 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 human understanding of the Earth’s surface. In addition, 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. Rising sophomores must have an A- in Human Geography. Also, students must have a B- both semester in Honors/AP English or A- both semesters in College Prep English. This course is open to students in grades 10, 11, and 12. (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • 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 US 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 - 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 second semesters. Summer reading is a requirement and part of the first-semester grade. (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • 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 will be an integral part of the class.

    Prerequisites/Comments - 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: 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. 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 - 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. Summer reading is a requirement and part of the first-semester grade. (UC “a” Social Studies) 
  • 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 - This is a required course for all 12th grade students not taking Honors Political Economics or AP Macroeconomics. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • 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 - 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 and second semesters. Summer reading is a requirement and part of the first-semester grade. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • 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. 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 - 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. This course may be taken in place of Economics. Summer reading is a requirement and part of the first-semester grade. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • Film & American History

    This is a history course which 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

    This course introduces the nature and scope of the American legal system (both criminal and civil), with a focus on criminal justice. The student will develop an understanding of how the legal system affects every citizen, the role of law in American society, and the application of the Bill of Rights to personal liberties in the context of Constitutional Law. Students in this class will participate in the Constitutional Rights Foundation Mock Trial Competition in Los Angeles and possibly at state finals. This class is offered in the first semester only.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This class is open to all students and is repeatable. Instructor approval is required. (UC “g” Elective) 
  • Civil Liberties & The Constitution

    The class will focus on an understanding of our Constitution the ideas that inspired the framers. Students will the Twenty-Seven amendments and use them as a time line to study the valiant and historic struggles of those who have fought for equal justice under law. Great cases placed before the Supreme Court and the outcomes of which continue to influence our lives are emphasized. Special attention will be focused on the Post WW2 Jim Crow era and the mid-sixties rise of the Civil Rights movement. Other topics include civil unrest, protests, movements, literature and music which often arose from the civil rights struggle and often provided the spark to various movements. Moot Court competitions available with this course. 

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

    The course will survey political, economic, cultural, intellectual, aesthetic and religious contributions of African Americans and the struggles this race of people had to endure as they fought for racial equality from the time of slavery through present day America. Students will learn about the major events in African American history, as well as people who have made significant contributions to the development and advancement of the African American race and its culture. Connections across time and place using an African American perspective will be used to answer overarching questions.

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

    This class will explore and attempt to understand our nation’s involvement in Vietnam, its beginning with a historical look at the country and its people, the reason for the divide, and the eventual conflict. We will study the beginnings of US involvement, the “military advisors” who served in the early to mid-sixties, the Tonkin Gulf Incident, the draft, protest in America and the incidents and battles which led to public sentiment against our involvement. We will study the fall of Saigon and the secret US involvement in Cambodia. Finally, we will attempt to see how Vietnam and our involvement either strengthened or weakened our military and the public perception of the military.

    Prerequisites/Comments - This course is an elective for 10th, 11th and 12th grade students. (UC “g” 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 the European colonialism on Latin America, as well how its 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 phenomenon 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 - 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) 
  • Humanities

    Humanities emphasizes a team approach to preparation for Academic Decathlon competition in the areas of fine arts, literature, music, history, economics, math, speech, as well as, essay writing and interviewing skills. Class activities center on research techniques, college-level writing skills, impromptu and prepared speech writing, debate and oral presentations. 

    Prerequisites/Comments - This class is open to 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students and is repeatable. Instructor approval is required. (UC “g” Elective) 

Faculty

List of 12 items.

  • Jeremy Nelson

    Social Studies Department Chair
    AP European History
    Humanities
    Honors World History
    (818) 933-3636
    jnelson@ndhs.org
  • Bridget Cantwell

    Economics & Honors Economics
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 432
    cantwell@ndhs.org
  • Dorothy Ceccon

    AP World History & Honors World History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 448
    ceccon@ndhs.org
  • Richard Good

    Human Geography & AP Human Geography
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 414
    good@ndhs.org
  • Bill Lawrence

    History of the Vietnam War
    Film in United States History
    Civil Rights and the Constitution
    Law & Society
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 407
    lawrence@ndhs.org
  • Sharlene McKenzie

    African American History & United States History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 470
    mckenzie@ndhs.org
  • Alexandra Patarias '96

    United States History & Honors World History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 445
    patarias@ndhs.org
  • Julie Reif

    AP Psychology
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 439
    reif@ndhs.org
  • Matt Sargeant

    Psychology
    (818) 933-3633
    sargeant@ndhs.org
  • David Savage

    World History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 416
    savage@ndhs.org
  • Tim Stark

    AP United States Government & Politics
    United States Government
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 409
    stark@ndhs.org
  • Rich Woolery

    AP United States History
    (818) 933-3600 Ext. 444
    woolery@ndhs.org
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