Pennsylvania’s leading Catholic Day School for Boys, Grades 9-12

Social Studies

We invite our students to explore the past through our courses to help them understand our world today.  We know that adolescents have a strong desire to make meaning of their lives and feel engaged with their communities.  Through the content found in the Social Studies curriculum and the relationships they develop in our classrooms, our students can find both meaning and engagement as they explore and reflect on our shared historical past and its implications for the present and future on a local, national, and global scale. 

 

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William FaulknerComprehensive critical analyses of history form the foundation of our students’ study.  Our students learn to develop their close reading skills through the examination of a variety of primary and secondary sources and hone their ability to effectively articulate evidence-based reasoning in a variety of expressive modes.  Our students benefit from learning in a collaborative environment that is defined by compassion and respect.  Through their studies and with guidance and mentorship from our faculty and the open exchange of ideas with their peers, our students ultimately discover their own voices to explain the past, comprehend the present, and prepare for the future. 

The course of study within the Social Studies department begins with building a strong foundation in understanding the rise, development, organization, significant contributions of, and controversies associated with world history’s greatest civilizations.  Next, our students are guided into a deeper examination of the United States and its contributions to the construction and maintenance of the world today.  Our electives – human geography, European history, East Asian studies, economics, national and international politics, and psychology – offer additional perspectives and extend our students’ solid foundations in social studies and social sciences.

Armed with fortified analytical and communication skills and inspired by critical inquiry based on compassion and respect, our students are bound to have the perspectives to make sound judgements, to avoid repeating mistakes from the past, and to connect fully and effectively with other people due to their understanding of their cultures, beliefs, traditions, behaviors, institutions, societies, or worldviews. 

Social Studies Faculty

Mr. Vernard Abrams

Mr. Vernard Abrams

Mr. Gregory Bielecki

Mr. Gregory Bielecki

Mr. Thomas Devlin

Mr. Thomas Devlin

Mr. William Donohoe

Mr. William Donohoe

Mr. Jason Eisele

Mr. Jason Eisele

Mr. Bernard Fitzgerald

Mr. Bernard Fitzgerald

Mr. Justin Harbour

Mr. Justin Harbour

Mr. Martin Jackson

Mr. Martin Jackson

Mr. Gerald Miller

Mr. Gerald Miller

Mr. Joseph Parisi

Mr. Joseph Parisi

Mr. Owen Schugsta

Mr. Owen Schugsta

Mr. James Tate

Mr. James Tate

Mr. John Young

Mr. John Young

Social Studies Courses Offered

World History I (Freshman Required)

This is the required course for freshmen. The course surveys the history and cultures of the world from the dawn of civilization to 1800, with attention to major cultural, social, religious, economic, and political trends within each civilization. The course follows the rise of great civilizations across the globe, and analyzes how they flourished, as well as the problems they encountered. The emergence of European civilization is set within a larger framework of civilizations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and interactions between or among civilizations are emphasized. Special topics include exploring cultural diversity, technological achievements, competition for supremacy, and the influence of religion among different civilizations in the ancient world. By the end of freshmen year each student should have a strong sense of how civilizations developed and flourished as people from different civilizations interacted through migration, conquest and trade. The student will also gain an understanding of human, cultural, social, economic, intellectual, religious and political development of world civilizations.

Advanced Placement Human Geography (Freshman)

This course is an elective course for selected freshmen as an introduction to the study of Human Geography. The course prepares the students to take the Advanced Placement Human Geography exam in the spring. AP Human Geography introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human use, understanding, and alteration of Earth’s surface. Students employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human social organization and its environmental consequences. They also learn about the methods and tools geographers use in their science and practice. The course goals include the use and analysis of maps and spatial data, recognizing and interpreting the relationships among patterns and processes in multiple scales, defining regions and evaluating the regionalization process, and characterizing and analyzing changing interconnections among places. The course seeks to accomplish these goals while blending the academic rigor and challenge of an introductory college course at a pace and academic maturity level for advanced high school freshmen. Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May.

1 Credit/full year

World History II (Sophomore Required)

This is the required course for sophomores. The course introduces the student to the political, economic, and social phases of World History from the 19th century, to the contemporary world. The course focuses on the events, ideas and people who shaped the future of this modern world. It begins with the modernization and nationalism in the 19th century, followed by imperialism, crisis, war, and revolution of the 20th century. The student will look closer at the rise of Fascism, the Russian Revolution, World War II and its impact on, the Cold War, the rise of communism, the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as the rise of the European Union, and the initiation of terrorism in the modern world. The course will conclude by looking at the challenges of building nation-states in Africa and the Middle East in the 21st century.

Advanced Placement World History (Sophomore Elective)

This course is an elective course for selected sophomores as a second part of a two-year curriculum on world civilizations. The course prepares the students to take the Advanced Placement World History examination in the spring. The course uses factual knowledge, geographic study, and interpretive analysis from both primary and secondary sources in order to gain a greater understanding of the change and continuity of global history. The course covers topics from ancient civilizations to the current world. It employs both a chronological as well as thematic perspective as it looks at World History. The course develops topics that will include a review of issues, ideas and events that were studied in the first year of World Civilizations before moving onto the major material of the Advanced Placement course. The topics include the Emergence of Western Europe and the Atlantic economy, the rise of Russia and the Soviet Union, the revolutions and reactions in Latin America, the African Diaspora and the Atlantic slave trade, the development of the Muslim world in Africa and the Middle East, the social and economic transitions in China and Japan, the history and development of the Indian sub-continent, and East Asia and the Pacific Rim in the contemporary world. The course ends with a critical look at globalization. Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May. Prerequisite: Departmental approval, a 3.75 G.P.A., and teacher’s recommendation and a selection test.

1 Credit/full year

United States History (Junior Required)

This is the required course for juniors. The course develops selected topics and issues in United States history from the reconstruction period to post-Civil War western expansion. The course then looks more in depth at the late 19th century, including the Gilded Age, the rise of American cities, and the rise of American imperialism. The student then moves into the 20th century by looking at the growth of American technology, the Roaring Twenties, the stock market crash, the depression, and the New Deal. United States History then moves into the modern era by exploring the United States’ entry into World War II, the atomic age, and the Cold War. It introduces the Civil Rights Era and United States involvement in the Vietnam War and ends by looking at the Reagan years. By using primary and secondary sources, and through discussion and writing, the junior student will develop his own interpretations and conclusions about United State history. The student then during their course of study comes to appreciate the major topics, issues, and personalities that have helped transform the post-Civil War United States into a major power in the 21st century.

1 Credit/full year

Advanced Placement United States History (Junior Elective)

This course is an elective for selected juniors. The course prepares the students for the Advanced Placement examination in United States History. The Advanced Placement United States History course is designed to provide students with the analytic skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials presented in United States History. Among the topics to be discussed are colonization, revolution, the Constitution, the Civil War, reconstruction, the Gilded Age, progressivism, World Wars I and II, the Cold War, and Civil Rights. The program prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands upon them equivalent to those made by full-year introductory college courses. Students learn to assess historical materials—their relevance to a given interpretive problem, reliability, and importance—and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. An Advanced Placement United States History course should thus developsthe skills necessary to arrive at conclusions on the basis of an informed judgment and to present reasons and evidence clearly and persuasively in essay format. Admission to the class requires departmental approval based on teacher recommendation, a multiple choice test, and writing sample. Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May. Prerequisite: Departmental approval, a 3.5 G.P.A., and teacher’s recommendation and selection test.

1 Credit/full year

Economics (Junior / Senior Elective)

This is an elective open to juniors and seniors. This is a one-semester course that will give students a basic understanding of the principles of microeconomic theory. It emphasizes the fundamental terms, concepts, and processes of economic study that apply to individual decision makers, both consumers and producers. Students learn to research, analyze, and apply solutions to a variety of economic problems. Some major topics include: cost and benefit analysis, supply and demand, perfect and imperfect markets, and private and government policy.

.5 Credit/semester

Advanced Placement Microeconomics (Junior / Senior Elective)

AP Microeconomics gives students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual decision makers, both consumers and producers, within the economic system. It places primary emphasis on the nature and functions of product markets, and includes the study of factor markets and of the role of government in promoting greater efficiency and equity in the economy. The following ideas and topics will be discussed and explored in depth: basic economic concepts, the nature and functions of product markets, factor markets, and market failure and the role of government. Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May. Prerequisite: A G.P.A. of 3.5, departmental approval through teacher’s recommendation.

Advanced Placement Macroeconomics (Junior / Senior Elective)

AP Macroeconomics gives students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to an economic system as a whole. Such a course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price-level determination, and also develops students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international economics. There is no single approach that an Advanced Placement macroeconomics course is expected to follow. The following ideas and topics will be discussed and explored in depth: basic economic concepts, measurement of economic performance, national income and price determination, the financial sector, inflation, unemployment, and stabilization policies, economic growth and productivity, open economy, international trade and finance. Admission to the class requires departmental approval based on teacher recommendation. Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May.

Prerequisite: A G.P.A. of 3.5, departmental approval through teacher’s recommendation.

Advanced Placement European History (Junior / Senior Elective)

The course is an elective for selected sophomore, junior, and seniors. The study of European history since 1450 introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which they live. Without this knowledge, we would lack the context for understanding the development of contemporary institutions, the role of continuity and change in present-day society and politics, and the evolution of current forms of artistic expression and intellectual discourse. In addition to providing a basic narrative of events and movements, the goals of Advanced Placement European History are to develop an understanding of some of the principal themes in modern European history, an ability to analyze historical evidence and historical interpretation, and an ability to express historical understanding in writing. Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May.

Prerequisite: Departmental approval, a 3.75 G.P.A., and teacher’s recommendation

Psychology (Senior Elective)

This course is a one-semester course that is only open to seniors, and will provide students with a general orientation looking toward the methods, content areas, and central findings of psychology. All students will get an understanding of psychology as a science, as well as an art, demonstrating psychology’s application in people’s daily living. The course looks closely at three major areas of the thinking in psychology: analytic, creative, and practical, all of which include both cognitive and affective abilities.

.5 Credit/semester

Advanced Placement Psychology (Senior Elective)

This course is an elective course for selected juniors and seniors. The Advanced Placement Psychology course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. They also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice. The following is a sampling of topics which will be covered: history and approaches, research methods, biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, learning, cognition, motivation and emotion, developmental psychology, personality, testing and individual differences, abnormal behavior, treatment of abnormal behavior, and social psychology. The student learns about and discusses ethical issues as well as the laboratory methods psychologists use in their science and practice. Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May. Prerequisite: Departmental approval through teacher’s recommendation.

1 Credit/full year

Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics (Junior / Senior Elective)

This course is an elective for selected juniors and seniors. This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement test in United States Government and Politics. A well-designed Advanced Placement course in United States Government and Politics will give the students an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. It includes both the study of general concepts of the United States Government institutions as well as politics. It also requires familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute U.S. government and shape politics. The following is a list of topics that will be covered: Constitution underpinnings of United States government, political beliefs and behaviors, political parties, interest groups and mass media, the institutions of national government, public policy, civil rights and civil liberties. In-class discussions of the above topics critically enhance the course content. Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May.

Prerequisite: A G.P.A. of 3.5, departmental approval through teacher’s recommendation.

Modern United States History: 1960 to the Present (Junior / Senior Elective)

This course is a one-semester course that will provide students with a basic knowledge of the major themes, people, and events in the history of the United States from 1960 to the present. This course will sacrifice scope for depth. Students will study a period of time only fifty years long – just a flash in the historical perspective. But those fifty years have seen some of the most chaotic, contentious, heartwarming, triumphant, important, and fascinating events in the nation’s past. Beginning with a review of the Cold War, the course then begins with the election of 1960, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, the Space Race, Watergate, feminism, gay rights, environmentalism, the birth of the modern “hyper consumer” lifestyle, the New Left and the counterculture, the rise of the New Right and the national political shift from New Deal liberalism to conservatism. Students examine closely the Reagan Era, the Clinton years, 9/11 and the War on Terrorism, and end with the election of 2008. By the end of the semester, the students are confidently conversant about the major events, movements, and people of the era. Students also gain an understanding of historical trends, the ways in which ideas and beliefs have shifted over time. Finally, the students should have a passing familiarity with some of the various historical “schools of thought” in modern U.S. history, and the issues that historians of the era still debate. Prerequisite: Department approval through teacher’s recommendation.

.5 Credit/semester

Advanced Placement Comparative Government and Politics (Junior / Senior Elective)

Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to fundamental concepts used by political scientists to study the processes and outcomes of politics in a variety of country settings. The course aims to illustrate the rich diversity of political life, to show available institutional alternatives, to explain differences in processes and policy outcomes, and to communicate to students the importance of global political and economic changes. Comparison assists both in identifying problems and in analyzing policymaking. The course will cover specific countries and their governments. Six countries form the core of the AP Comparative Government and Politics course. China, Great Britain, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia are all regularly covered in college-level introductory comparative politics courses. The inclusion of Iran adds a political system from a very important region of the world and one that is subject to distinctive political and cultural dynamics. By using these six core countries, the course can move the discussion of concepts from abstract definition to concrete example, noting that not all concepts will be equally useful in all country settings. Finally, comparison assists explanation. For example: Why are some countries stable democracies and not others? Why do many democracies have prime ministers instead of presidents? Note: As with all Advanced Placement courses at La Salle, students are expected to take the A.P. exam in May. Prerequisite: Department approval through teacher’s recommendation.

1 Credit/full year