We seek to build students’ knowledge of the past and other cultures in order to better understand our own society, political systems, and even ourselves. We expose students not merely to historical facts but more importantly to larger ideas about the ways nations and cultures have organized themselves. We hope that students gain knowledge of the past and form their own opinions of why events occurred and of their significance.

history department mission statement

Sample Courses

World Cultures

This required course for ninth graders focuses on the history of the world’s major cultural traditions. It investigates the relationship and interplay between the religious, economic, social, political, and aesthetic systems in which the world’s religions were founded and are currently being practiced. Readings will include a collection of sacred, biographical, and fictional texts set in historical and contemporary contexts.

European Civilization

Intended for tenth graders only, and designed to run parallel to the tenth grade courses in English, Art History, and Music History, this course will survey major intellectual, social and political themes in the development of European civilization from the ancient Greeks to the present day. First and foremost, this course will present a history of ideas. Students read selections from a wide variety of authors and explore how ideas relate to politics, literature, art, and music. Most readings come from Perry’s Sources of the Western Tradition, but students also will encounter literature from the past and historical writing by contemporary scholars.

U.S. History

This course, taught at Gilman, Bryn Mawr and Roland Park Country, surveys the history of the United States from colonial times to the post-World War II era. While readings and specific assignments will vary from teacher to teacher, all require analytical papers, essay tests and extensive readings, including primary sources.

African-American History

This course will focus on and then attempt to synthesize three different types of investigation. One will be experiential – off campus and in Baltimore City. A second will survey the ideas of prominent black leaders of the 20th century. The third will engage students in controversial topics facing our society today. Students should expect to involve themselves fully in all activities – interaction with people outside our school community, reading, discussion and writing.

China and Modern East Asia

After the cataclysms of revolution and war in the 20th century, the East Asian region in general, and China in particular, has reemerged as one of crucial importance in the modern world. The purpose of this course is to examine the evolution of East Asian history and culture, so we can develop an understanding of how the region evolved to the one we see today. The course will focus primarily on China and Japan since the nineteenth century, with occasional forays into the Koreas and Southeast Asia. As this course may be taken for history or English credit, there will be extensive discussion of fiction, including the novels To Live by Yu Hua and Kokoro by Natsume Soseki, and several short stories by East Asian authors.

Sample Coordinate Courses

Baltimore Studies

Offered at The Bryn Mawr School. In 2013, crime statistics ranked Baltimore as the seventh most dangerous large city in the United States on various national charts. It had the third highest homicide rate in the nation. Baltimore has been called the “heroin capital of the United States” on an ABC television documentary and by previous guest speakers in this class. Inadequate public education has plagued the city for decades. The illegal drug trade has created a cycle of poverty drowning some of Baltimore’s best neighborhoods. Focusing upon the Baltimore Riots of 1968, desegregation, poverty, crime, and the influence of illegal drugs, students will examine the impact of these issues and how they have changed the city of Baltimore in the past fifty years. Through readings, discussion, projects, research, and guest speakers, students will explore the recent history of Baltimore and its potential for change.

International Relations Since 1945

Offered at Roland Park Country School, this course examines the modern historical era from the Cold War to the New World Order, focusing on regional issues such as: Europe from the Cold War to the European Economic Community; Vietnam; the Middle East from the formation of new nations to the current crises; Africa from decolonization to present concerns including the end of Apartheid, AIDS, civil war and genocides; Latin America’s struggle for political and economic stability. The course also examines global issues such as terrorism, landmines, population and food crises and refugee crises. Subject matter will be presented using a variety of materials including journals, current periodicals, film and online sources.