Home > Academics > Departments > History

History

The Pacifica history department maintains a commitment to the enduring principles that have provided the foundation for our Western culture. This approach is based on the belief that students must develop a solid grasp of the historical, spiritual, and philosophical underpinnings of our society as they seek to become responsible, literate, and fair-minded citizens. It is with this grasp of our common heritage that students can begin to understand the intersection of thought and the unique qualities of world cultures.

We believe that history not only enlightens students but is a useful tool in the development of written and oral expression, analytical thought, character, and leadership skills. Students will be given the tools necessary to become independent learners of history in the years to come. They will become familiar with primary sources, historiography, and research.

We believe in order for students to think about history they need to know history. With that in mind, classroom instruction will be tied to assigned readings. Students will be expected to come to class prepared to participate in discussion, interpretation, analysis, and debate surrounding the events, personalities, ideas, and themes of history. Pacifica teachers will engage students through lecture, the Socratic Method, and group projects. Teachers will be available to students individually and in groups during the student’s advisory period to work through questions of content and analysis.

The Pacifica history curriculum will be closely aligned and integrated with the English curriculum. It is the integration of these subjects that will give literature a contextual backdrop and history another source for the expression of the human spirit.


History Courses

Graduation Requirement: 4 Years

World Humanities I/Honors World Humanities I*

Grade 9 (Year Course)
*Prerequisite: A grade of B or better in 8th-grade History and an 8th-grade GPA of 3.5 or higher

World Humanities I introduces students to ancient narratives through extensive study of the Hebrew Scriptures and other primary sources that portray the social, religious, political, economic, intellectual and artistic cultural characteristics of the Ancient Mediterranean context. The ancient Hebrews are compared with other ancient cultures, from the Sumerians to the Greeks. Secondary sources such as films, works of art, essays, and epics are also studied for their interpretations of characters and events. The course ends with the collision of Jewish and Greek civilization during the Hellenistic period in Israel. Heavy emphasis is placed on Socratic seminars, public speaking and expository writing.

The course is designed to establish the religious, philosophical, and political contexts most crucial to the study of Western history and literature, allowing students to see themselves as part of a larger set of historical events which continue to exert relevant influence on the modern world. Students will explore ancient texts such as: Gilgamesh, Homer, Aristotle, Herodotus, Plato, Thucydides, and the Hebrew scriptures, or Old Testament.

World Humanities II/Honors World Humanities II*

Grade 10 (Year Course)
*Prerequisite: A grade of an A- or better both semesters of World Humanities I or B or better in both semesters of Honors World Humanities I

World Humanities II introduces students to the rich political, economic, religious, cultural, societal, and intellectual history of the ancient and medieval Mediterranean world extending from the time of the Roman Republic and Empire to the Renaissance (200 B.C.E.- 1500 C.E.). The course will give students greater understanding of the antecedent factors involved in the formation of the modern world, paying particular attention to shifting conceptions of authority and freedom. Significant time is also devoted to the study of New Testament texts and the development of Christian theology in the early church councils. By doing so, the course will introduce students to the basics of historical, biblical and theological inquiry, as well as train students in analytical writing, dialogue, argumentation and public speaking.

The course is designed to expand upon the trajectory of World Humanities I by delving more deeply into the religious, philosophical, and political contexts most crucial to the development of Western history and literature. At this level, students will begin to critique various cultures, analyzing materials for perspective and bias, along with learning how to assess the various ways in which this history affects their world today. Students will explore texts from Livy, Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Athanasius, The Decrees of Nicaea and Chalcedon, Augustine of Hippo, The Qur’an, Aquinas, William of Ockham, Machiavelli and the New Testament.

European History, Ethics & Politics/College Level European History, Ethics & Politics*

Grade 11 (Year Course)
*Prerequisite: A grade of an A- or better in both semesters of World Humanities II or B or better in both semesters of Honors World Humanities II

European History, Ethics & Politics introduces students to the rich political and diplomatic, economic, religious, cultural, societal, and intellectual history of modern Europe. The first semester of the course surveys modern European History from the Reformation to WWI, giving students greater understanding of the formation of the modern world and its changing relationship to economics, law, religion, and social and intellectual movements. The second semester of the course will engage students in a survey of the major ethical and political theories that shaped modern European society, the legacy of which continues to shape the contemporary world. Primary sources will be analyzed and debated in Socratic seminar with an eye toward contemporary civic engagement and moral formation.

The course is designed to give students advanced practice in historical and philosophical methodology, as well as to begin revealing to them the ways in which their own ideas (formed from the past and present) have “forward motion” in culture. Students will explore texts from Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Hobbes, Descartes, Newton, Pascal, Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, Kant, Mill, Smith, Marx, Nietzsche, Rawls, Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, C.S. Lewis and Alasdaire MacIntyre.

US History

Grade 12 (Year Course)

This course examines the narrative of American history with particular attention to the uniquely American understanding of rights and duties. It asks what it means to be an American. In answering that question, it seeks to provide a better understanding of the meaning of the “self-evident truths” on which this nation was founded. Students will explore political, diplomatic, social, intellectual, and cultural trends of our nation’s past as they seek literacy and understanding of current domestic and world affairs.

Students will explore texts from Bradford, Winthrop, Edwards, Franklin, Paine, Jefferson, Washington, The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, The U.S. Constitution, Hawthorne, Crevecoeur, Toqueville, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglas, Stowe, Lincoln, Dubois, Turner, Sinclair, T.R. Roosevelt, Wilson, Locke, Hughes, Steinbeck, F.D. Roosevelt, Kennen, Kennedy, Friedan, and King.

AP US History

Grade 12 (Year Course)
Prerequisite: A grade of an A in 10th-grade history, or a B or better in European History, Ethics & Politics and instructor approval

This course examines the narrative of American history with particular attention to the uniquely American understanding of rights and duties. It asks what it means to be an American. In answering that question, it seeks to provide a better understanding of the meaning of the “self-evident truths” on which this nation was founded. Students will explore political, diplomatic, social, intellectual, and cultural trends of our nation’s past as they seek literacy and understanding of current domestic and world affairs.

Students will explore texts from Bradford, Winthrop, Edwards, Franklin, Paine, Jefferson, Washington, The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, The U.S. Constitution, Hawthrone, Crevecoeur, Toqueville, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglas, Stowe, Lincoln, Dubois, Turner, Sinclair, T.R. Roosevelt, Wilson, Locke, Hughes, Steinbeck, F.D. Roosevelt, Kennen, Kennedy, Friedan, and King. Students will be prepared to take the AP exam in May. This course will require meetings outside of the normal class time arranged by the teacher.