History and Social Sciences
R.G. Collingwood, a British philosopher, suggested that history is an inquiry that helps humans understand who we are by instructing us about what we have done. At St. Mark’s, the History and Social Sciences Department exposes students not only to important historical facts, but also to the imaginative process of understanding and evaluating the significance of those facts in the light of the present day. This process is a catalyst for intellectual growth, for it broadens and enriches one’s perception of human activity as it sharpens one’s powers of analysis and communication. It also prepares our students to be more effective global citizens.
Students become acquainted with the past in varying ways: through historiography, primary sources, passages from literature, data analysis, and works of art. Exploration of the content is paired with age-appropriate skill development in every class. Key skills include proficiencies in analytical reading and writing, creative problem-solving, building and defending arguments, collaboration, research, and public presentation.
The process of historical research begins early and continues throughout the curriculum. In the Global Seminar course, students progress from smaller research projects closely directed by their teachers to the more complex and independent research papers that students produce by the end of the year. In the United States History survey courses, students present a significant, researched historical essay on a subject of their choice. This project is prepared over a period of weeks during which the student and teacher work together in the library on the paper’s research and preparation. The Global Seminar and the United States History survey courses are the Departmental graduation requirements. All other courses are elective, with continuing study of History recommended for students as they progress between the two required courses.
Suggested Pathway for Historical Studies at St. Mark’s School
Form III The Global Seminar
(This is a required course in the Third Form year.)
Form IV Mediterranean Civilization to 1450 (Fall)
East Asian Civilization to 1600 (Fall)
Eurocentrism or World History? (Fall)
The Atlantic World, 1300-1800 (Spring)
Form V United States History
Advanced United States History
(One of the above two courses is required for graduation)
Form VI Advanced United States Government
Cultural Anthropology (Spring)
Microeconomics (Fall) and Macroeconomics (Spring)
Journey into the Land of Ice and Fire (Spring)
History of the Modern Middle East (Fall)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Spring)
The American Conservative Movement (Fall)
Sacred Spaces: Sites of Spirituality (Fall)
History Research Fellowship (Fall)
(This is a required course in the Third Form year.)
Mediterranean Civilization to 1450
Middle Eastern Civilization to 1450 CE
East Asian Civilization to 1600
The Atlantic World, 1300–1800
United States History
Advanced United States History
Advanced Art History
African-American Leadership in the Twentieth Century
Micro- and Macroeconomics
History of the Modern Middle East
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Sites of Spirituality
The Global Seminar
The Global Seminar sets the foundational stage for students’ understanding of global citizenship. Through an examination of ongoing aspects of globalization, students will gain an understanding of the larger forces at play in the 21st Century’s interconnected and interdependent world. Topics covered will include: the history of globalization, trade and economics, infectious disease, peacekeeping, human rights, technology, the environment and sustainability, and gender politics. Significant world events will be addressed as they occur, and students will be encouraged to hone their understanding of interconnected systems as they strive to understand current events within local and global contexts. Perspective taking, a sense of common humanity, a sense of individual and collective responsibility, and a commitment to social justice and equity—all core values of global citizenship—will be explicitly addressed throughout the course.
Over the course of the year, students will learn and use essential skills that will help them be successful at St. Mark’s and beyond. Students will acquire good habits of organization and daily preparation and develop proficiency in communication of their ideas in spoken, written, and electronic forms. Students will learn the skills of researching and writing an analytic paper and the class will encourage students to take an active and collaborative role in their learning through individual and group projects.(Required for all III Formers)
Mediterranean Civilization to 1450
This course is an introduction to the history and civilization of Europe and the Mediterranean area during the Classical Era and Middle Ages. The course focuses on the creation of the classical Greco-Roman world and its dissolution into three successor civilizations: Byzantium, the Islamic Empires, and Latin Christendom. The course will also look at how this process led to the formation of a new civilization in the West during the Medieval period. In addition to the content mentioned above, students will be provided with an introduction to and practice in reading, interpreting, and critically analyzing both primary and secondary sources; conducting research and writing a persuasive essay; and employing historical evidence in effective oral presentations and discussions. (Open to IV Formers and others with departmental permission)
East Asian Civilization to 1600 Fall
This course will provide an introduction to the intertwined histories of China, Japan, and Korea. Core topics of the social, cultural, environmental, political, and economic history of East Asia will combine with students’ individual interests to co-create the curriculum. Critical analysis and evaluation of primary and secondary sources will be central to the class’s skill development, and students will practice both traditional and innovative forms of presenting their findings and defending their arguments. Through exploration of a variety of artifacts from letters to poetry to art - online, at a museum, and in our own library - students will develop a strong understanding of the people and institutions of this rich and varied region. (Open to IV Formers and others with departmental permission)
Eurocentrism or World History? Fall
The last 500 years of world history have undeniably been dramatically shaped by the actions of the people of a single continent, Europe, once seen as a global backwater. And yet most of the widely-available written accounts of these actions (generally provided by the Europeans and their descendants) have been wholly celebratory and uncritical. Through a study of major periods in modern European history, and an analysis of the myriad ways in which those movements (including the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, new Imperialism, and the Russian Revolution) have affected every corner of the globe, students will explore the vital role Europe played in forming the world we all inhabit. They will also take on the essential question of Eurocentrism: where is the line between acknowledging Europe’s key agency in the modern world arena and overstating European dominance? In addition to the content mentioned above, students will be provided with an introduction to and practice in reading, interpreting, and critically analyzing both primary and secondary sources; conducting research and writing a persuasive essay; and employing historical evidence in effective oral presentations and discussions. (Open to IV Formers and others with departmental permission)
The Atlantic World, 1300–1800
This course will look at the histories of the four continents that border the Atlantic Ocean. We will focus on the centuries that bracket the moment of contact that established ongoing networks of exchange and communication across the Atlantic—exchanges that would dramatically alter each continent’s (and the world’s) culture, society, demographics, economy, environment, and politics. The course will begin with an in-depth exploration and comparison of Sub-Saharan African kingdoms, empires, and stateless societies; Incan, Aztec, and North American civilizations; and post-plague Western European nations. We will then look at the Portuguese and Spanish exploration ventures and perceptions of “the Other” evident in documents and art from each region. Finally, we will analyze the myriad consequences of extended contact between the continents of the Atlantic: forced and willing migration, the slave-based “Atlantic system”, ecological exchange, and political revolutions, among others. Students will practice reading, interpreting, and critically analyzing both primary and secondary sources; conducting research and writing a persuasive essay; and employing historical evidence in effective oral presentations and discussions. (Open to IV Formers and others with departmental permission)United States History YearThis course, which fulfills the school’s graduation requirement in history, takes a research-based approach to the traditional survey course of American History from the colonial period to the 1970s. Students will engage with research projects of ever-greater challenge as the class progresses. Assessments will emphasize the skills of library research and citation, written and oral historical argumentation, analysis of primary sources, and evaluation of historiography, culminating in a final independent research paper of substantial length. (Open to Forms V and VI, and Form IV with Departmental permission)Advanced
United States History
This course is designed for the student with a particular interest in history, offering a more intense and faster-paced investigation of U.S. History—from the colonial period through the 1980s. Students will work with complex primary source material, practice their presentation, debate, and writing skills, and will complete the year with an independent research paper. (Open to Forms V and VI with Departmental permission, which will be based upon the student’s performance in previous history courses, overall academic performance at St. Mark’s, and interest in historical studies)
Advanced United States Government and Politics
This course examines the U.S. political system. It provides an analytical perspective on U.S. government (the structure and function of institutions in this political system) and politics (how Americans select their representatives and how the representatives operate). The course will explore the historical roots and constitutional underpinnings of U.S. government, how individuals behave and participate in government, how political parties, interest groups and the media interact with government, how the institutions of national government (Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and the Courts) operate, how government formulates and implements public policy, and the historical development of civil rights and civil liberties. As we look at these subjects, we will also develop students’ skills and abilities, including their: (1) writing and speaking skills; (2) note-taking skills; (3) abilities to read, comprehend, analyze, and critique both primary and secondary materials; (4) collaborative capabilities; and (5) abilities to present and defend cogent arguments. Students will do this through a variety of assignments, including debates and research projects. Finally, the course will spend significant time studying current events as they touch upon the U.S. political system (and students will be required to regularly read The New York Times). (Prerequisite: U.S. History and Departmental permission, which will be based upon the student’s performance in prior history courses and overall academic performance at St. Mark’s)
Advanced Art History
This course offers a rigorous chronological survey of the world’s major art and architectural achievements from antiquity to the present, placing them within their historical, religious, and social contexts. Students learn to think and write as art historians by developing observational skills and by researching patronage, contractual agreements, religious ritual, engineering, and cultural history. They synthesize these elements into persuasive written and oral arguments. The course follows the European tradition as well as explores global cultures and new media. Art History involves extensive reading and writing, a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and a trip to other museums during the year to see original work (Open to V and VI Formers, and IV Formers by Departmental permission—prior coursework in history is helpful, but not required).
*Sacred Places: Sites of Spirituality
In this course the students would explore a variety of sacred sites of the world and learn what makes places sacred. These sacred sites would include both natural areas, such as Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and Uluru in Australia, as well as man-made sites such Borobudur in Java and the Vatican in Rome. The overarching framework for looking at the sites is set by the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai who argues that places are created rather than born, and that it is how we as humans interact with a place that creates meaning for a place. Appadurai identifies three aspects in this process that are essential: agency—i.e. what people do at a place and who’s allowed to be there; sociality—i.e. what kinds of interactions take place at the place; and reproducibility—i.e. what one has to do to pass the locality on to a new generation. In addition the students will learn about the religions associated with each sacred site studied. This course also fulfills one semester of the Religion Department requirement. (Open to IV, V and VI Formers)
*Cross-listed with Religion
Often referred to as the bottom-up view of the economy, microeconomics focuses on the decisions made by individual households and firms. The objective of this course is to introduce the models and theories of the discipline, thus equipping students with the analytical tools needed to comprehend economic trends. The course will begin with an overview of basic economic concepts such as scarcity, opportunity cost and the supply and demand model. From there, the course will shift to a focus on microeconomic topics, including consumer choice theory, firm costs and various market structures. Frequent attention will be paid to applying the concepts discussed in class to current events. Finally, the course also will include a historical survey of important developments in economic thought as well as a stock market simulation. (Open to Forms V and VI)
From the frequent debates on Capitol Hill concerning tax policy to the recent financial meltdown on Wall Street, the study of macroeconomics has much to contribute to our understanding of modern day America. The objective of this class is to introduce the models and theories of the discipline, thus equipping students with the analytical tools needed to comprehend economic policy. To this end, the course will begin with an overview of basic economic concepts such as scarcity, opportunity cost and the supply and demand model. From there, the course will shift to a focus on macroeconomics topics, including inflation, unemployment, fiscal policy and monetary policy. Frequent attention will be paid to applying the concepts discussed in class to current events. Finally, the course also will include a historical survey of important developments in economic thought as well as a stock market simulation. (Open to Forms V and VI)
History of the Modern Middle East
This course will provide an examination of the history of the modern Middle East from Ottomans’ entrance into European affairs through the present day. Essential to this study will be an analysis of the region’s interactions with the globe, especially Europe, and an in-depth analysis of the modern Arab-Israeli conflict. Included within the course will be an examination of the region’s political, cultural and religious foundations. This course also uses the Arab-Israeli conflict to address broader issues of international conflict and conflict resolution. (Open to V and VI Formers and others with departmental permission)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
This semester course will focus on the history of Nazi Germany from 1919–1945. Class themes will explore: origins and appeal of National Socialism, collapse of the Weimar Republic, Nazi voting patterns, anti-Semitism in Germany, dissent in the Third Reich, racial ideology, Hitler’s War, and the implementation of the Final Solution. Students will analyze critical historical readings, primary documents and artworks, films, and class discussions to enhance their knowledge of the Third Reich. (Open to V and VI Formers and others with departmental permission)
The American Conservative Movement
On November 4, 1964, the day after the presidential election, New York Times columnist James Reston wrote, “Barry Goldwater not only lost the Presidential election yesterday but the conservative cause as well. He has wrecked his party for a long time to come [...]” Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory over the Republican nominee, Goldwater, confirmed for many that America would embrace the Democratic Party and its ideology for the foreseeable future. Yet, four years later, the Republican Party--ostensibly America’s conservative party--controlled the White House and made significant progress toward eroding Democratic control of Congress. This marked the initial ascent of the conservative movement in American politics, a development that resulted in the Republican Party winning eight of the last thirteen presidential elections.The objective of this course is to trace the rise and growing influence of the conservative movement in modern American history. Special emphasis will be placed on three distinct periods in the history of the movement: its origins in the post World War II period, the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s and, finally, its development during the Obama administration through the present day. Along the way, students will trace how the various factions that comprise the movement coalesced to form an enduring political force. (Open to VI Formers and others with departmental permission).
African-American Leadership in the
Twentieth Century This course will examine the lives, philosophies, and leadership styles of a group of significant African-American leaders during the Twentieth Century. That group will likely include: Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Marcus Garvey, A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, John Lewis, and Jesse Jackson. Not only will this course look at the historical narratives and contexts relevant to these leaders, it will also examine the nature and challenges of leadership through the lenses of their lives. In addition to the content mentioned above, students will learn the skills needed to discover, interpret, and explain history, including the ability to read and analyze primary and secondary sources, develop analytical writing skills, participate actively and effectively in class discussions, engage in research, and think like historians. Course requirements will include a major research paper. (Open to V and VI Formers and others with departmental permission)
Cultural anthropologists investigate the range of human experiences in a non-ethnocentric manner, seeking to understand human universals on the one hand, and the uniqueness of human cultures on the other. In this introductory college level course students will focus on topics that are relevant to the study of cultural anthropology, such as religion and spirituality, race and ethnicity, adaptation to different environments, social change, gender roles, cross-cultural psychology, child rearing practices, and residence and marriage patterns.
In addition students will learn about the process of conducting anthropological field-work through participation in an ongoing local research project. Case studies, ethnographic texts, documentaries featuring cultures from around the world, and a textbook are used. (Open to Forms V and VI)
St. Mark’s History Research Fellowship: An Advanced Topics Course in History Fall
Students wishing to pursue independent research and college-level engagement with the work of historians are invited to apply for the History Department Fellowship program. Fellows will begin the semester engaging in guided discussions about the historian’s craft and will practice their research skills on smaller-scale local history research projects. Throughout the semester they will have the opportunity to engage with the wealth of archives, universities, libraries, and museums in the greater Boston area, exposing them to authentic history in action. Possible examples of what Fellows could expect in this class include experiencing lectures from university history professors, perusing the artifacts of the Salem Witch Trials at the Peabody Essex Museum, and conducting oral history interviews with local participants in the Civil Rights Movement. By the end of the semester, each student will design and carry out an independent research project on a topic of their choice, which will result in a substantial academic paper and an oral presentation. (Open to VI formers who have completed a United States History course and a program application. Research fellows will be selected through an application process that will take place in the spring of 2017. Interested students should contact the History and Social Sciences Department Chair.)
This semester course explores many aspects of human behavior from the interrelated perspectives of empirical findings and theoretical constructs, placing special emphasis on child and adolescent development, personality theory, abnormal psychology, psychotherapy, and social psychology. The course is conducted as a seminar; thus, active participation by students is essential. (Open to Forms IV, V and VI)
This semester course focuses on the research methods and techniques employed in psychology. Students learn about observational, correlational, and experimental methods, and conduct original research projects that put their knowledge into practice. In addition to research methodology, our readings explore important studies in the history of psychology, focusing on topics that do not overlap with those studied in Psychology I. Thus the student who elects both courses will experience a broad survey of modern psychology, while the student who elects only Psychology II will not be disadvantaged by classmates' prior experience in the field. (Open to Forms IV, V and VI)
Developed in alignment with our Global Citizenship Initiative, Lions Roam immersive travel takes place each spring in Lion Term, and is embedded in the curricular cultural contexting work of a semester or yearlong course. Students selected for this course will also be expected to participate in occasional evening and weekend events throughout the year to help with their preparation for an immersive travel experience. Questions and applications should be directed to the Director of Global Citizenship, Dr. Appell-Warren.
*Journey into the Land of Ice and Fire Spring
The 2017-2018 Lions Roam course seeks to unpack the cultural legacy of the Icelandic people. Students will study Icelandic culture by investigating language, religion, customs, art, economy, government and social structure as seen through the lens of the natural environment. How does the natural environment influence an Icelandic person’s experience? Does the varied landscape influence Icelandic art? As we investigate each cultural mode, students will explore the role the natural world plays in crafting Iceland’s sense of national identity. In order to better understand Iceland’s present, students must first understand Iceland’s rich history. As a culminating assignment, students will craft a project proposal for their time abroad, based on an area of focus from the course. This proposal includes both an on-campus research portion as well as a product to be completed on-assignment in Iceland.
Lions Roam immersion travel to Iceland during Lion Term will be the capstone event in a personal journey each student will undergo, in which they will craft a deep but abstract understanding of Icelandic culture and then experience it first hand.. We will circle the island by following Iceland’s “ring road,” the only main road that connects (mostly) all of inhabitable Iceland. Possibilities for our travel include: engagement with professors and students at Reykjavik University’s Iceland School of Energy regarding the school’s sustainability work, exposure to rural Icelandic farm life as well as bustling Reykjavik, visits to sites such as Alpingi at Pingveller, the birthplace of Icelandic democracy, a swim in a geothermal bath, and hikes on glaciers and dormant volcanoes. Immersion will allow them to not only bear witness to, but also directly participate in Iceland's captivating landscape and culture. (Open to IV, V, and VI Formers.Students will be selected through an application process, with materials due March 1st. Interested students should contact the Director of Global Citizenship, Dr. Appell-Warren).
* Cross-listed with English