Department Chair

Mr. Chris Schaefer

Phone: 202.336.7123 *7470

Welcome to the Social Studies Department


 WORLD HISTORY (410)/full year

                World History consists of both a survey of history and everyday living patterns in non-western societies and a study of the development of Occidental Civilization through the European Middle Ages. The general purposes of this course are to give students a familiarity with cultures other than their own, to broaden their horizons, to help them to understand other peoples, to learn how to deal with them more effectively, and to assist them in discovering key trends and relationships in history as a whole. Required for all freshmen.

EUROPEAN HISTORY (420)/full year

This course is a broad historical examination of European history beginning with the Dark Ages and ending with the War against Radical Islam. It will explore the political, cultural, religious, and scientific history of Europe with a focus given to central themes, important ideas, and major individuals. Special emphasis is also given to reading and analyzing secondary sources resulting in a 3-5 page Thesis Oriented Research Paper. Required of all sophomores.


                This course covers major trends and events in the formation and development of the United States, beginning with the era of exploration and extending to the post‑war era. It emphasizes the process of understanding and expressing the significance of historical events. In achieving those ends, students will learn to use historical documents and inquiry in the writing of well‑crafted historical essays. During the fourth quarter, the writing program will culminate in a cooperative effort with the Library and English Department to develop the students' understanding and mastery of a longer thesis paper. Required of all juniors.


                The AP US History course is designed to teach students to think critically about the issues that have confronted and influenced the United States, through a process that integrates the examination of factual knowledge, the development and application of analytic skills, and the assessment of primary and secondary sources. This class prepares students for intermediate and advanced college courses by making demands upon them equivalent to those made by full-year introductory college courses.

 RUSSIAN STUDIES (432)/full year

                Russian Studies is an introduction to the history, language, literature and culture of Russia from its inception as a nation to the present. As an elective, Russian Studies is open to any qualified junior. Emphasis will be placed on contemporary problems facing Russia today.

AP EUROPEAN HISTORY (440)/full year

                This course is a broad college level examination of European history beginning in 1450 with the Renaissance and ending in the present. It explores the political, cultural, social, economic, religious, diplomatic, and intellectual history of Europe with a focus given to central themes, important ideas, and major individuals. Special emphasis is also given to reading and analyzing primary source documents from the long and rich history of Europe. All students taking this course are required to take the Advanced Placement exam.


                This course provides a detailed review of the American federal system and its structure. Among others, main topics of the course include: Institutions of the national government, political beliefs and behaviors, political parties and interest groups, the media, civil rights and civil liberties. Senior requirement.

POLITICAL SCIENCE (446)/ one semester

                The course is intended as an introductory examination into some of the major themes in the history of political ideas and values. It focuses on the central problems of political philosophy and some of the most interesting attempts throughout history to solve them, from the ancient Greeks through more modern philosophers. It sheds light on the ideas of the framers of the Constitution by investigating their sources: Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and selected others. Taken in conjunction with U.S Government and Politics.


              This full year course is modeled after the Constitutional Law seminar required of most first year law students. Through a rigorous program of study, students will familiarize themselves with the U.S. Constitution, its amendments, and how it has been interpreted over time. Students will also examine the history of the Supreme Court as an institution and consider how it has interacted with the other two branches and with the states. The two primary methods of constitutional interpretation, currently exemplified by the jurisprudence of Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer, will be explored, compared, and debated. Finally, approximately twenty landmark Supreme Court cases will be researched in detail. Students will analyze opinions, write briefs, and argue moot courts. This course is open to seniors, subject to instructor approval, and meets the Social Studies requirement for 12th grade.

AP PSYCHOLOGY (449)/full year

                AP course in Psychology covers the major topics included in a first-year college-level course. The course will include writing and research assignments. Students must be approved by the instructor and be ready for a full year of rigorous study. All students taking this course are required to take the Advanced Placement exam.

AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHY (451)/full year

                AP Human Geography is an introduction to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of earth’s surface. Students employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human social organization and its environmental consequences. Geographic perspectives emphasized in the course include location, space, place, scale, pattern, regionalization, and globalization. Geographic topics explored in the course include population, cultural patterns and processes, political organization, agriculture and rural land use, industrialization and economic development, and urban land use. Students also learn about the methods and tools (especially maps) that geographers use in their science and practice. Examples and resources from the Washington, DC region are integrated throughout the course. All students taking this course are required to take the Advanced Placement exam.

AP ECONOMICS (453)/full year

                This course is designed to give students a thorough understanding of the principles of both micro and macroeconomics. Microeconomics gives students an understanding of the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual decision makers, both consumers and producers, within the larger economic system. Macroeconomics looks at principles that apply to an economic system as a whole. It places particular emphasis on the study of national income, measures of economic performance, economic growth, international finance, exchange rates, and the balance of payments. All students taking this course are required to take the Advanced Placement exams in both Macro and Microeconomics.


                This course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the operation of American national government. To accomplish this, students develop analytic perspectives for interpreting, understanding and explaining political events in this country. The subjects that the course covers include constitutional arrangements, policymaking institutions such as the legislature, the executive, the bureaucracy, and the courts, public opinion and the media, political participation and voting behavior, political parties, interest groups, civil liberties and rights, and budget making. All students taking this course are required to take the Advanced Placement exam.

WAR AND POLITICS INTO THE 21st CENTURY(460)/one semester

                This course offers an examination of the transition of the United States from a regional to a world power. Among the topics covered are the relationship between foreign policies and military strategies, the use of war as a political instrument, civilian-military relations, policies of war avoidance, and domestic politics.  Radical Islam will be closely examined in light of the 9/11 attacks.

AP ART HISTORY (471)/full year

     Advanced Placement Art History is a college-level course intended to teach students how to view art critically and understand artworks within their historical and social context. It is also intended to encourage and broaden students’ enjoyment of drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, photography and other visual media, particularly through visits to Washington’s museums. Students will learn to recognize, discuss and write about representative works from the Prehistoric era; Ancient art from North Africa, Europe and Asia; Classical art of the Mediterranean, Latin America and India; early Christian, Byzantine and Medieval art; Islamic art; Romanesque and Gothic art; the Renaissance and Baroque in Europe; African art; 19th and 20th century movements from Europe, North America and Japan; Native American art; and current trends in the visual arts today. Open to upperclassmen by approval. Students completing this are required to take the Advanced Placement exam in Art History.