The history curriculum traces and explores the events that have produced our world. It helps students understand more clearly the attitudes, interests, and societies of others. Students learn about our culture through the broad-based study of its evolution. They also learn about other peoples and nations whose values differ from the student's own heritage, promoting a greater appreciation and respect. By learning how people, from the earliest times, have dealt with politics, economics, societal relations, and culture, history gives our students knowledge of events and circumstances they cannot experience themselves. Such knowledge is significant if our graduates are to make informed decisions and judgments about situations affecting their own lives and the lives of others. A firm foundation of history and sense of direction are valuable in establishing Santa Catalina graduates as leaders in their communities, the nation, and the world.

World History to 1500: The Origins and Development of World Culture

This freshman course has two specific goals. The first is to establish the study skills necessary for a serious study of history. These skills include reading carefully in context, outlining, taking notes from the assigned readings, taking notes from lectures, assimilating reference materials from traditional sources and the Internet (with special emphasis on proper use of Internet materials), organizing time and materials to meet deadlines, writing essays and creative papers, and understanding and using proper historical documentation. The second goal is to provide an orderly, chronological framework for studying and comprehending the civilizations that have influenced our world.

This World History course begins with a study of the Neolithic Revolution and the earliest great river civilizations of Mesopotamia, India, China, and Egypt. Following a study of Classical Greece and Rome, students seek to understand the foundations of world history from 500 to 1500 C.E., which gives them the basis for a deeper study of modern history, beginning with the humanism of the Renaissance and the conflicting forces of the Reformation. Equal emphasis is placed upon political, economic, social, religious, and cultural development.

World History Since 1500: The Making of the Modern World

This sophomore course offers a broad sweep of world history since 1500 and traces the major ideas and events that have shaped the modern world. The course goes through significant developments in Western Civilization, the Islamic World, and in African and Asian civilizations. It is designed to provide students with appropriate tools for historical study, including advanced understanding of the role of geography in shaping history, use of Internet sources, research skills for historical study and writing, and analysis of primary sources. Beginning with the fragmentation of Christendom during the Reformation, students analyze political, social, religious, economic, and cultural themes as they progress toward the modern world. Essential to this understanding is the grasp of linkages between past and present, conducive to the realization of how our time is the product of history, as well as how we continue to make history today.

U.S. History

Because knowledge and understanding of United States history is vital for all Americans, this required junior-level course imparts not only factual material but also an appreciation of our heritage and an understanding of the American character. The course presents a balanced portrait of the American past through political, social, intellectual, economic, military, diplomatic, and cultural history. From pre-Columbian times to the present day, concentration is on the development of continuing themes such as the shaping of the national character, the origins and ongoing process of perfecting American democracy under the Constitution, nationalism versus sectionalism, expansionism, and social and economic evolution and reform. The course seeks not only to establish historical appreciation of the American past but also to lay the foundation of constructive and active citizenship. The course also sharpens and refines students' historical sophistication and methodological skills. Students analyze, synthesize, and articulate factual and interpretational material in the oral and written media.

AP U.S. History

This course offers qualified juniors a challenging college-level program while in high school and prepares them to take the AP examination in United States History. The course presents a balanced portrait of American history from pre-Columbian times to the present day and covers diverse aspects of U.S. history, including political, economic, social, cultural, military, diplomatic, and intellectual facets. The curriculum is organized not only chronologically but also thematically around issues such as the ongoing process of perfecting American democracy, the balances of a federal form of government, social and economic evolution and reform, and expansionism. In addition to establishing this wide base of historical knowledge, comprehension of the American character, and constructive citizenship, there is also a heavy emphasis on the use of primary sources and historiography, learning about the divergencies of historical thought, and how to deal with these divergencies. Students learn to develop a historical thesis, articulate a well-supported analysis in the historical essay format, and gain a fundamental understanding of the economic system and its philosophies and principles.

Art History

This course provides a survey of selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture from the Paleolithic era to the present, within and beyond the European tradition. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of perceptual and critical skill, the analysis and interpretation of style and meaning, and the ability to relate works to visual traditions and historical contexts. Accordingly, art history involves substantial review of broader trends in history and the humanities and brings to bear students' prior learning in other fields.

Senior Research Seminars

The Senior Research Seminar is designed to be the culmination of Santa Catalina students’ development of history skills, including critical reading skills, persuasive writing techniques and formal essay development, critical thinking skills, and research methodologies. The Senior Research Seminar is not a survey course designed to provide a specific body of content. Rather, the course is designed as a college-style seminar that requires and relies on independent research and learning. Each student will pursue a topic of individual interest to her while exploring the research process in collaboration with her fellow students and under the guidance of her teacher. The intent is for each student to leave Santa Catalina School fully versed in modern academic processes and procedures. Seminar topics include:

  • Women in America
  • Immigration in America
  • The Constitution and Government of the United States
  • History of African-Americans
  • Introduction to International Relations
  • Dictatorships: The Acquisition, Maintenance, and Loss of Power