How do we become active citizens in the U.S. and the global community? How do we think critically, making connections between the past and the present? How do we analyze documents and online sources for content and credibility? How do we cultivate an understanding of social and economic justice issues?

The Social Studies Department seeks to develop all of those skills and more within the context of each course, topic and time period. The Department seeks to integrate an understanding of history with an understanding of the present. Courses investigate cultural, economic, intellectual, and religious topics in addition to presenting traditional political narratives. All history courses include some form of individual research project that requires the use of primary sources and the ability to handle conflicting interpretations. Students also learn to make effective presentations before the class. For graduation, three high school credits are required.

Those students interested in the liberal arts should consider selections from the range of electives in addition to the core offerings. Civics is taught in Grade 7, followed by a two year course in World Cultures. The Grade 8 course, World Cultures I, engages students in the study of ancient civilizations through the Medieval period. In Grade 9, World Cultures II, the course picks up with the Renaissance and continues through modern times. In Grade 10, students begin their two year study of U.S. History with US History I (Columbus to Civil War/Reconstruction) followed in Grade 11 by U.S. History II, which begins with the Gilded Age and continues to the present. Three senior full credit electives are also available – Civics, Economics Honors, and U.S. Foreign Policy Honors. Graduation requirements for the Upper School are met beginning with World Cultures II.


List of 14 items.

  • Civics (312)

    Grade 7

    What exactly makes the United States of America a Democracy and a Republic? How are “citizenship” and the responsibilities that go with it defined and fostered in a democratic society? What values do the American political and legal systems honor and cultivate? How can you make a difference? The concept of civics dates back to ancient philosophers and focuses on the role of the citizen in their government. The goal of this course is to define that role for students and to encourage responsible and active participation in their communities. As students study the freedoms and rights promised in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, they will develop an appreciation of the country they live in while analyzing critically its strengths and weaknesses in light of its high standards. They will learn about the country’s diverse peoples, its democratic system of government, its capitalist economic system and its legal system as enshrined in its founding documents. Students will develop a portrait of what an American is, what Americans value, and what makes a person a citizen with the responsibility to participate in the government at local, state and federal levels. Throughout the year, students will engage in a variety of hands on projects designed to supplement their text with practical application of the major concepts.
  • World Cultures I (College Preparatory – 321)

    Grade 8 

    How did ancient world civilizations begin? What influences in language, culture, writing, art and architecture will they pass on to later civilizations, even defining much of what the U.S. and the world are today? This course is an introduction to the study of history. It seeks to recall the growth and development of humanity from the beginning of time through Fifth Century Greece, the Roman Empire and early Medieval Europe. The course attempts to involve the students in the lives of the people of these various cultures and eras. Also, students will be introduced to the 16 cultures of the non-European peoples, especially those of eastern Asia. Hands on projects, including a mock archaeological dig, are included. Meets every other day.
  • World Cultures II (College Preparatory – 331, Honors – 330)

    Grade 9

    What caused the flowering of ideas, art, architecture and economies in the period we call the Renaissance? How does that period of intellectual and artistic creativity influence the modern world even today? After a brief review of the earlier Grade 9 World Cultures I course, the students will explore the story of the modern world beginning with the Renaissance. The American colonial experience is viewed as the logical extension of European intellectual and political developments. Students study the social, political, economic, and religious ideas and events that have shaped the contemporary world as well as examine the contrasting factors between the West and Middle East/Islamic world and the West and the Far East. Attention is given to the forces of nationalism, revolution, liberalism, conservatism, communism and totalitarianism, as well as the economic influence on our present world. (1Credit)
  • United States History I, 1492 – 1877 (College Prep 352, Honors 355)

    Grade 10

    How did the U.S. become the nation it is today politically, culturally, socially and economically based on its early history? To what degree is the U.S. an extension of European civilization? Why and how do the ideas of the American Revolution as embodied in both the Declaration of Independence and The U.S. Constitution with its Bill of Rights, start the nation on an enlightened path of democratic ideals? How does the young nation deal with contradictions in its system, such as slavery, and the consequences of that contradiction that will ultimately lead the nation to its bloodiest war ever – the Civil War? This course offers a chronological survey of the United States, beginning with Columbus, and ending in 1877 – the year that the Reconstruction of the South following the Civil War officially ended. It also emphasizes the development of economic, political, and social themes which can be traced through all of American history. Current events, a major research paper, and oral presentations are also integrated into the course. The Honors course is differentiated by the level of research, essay and term paper writing, and extensive out-of-class readings. (1 Credit)
  • United States History II, 1877 – the Present (College Prep 357, Honors 359)

    Grade 11

    Why does the US enter a period of corruption called the Gilded Age and how is the Progressive Era a response to it? How does American expansion to the west affect Native Americans, population growth, the development of resources and the nation’s wealth? How does the U.S. respond to rapid industrialization and urbanization, waves of immigration, simmering racial tensions, the challenges of two World Wars, and the many conflicts of the Cold War period? What are the factors that turn the U.S. into an economic, industrial, and military superpower? How are its many social, ethnic, and racial groups tolerated or not tolerated at various points in history? How will the attacks of 9/11 affect U.S. domestic and foreign policy? U.S. History II offers a chronological survey of the United States from the Gilded Age to the present. The course continues to emphasize the development of economic, political, and social themes which can be traced through all of American history. Students learn to view the United States not as a separate entity, but as part of a global community. Current events, a major research paper, and oral presentations are also integrated into the course. The Honors class is differentiated by the level of research, essay and term paper writing, and extensive out-of-class readings. (1 Credit)
  • U.S. History A.P. (380)

    Grade 11

    How does the American Revolution continue even today? How does the discussion between the early Federalists and Anti-Federalists continue to be played out in modern times? The Advanced Placement course examines the political, social, economic and cultural values that shape the history of the United States but at a much deeper and rigorous level than the Honors course. Beginning with required text reading in the summer before the course begins, the course continues with an extensive amount of reading from the text, supplemental texts and primary sources. Frequent essay and research papers based on the readings, and student interpretations of current events and their relationship to past history, are assigned. Testing includes critical thinking skills for objective questions, essays, and DBQ’s (document based questions) in preparation for the A.P. Exam. (Prerequisite: Department Head approval). (1 Credit)
  • Civics and Law (343)

    Grade 12

    Where do our ideals as Americans come from? What is your role as a citizen of your community? What rights do you have as a citizen? How does the system work and how you can make a difference? Civics and Law is designed to introduce students to the role of citizens in government by exploring America’s history and evolution, engaging in the election process, studying Americans that have impacted our society, and focusing on America's role as part of the global community. Students will balance an exploration of their textbook and relevant primary historical sources with active participation in projects ranging from elections to mock trials. Students will also be expected to monitor current events, participate meaningfully in class discussions, and create multiple presentations using the various technological options they have at their disposal. Over the course of the year, students will come to understand how they will be better served by their government as they develop awareness of how to participate meaningfully in the democracy in which they live. (1 Credit)
  • Russian History (354)

    Grades 11-12 Elective 

    Why study Russian History? This course offers an historical perspective on the development of Russia and its people. The course includes a brief introduction to Kievan Russia but concentrates on the Imperial Russia of the Romanovs and the later Soviet period. Included in the historical survey are the following topics: westernization v. tradition, conformity v. dissent, Orthodoxy v. Communism. Additionally, discussions address cultural developments of the Russian people including a study of authors, artists, and musicians. The course requires extensive readings and guided research projects. (1/2 Credit)
  • Boston History (358)

    Grades 9-12 Elective

    Why does Boston pride itself as the “Athens of America” and the “The Hub” of the universe? Join us as we explore Boston’s unique history from its founding in 1630 as the “City Upon a Hill,” to its evolution as one of America’s premiere educational, medical, political, cultural, and yes, sports cities. The course will focus on the experiences of Boston’s diverse peoples and immigrants, its tragic moments including the Great Fire, the Molasses Flood, and the Cocoanut Grove Fire; its diverse architecture from Three Deckers to the Hancock Tower; its major construction projects such as Back Bay and the Big Dig; and even its outdoor beauty - on land with its “Emerald Necklace” and at sea with the Harbor Island Park. Open to All Grades, 9-12. (1/2 Credit)
  • U.S. Foreign Policy Honors (360)

    Grade 12

    Is the United States the world’s policeman? Should the U.S. take this role? Why? This course offers an overview of the policies developed and implemented by the United States in various third world regions after World War II. The course explores these historical topics in a comparative manner that restricts single-factor interpretation. The course consists of lectures, discussions, extensive readings, and written assignments. (Prerequisite: United States History and Department Head approval). (1 Credit)
  • Economic Honors (370)

    Grade 12

    What impact does a late teenager have on the economy? How do each of one’s individual decisions impact the economy collectively? Economics Honors offers seniors a firm grasp of economic reasoning and systematic analysis. It examines the great theories of economic development and the emergence of American business and industrial capitalism. Twentieth century topics include the Depression and the growth of international thinking, foreign systems of economics organization and multi-national corporations. The course also examines the relationship between social organizations and economic development. Students are introduced to workings of the Stock Market, the process of writing budgets, and economic questions. A large amount of additional reading and writing will be required. (Prerequisite: Department Head approval). (1Credit)
  • Introduction to Psychology (371)

    Grade 12 Elective 

    Why do people do what they do? This course surveys and presents the basic concepts of psychology. Topics include human development (Nature v. Nurture), human behavior, the learning process, human emotions, personality theories, and group psychology. The course includes readings, discussions, and written reports. (Prerequisite: 2.7 Overall GPA or Department Head approval. Open to Grade 12 only) (1/2 Credit)
  • History through Film (381)

    Grades 9-12 Elective 

    Why and how does Hollywood get history wrong in the movies? Today we live in a media driven culture, and Hollywood is one of the biggest institutions in the World. Movies wield a large amount of power and influence over society, and many people fall into the trap of believing what they are told in movies that have an historical theme. The purpose of this course is to use movies as a way to study historical topics. The basic questions that the course will address are: What do the movies get right? What do the movies get wrong? Where does the movie get creative? To what extent is the movie affected by events and conditions contemporary to when it was made. At the conclusion of the course, students are expected to: Identify historical inaccuracies that exist in many popular movies, and identify the movies that are true to historical events. Students will view and analyze three to four movies per marking period that are based in an historical event, or time period. The movies will include, but are not limited to: Braveheart, Patton, Lawrence of Arabia, Michael Collins, We Were Soldiers, Blood Diamond. (1/2 Credit)
  • AP European History (382)

    Grades 10-12 Elective 

    This AP course is an introductory college course; it is not easy, but neither is it impossibly difficult. Compared with Honors courses, AP European History will be more demanding, but also more rewarding. AP courses require more work, but they allow greater opportunity to master the subject and to explore it in greater depth. The course is a logical culmination for those gifted and hardworking students seeking preparation for those colleges and universities cited as most competitive. The course follows a basically chronological approach emphasizing the relevance of history to today’s world, with an added emphasis on developing study habits. The course focuses on the changing views of man, God, science, and politics. It also emphasizes Europe's interaction with the world, the rise of poverty and prosperity, objective knowledge and subjective visions, states and other institutions of power, and the role of the individual and society from the Renaissance to the present. (Prerequisite: Department Head approval). (1Credit)

Social Studies Faculty

List of 4 members.

Sacred Heart School

High School: 781-585-7511
Elementary School: 781-585-2114 
Early Childhood Center: 781-585-2290
Sacred Heart School is a landmark educational institution on the South Shore. Providing students in preschool to grade 12 a top-tier, private, Catholic education for the last 70 years.