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History and Social Sciences

"The value of history is, indeed, not scientific but moral: by liberalizing the mind, by deepening the sympathies, by fortifying the will, it enables us to control, not society, but ourselves - a much more important thing; it prepares us to live more." Carl Becker

    This course, a continuation of the world civilizations program begun in the eighth grade, familiarizes students with the development of civilizations since the mid-15th century. An interdisciplinary approach integrates art history, literature and world religions with the study of history. The course is thematic and chronological, starting with the age of exploration and finishing with a study of contemporary trends in globalization. Students analyze within the three contexts of continuity and change over time, comparison and contrast, and making connections. In addition, the development of writing and study skills is a major focus of this course.

    United States History offers a broad survey of the development of American society from the founding of the North American colonies to the present. The course provides students with knowledge and appreciation of the people and events responsible for the development of the United States. While heavy emphasis is placed on political and social history, considerable attention is also paid to the economics, geography, religion, sociology, literature, music, visual arts and popular culture of American history.

    Students read a comprehensive text and other materials, including primary and secondary sources. Selective use is made of films, maps and video programs. Students undertake a variety of assessments (projects, debates, discussions, mock trials, essays, etc.) to broaden their understanding of American history. A medium-length research essay is required for the completion of this course.


    Students in this course explore the history of the United States from the pre-Columbian period through the present day and come to appreciate the relevance of the history of the United States in their own lives. They also prepare to sit for the Advanced Placement Examination in United States History. Students examine the history of the United States by focusing on several major themes that run throughout the course: sectionalism, the context of class, the heterogeneity of Americans, the idea of American exceptionalism and the role of morality in American life. In addition to studying these ideas, the development of communication (oral and written) and critical-thinking skills is at the heart of the course. Completion of a significant reading schedule and regular writing assignments, and engagement in an active classroom setting are expected. The reading schedule includes a compelling textbook as well as additional secondary and primary sources representing political, economic, social and cultural history of the United States. In addition to routine essays requiring analysis and synthesis, the major writing assignment of the course is a research essay on a historical topic of the student’s choosing based on independent research, the interpretation of primary and secondary sources and the crafting of an original argument. Given that a score of 3 or above on the AP exam will, in many cases, result in college credit for the course, the course is conducted in a similar manner to that of a college course. Students are required to be both independent and collaborative learners, and to manage their time effectively.

    This course studies capitalism as an economic, social and cultural force. It focuses on the ways American identity has changed in cultural and political terms as a result of capitalism. It also engages with other parts of the world, using an international framework to examine the economic matters that have affected the United States and how American capitalism has affected other countries. This course begins by examining the basic question “What is Capitalism?” Building on Adam Smith and the early development of Atlantic trade, it then proceeds to an examination of Marx and the Industrial Revolution followed by globalization in the 20th century through the present. Additional topics include the role of slavery in capitalism, entrepreneurship and marginalized peoples. These ideas will form the context and basis for discussion of current issues with capitalism. Pulling from headlines and political debates on capitalism, current events will be featured weekly to extend the historical into the present.

    The main objective of this interdisciplinary course is to prepare students to become global leaders by completing a social entrepreneurship project that is research-based and worthy of publication. The course begins with an examination of social entrepreneurship theory and case studies in the field. It transitions into an exploration of political, economic and cultural contexts of global issues. This learning experience allows students to identify and explore their areas of interest that form the basis of projects in the second semester. Simultaneously, students seek answers to essential questions, such as: How does geography shape identity, health dynamics, and economic development? How have societies grappled with the effects of globalization? How can humans address environmental degradation through innovative solutions and policies?

    The year-end project in the course is designed to recognize and enhance individual talents. Students can raise awareness and seek innovative solutions to social problems through a variety of mediums; these might include business plans, plays, newsletters, art exhibitions, documentaries, fiction and other expressions of activism.

    This course is designed to help students understand the world of international law and human rights: what legal concepts and ideas are common among nations, and how do these concepts differ across societies? How do local culture and historical norms impact what rights countries choose to protect, and what crimes they choose to prosecute? What role is there for international legal institutions, like the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights? The course takes a comparative approach, exploring the founding documents, constitutions and bills of rights of a variety of countries. The course begins by exploring “western” conceptions of law and human rights, and then expands outward to countries with significantly different legal, cultural, religious and historical norms. Presentations, writing assignments and larger projects will take the place of in-class assessments, and the course is conducted as a seminar, with extensive discussion and debate. Students engage in critical analysis of the role of international law in a world that is seeing increased nationalism, and they grapple with the question of whether any rights are truly universal. There is no traditional textbook for this course. Readings consist of a variety of international legal documents, court cases and articles from both U.S. and international sources that highlight successes and challenges of the international legal system.

    Latin American Studies uses a multidisciplinary approach to expose students to the history, culture and major political and socioeconomic issues affecting Latin American nations throughout their histories and today. The course traces the impact of historical processes in the formation of diverse communities in Latin America and the Caribbean, and analyzes a variety of perspectives and experiences through the study of literature, film, music and other primary sources, taking into account identity-formation processes in connection with gender, race, class and ethnicity.

    The course surveys the chronological periods of pre-Columbian Americas; the conquest; three centuries of colonialism; independence; and modern Latin America. Students learn about the richness of Latin America’s environmental, religious, literary, artistic, cinematic, musical and culinary landscapes. Students actively read and analyze primary sources, films, newspaper articles, literary texts, photographs, art and academic essays, and explore some of the most important debates about Latin American history, political systems, society, economy and culture. Students should expect to engage actively in critical discussions about the most important debates over the social, political, cultural and economic history of the region.

    With so much uncertainty in the world, individuals and whole societies increasingly look to religion for answers. In this course, students examine the religions of the world: their origins, evolution and modern-day relevance. The curriculum explores the complexities of religions and the role that religion has played in civilization throughout history. In addition, students consider the psychological impact religion has on individuals. The course involves a survey of Eastern and Western religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, as well as various emerging religious movements.

    Students consider the following questions: What is religion? What is the difference between being religious and being spiritual? Why has religion created peace for many people, and conflict for many others? What is the future role of religion in the world? This course does not promote any particular religion or world view. It is an academic course that introduces students to the intellectual analysis of beliefs and tenets that millions of people have held for thousands of years.


    This course introduces students to the principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics, emphasizing theories, economic debates and consumer choice. The macroeconomics course of study focuses on larger theoretical concepts dealing with the performance, structure, behavior and decision-making of an economy as a whole. This includes regional, national, and global economies. The microeconomics course of study is more consumer focused, specifically the practical application of microeconomic principles to individual decision-making, such as opportunity cost, scarcity, business organization, financial management, product and factor markets, cost analysis, price determination and profits. As consumer economics features prominently in class discussion, students improve their financial literacy and understanding of entrepreneurship.

    Students participate in a stock market investment competition and “real-life” budgeting exercises. They also pay taxes on a simulated income and create a business plan for a school-wide competition. Students develop their reading and discussion skills through a seminar-style format that employs social-issues pedagogy. The material reflects important societal trends and debates, encouraging students to appreciate the relevance and utility of economics in real life. This method of teaching: (1) creates student interest in the study of economics and its application to current social problems, (2) provides basic economic analytical tools useful in the understanding of social problems and issues, and (3) helps students understand social issues from an economic perspective to enhance the rest of their lives as citizens, voters and participants in the economy. Readings for this require deep analysis and reflection. For every reading prior to class, students complete a written online discussion post.

    This is primarily a course in how to think about the large questions “what” and “why?” What, for example, is “the truth?” Why do we exist, if indeed we do, and what does that mean? What is beauty? What is virtue and how do we know? What is love, and why we do we love? Is there such a thing as free will, and if so, to what extent do individuals have an ability to make choices that shape their lives? These are big and important questions, questions that we often overlook or take for granted. It is not the intent of this course to resolve these questions for all time. Rather, we discuss ways to think about these questions, and encourage each other to begin to think about ideas that they might not have thought about before. We read and discuss major contributions of great thinkers in philosophy — classical and modern; Eastern, Western, and Southern; male and female — and formulate and discuss and challenge our own convictions about the issues posed by the course. We also consider the role of philosophy in popular culture — film, television, popular music — among other aspects of the world in which we live. We think about what we think about, or don’t think about but should, in our daily lives. A seminar, this course is primarily based on daily discussions around the Harkness table, with a reading schedule of both primary and secondary sources. Reflective writing and research allows students latitude to develop and challenge a variety of responses to the big questions raised by the curriculum.

    This class provides an in-depth look at a diverse array of 20th century African American social and political movements through an anthropological and historical approach. The course begins with an exploration of the Pan-African movement’s major proponents, its development and progression, and the historical context from which it emerged. Students then explore the many different social organizations and methods of civil rights activists during the 1950s and 1960s, comparing and contrasting leadership styles, gender politics, use of religious symbolism, and relationships to white America. The course then explores the Black Power and Black Arts Movements within the context of the global anti-imperial and fascist struggles. Students finish with a critical examination of the 20th-century intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality in order to understand the positions of and necessity for the National Black Feminist Organization, the Prison Abolition Movement, and the Environmental Justice movements. Students engage with a variety of different sources: journal articles, primary sources, literature and literary excerpts, music, art and documentaries. Coursework includes discussions, a variety of in-class assessments, creative projects, and argumentative writing assignments.

    The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, ushered in a time of profound change in the United States and around the world. This course explores the ways in which 9/11 impacted politics, laws and our very way of life. The course begins with the causes and historical roots of terrorism, political violence and the 9/11 attacks. The course then looks at the aftermath of the attacks through a variety of lenses: constitutional law, immigration, foreign policy, politics economics and religion. Students then examine the cultural implications of the attacks: how did these attacks affect the art, music, rhetoric and literature of the decade that followed, and how has this event become a distinct turning point in American culture and American memory? Finally, the course covers the rise of the Islamic State (and similar groups) in the modern era. Course work consists of a variety of in-class assessments, argumentative writing assignments, and debates and discussions (both online and in class). Students also complete an oral history project, which gives students significant room to identify a specific topic of interest. The course is conducted as a seminar, with frequent student presentations and a variety of guest speakers. Students meet with law enforcement and first responders, and visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City.

    The course does not use a traditional textbook, but includes a variety of articles, court cases and case studies, as well as analyses of rhetoric/speeches, literature, music and art.

    This class takes an in-depth look at the American criminal justice system from a variety of perspectives: legal, political, philosophical and technological. Topics include criminal liability (what behavior is criminalized and why), theories of punishment and sentencing, criminal legal processes, constitutional criminal law, and the role of technology in modern criminal law. Presentations, writing assignments, and larger projects take the place of in-class assessments, and the course is conducted as a seminar, with extensive discussion and debate. There are frequent guest speakers from all parts of the criminal justice system, and students visit the Miami-Dade criminal court to see the justice system in action.

    United States Government offers an introduction to the American political system, concentrating on the structures and processes of the federal system as well as domestic and foreign policy. In this course, students study the foundation, underlying concepts and current processes of the United States government system. The course starts with a focus on constitutional principles and the ways in which citizens interact with government through the political process. These two broad subjects are consistently connected within the context of today’s political climate in different class activities. During the second semester, there is a greater emphasis on policy-making institutions, civil rights and liberties, as well as economic, social and foreign policies. For the unit on the judiciary, the class will visit the Third District Court of Appeals and this experience is a major focal point of the unit. Students craft judicial opinions based on the actual cases that they observe. In addition to such projects, students are assessed in a variety of ways including through tests, through participation in debates and discussions, and writing assignments. Students are expected to keep up to date on current events, and be able to write critically about these events. The ultimate goals of this course are for students to develop a greater understanding of the foundations and application of our government, and to help them develop active citizenship.

    AP Comparative Government and Politics offers an introduction to the comparative study of state systems and their political components. The course gives students a critical working perspective of these government systems, and the choices that nations make in terms of political institutions, and citizens’ rights. The work involves the study of political science theory as well as the analysis of specific countries. The focus is not only on institutions, but also on race, ethnicity, religion, economics, and other complexities of modern societies. A cross section of modern governments is studied including those of advanced democracies such as the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union; post-communist countries such as Russia and China; the developing democracies of Nigeria and Mexico; and non-democratic/hybrid regimes such as North Korea and Iran. A primary goal of the course is to increase the students’ understanding of the institutions, political culture, political traditions, values and structures of comparative systems. In addition, students learn how to compare various systems to one another using characteristics common to all political models. Some historical perspective is included in order to connect each country’s political and economic development to the present time. A last major emphasis is the effect of globalization and political violence on each of these governments.

    This course covers the period of European history from the early Renaissance through the present day, with particular focus on the cultural, political, social and economic developments that played a fundamental role in the development of modern Europe and western heritage. Students acquire the analytical, written and organizational skills needed for the AP examination through a considerable reading load, as well as regular written assessments and tests. This is an intensive reading and writing course and since many colleges and universities award college credit for scores of a 3 and above on the Advanced Placement examination, the expectations and responsibilities are quite similar to those in a college- or university-level course.

    This course follows the AP syllabus for macroeconomics and microeconomics and prepares students for both AP exams. More importantly, the course encourages students to explore connections between economic theory and real-world events. The first semester focuses on the principles of macroeconomics and measurements that apply to the economy as a whole. These include the study of national income accounting and the measurement of economic performance indicators such as inflation, gross domestic product (GDP) and unemployment. Special attention is given to monetary and fiscal policies, as well as international capital flows. The second semester focuses on microeconomics: the functions of individual decision-makers - both consumers and producers - within the larger economic system. Special attention is given to consumer behavior, the four product market structures, the resource market, and the role of government in microeconomic decision-making. As a major requirement of the microeconomics unit, students collaborate in teams to develop original business plans.

    AP Psychology is the equivalent of a college-level introductory psychology course that presents students with a general overview of the discipline as well as the most important theories included in research and mental-health practice today. Major areas covered include the history and approaches of psychology; research methods; the biological bases of behavior; sensation and perception; states of consciousness; learning; cognition; motivation and emotion; human and personality development; testing and individual differences; abnormal psychology; psychotherapy; and social psychology. This course prepares students for the AP exam in psychology and provides each with an opportunity to pursue a topic of personal interest through a second-semester research project.

    The AP United States Government and Politics course is designed to survey the U.S. political system. Though the course begins with an examination of the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. constitutional system, the focus is on analyzing current trends, institutions and practices, and the evolution of U.S. government to its current state. Primary focus is placed on the national level, with a brief examination of the states and how they function within the federal system, as well as how their governments differ from the national government. The course looks at general comparisons of the U.S. system with the political systems of other countries, in order to highlight unique aspects of the U.S. system. Reading assignments include both primary and secondary sources, and writing assignments require students to analyze and respond to ideas, policies, legal opinions, political speeches and a variety of other materials. This course looks at government structure and function in depth, and students are expected to keep up with a rigorous reading schedule that includes Supreme Court opinions, political analysis and textbook assignments. Students are also expected to keep up to date on current events, and be able to apply their knowledge of those events to the concepts in the course.

    This course is about big ideas and concepts, not names and dates. The course surveys major themes and ideas in world history, including world religions, trade and commerce, conquest and contact, the development of technology, gender, the impact of geography, and environment and art in societies. Although the AP exam assesses students only on the period after 1250 CE, this college-level world history survey exposes students to a larger range of historical narratives stretching back to the earliest humans. The course briefly surveys the pre-1250 “foundations of civilizations” (religion and culture, the origins of political power, and economic interactions, etc.) in all regions of the world. Next, by analyzing a variety of primary and secondary sources, students explore the emergence of major societies and their interactions, the development of significant world systems like the Silk Roads, Indian Ocean trade networks, the Atlantic World, European imperialism and the bipolar world and non-aligned movement. Comparative inquiry is emphasized. The reading schedule does not include a traditional textbook, but rather an extensive selection of journal articles and a diverse collection of primary sources representing a range of perspectives from and about all of the civilizations that are studied. These provocative readings appeal to a wide a range of interests. Close reading of sources and engagement in vibrant and sometimes contentious class discussions are important expectations.

    Assessments include significant and challenging writing assignments, both in and outside of class, that require the analysis of primary sources in their contexts; these assignments require deep analytical and synthetic thinking. Students develop time management skills and the ability to read, think and write with efficiency.


    This course serves as an introduction to the basic elements of communication and competitive interscholastic speech and debate. Students learn to master the Communication Model, rhetorical devices, and the fundamentals of the Toulmin Model of Argumentation. Students have the opportunity to study World Schools, Public Forum and Congressional styles of debate. Additionally, students are introduced to the various interpretation and public-speaking styles of competitive speech which include: Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Impromptu, Dramatic Interpretation of Literature, Humorous Interpretation of Literature, Duo Interpretation of Literature, and Program of Interpretation. Students also begin the process of honing Executive Function Skills. Specific attention is paid to universal debate theory, argument construction, flowsheeting, presentation techniques, audience adaptation and research methodologies. Students are required to participate in a minimum of two interscholastic tournaments each semester and assist with the hosting of tournaments held at Ransom Everglades. Participation at the Florida Forensic League Novice State Championship Tournament is a requirement of the class (Alternate presentation options may be considered to complete this requirement).

    This course is intended for students on the competitive speech and debate team participating in the junior varsity and/or varsity divisions. Students learn advanced rhetoric, presentation and argument techniques while they prepare for tournaments. This course helps students improve their public speaking, critical thinking, research, writing and teamwork skills. Students will continue developing Executive Function Skills focusing on goal setting/plan design assessment and reflection, interscholastic networking and collaboration, prioritization and time management. Students are required to participate in a minimum of three tournaments each semester and assist with the hosting of tournaments held at Ransom Everglades. In addition, students are required to assist with the debate team’s community-service program. Course enrollment is not a requirement for Ransom Everglades Speech and Debate team membership. However, Executive Board Membership (all officers and squad captains) does require membership in the Advanced Speech and Debate class.

    This course provides a chronological exploration of visual imagery and aesthetic concepts. The format of the class is a mixture of formal lecture and seminar discussion. Architecture, sculpture, two-dimensional design, photography, graphics and utilitarian products represent global cultures. This art is examined in terms of visual style and in an interdisciplinary context. The principal goal of the course is to reveal the creative process of making art and its subsequent interpretation as an engaging visual language. This course can count for either a History and Social Sciences or Visual Arts credit.

    This course offers a visual survey of international architecture, sculpture, painting and printmaking from prehistory to postmodernism. Students concentrate on understanding the significance of 250 representative images selected by the College Board. Students trace the chronological development of art through interdisciplinary contexts of geography, sociology, history, magic and superstition, religion, utilitarian needs and visual aesthetics. This course can count for either a History and Social Sciences or a Visual Arts credit.


  • Photo of Jennifer Nero
    Jennifer Nero
    Humanities Department Chair, History & Social Sciences Teacher
    Providence College - B.A.
    Marquette University - M.A.
  • Photo of Abigail Berler
    Abigail Berler
    History & Social Sciences Teacher
    Bates College - B.S.
    Rutgers University - M.A.
  • Photo of Kate Bloomfield
    Kate Bloomfield
    History & Social Sciences Teacher
    University of Michigan - B.A.
    New York University - M.A.
  • Photo of Roger Caron
    Roger Caron
    Coordinator of Student-Athlete College Recruitment, History & Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    Harvard University - A.B.
    North Adams State College - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Jenny Carson
    Jenny Carson
    Assistant Dean for Student Activities, History & Social Sciences Teacher
    Trinity College - B.A.
    Rutgers University - M.S.W.
    Princeton Theological Seminary - M.Div.
    Class of 2003
  • Photo of Gregory Cooper
    Gregory Cooper
    Upper School Dean of Studies, Dean of the Senior Class, History & Social Sciences Teacher
    Brown University - B.A.
    University of Pennsylvania - J.D.
  • Photo of Pete DiPace
    Pete DiPace
    Assistant Head of the Middle School for Student Life, History & Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    Florida State University - B.S.
    St. Thomas University - J.D.
  • Photo of Cameron Ferguson
    Cameron Ferguson
    History & Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    North Carolina State University - B.A.
    North Carolina State University - M.A.
  • Photo of Alicia Fisher
    Alicia Fisher
    History & Social Sciences Teacher
    Florida International University - B.S.
    Florida State University - M.S.
  • Photo of Rene Gonzalez
    Rene Gonzalez
    History & Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    Florida State University - B.A.
  • Photo of Kathleen Hamm
    Kathleen Hamm
    History & Social Sciences Teacher, Speech and Debate Coach
    St. Cloud State University - B.A.
    Loras College - M.A.
  • Photo of Alissa Hirschl
    Alissa Hirschl
    History & Social Sciences Teacher
    University of Wisconsin - B.S.
    Northwestern University - M.S. Ed
  • Photo of Clinton Hough
    Clinton Hough
    History & Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    The Military College of South Carolina - B.A.
    University of South Florida - M.A.
  • Photo of Raheem Jackson
    Raheem Jackson
    History & Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    Amherst College - B.A.
    University of Pennsylvania - M.S.
  • Photo of Doreen Johnson
    Doreen Johnson
    Middle School Dean of Studies, History & Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    DePaul University - B.A.
    Harvard University - M.Ed.
  • Photo of Brandon King
    Brandon King
    History & Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    Swarthmore College - B.A.
    School of Oriental and African Studies University of London - M.A.
    University of Massachusetts - M.A.
    Chinese University of Hong Kong - Ph.D.
  • Photo of John King
    John King
    Associate Head of School, History & Social Sciences Teacher
    Emory University - B.A.
    Emory University - M.A.
    Vanderbilt University - Ph.D.
  • Photo of Joseph Mauro
    Joseph Mauro
    Middle School History & Social Sciences Department Coordinator
    College of The Holy Cross - B.A.
  • Photo of Gregory Noblet
    Gregory Noblet
    History and Social Sciences Teacher, Coach
    Colby College - B.A.
    St. Bonaventure University - M.S.Ed.
  • Photo of Jonathan Scholl
    Jonathan Scholl
    Upper School History & Social Sciences Department Coordinator
    Marquette University - B.A.
    University of Florida - M.A.
    University of Florida - Ph. D.
  • Photo of Samuel Upton
    Samuel Upton
    History & Social Sciences Teacher, English Teacher
    Dartmouth College - B.A.
    University of Michigan - M.A.
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Middle School2045 South Bayshore DriveTel: 305-250-6850
Upper School3575 Main HighwayTel: 305-460-8800
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.