Preparing Boys for Life


History at The Haverford School high school

The Archeology Project engages freshmen in investigations of unidentified objects from the Penn Museum. Pairs of students examine their assigned object, develop theories of its use and origin, and receive feedback from one of the museum's art historians.

Haverford students are required to complete three years of survey courses in history: Ancient World History, Modern World History, and United States History. These courses provide students with the background knowledge they will need to take full advantage of our rich array of history electives, deeper dives into a variety of times and places. Below you will find descriptions of the advanced (denoted by an *) and standard course offerings.

Core Courses

Ancient World History

This Third Form course is, at its core, an introduction to topics in an­cient and medieval civilizations. The course has, however, other significant di­mensions. It will systematically address skills the faculty deem necessary for success in Haverford's curriculum: effective reading of texts; note-taking from both reading and class; writing the analytical es­say; research techniques using library tools and methods; interpreting maps and other visual presentations; and making oral presentations, both formal and informal. In addition, students will learn how to use the computer for both word processing and research. The format of the course will include seminars, occa­sional lectures, films/video, and other presentations.

Modern World History

This year-long Fourth Form course surveys the history of the world from the 13th century to the present. The course centers on the development and interaction of western and non-western civilizations over this period, examining significant ideas, events, and persons from the multiple perspectives of political, economic, and social history. The students will approach modern world history both chronologically and thematically, using the six themes of (1) interaction between societies, (2) change and continuity over time, (3) technology and demography, (4) social structure, (5) cultural and intellectual developments, and (6) states and political identities. Debates, historical trials (World War I), research papers, analytical essays, and oral presentations are among the methodologies used in this course.

United States History*

This year-long Fifth Form course covers the breadth of American history from colonization to the present. The political, economic, and diplomatic developments are at the heart of the course, but social and intellectual history is covered as well. The course combines a traditional chronological approach with an emphasis on selected themes and topics including: the development of the United States as a world power; the socio-economic, racial, and ethnic diversity of American society; the development of the American political tradition (sectionalism, citizenship); and the role of government in the regulation of the economy. Readings include narrative history, news articles, primary sources, and other supplementary materials. Students will acquire a critical lens for the understanding of contemporary issues, such as the tension among liberty, equality, and justice.

This course is offered in both standard and advanced format.

Haverford school for boys

Upper School history students teach third-graders about the Founding Fathers.

Elective Courses

European Dictators*

This course will focus on 20th century Europe between the world wars with special attention to the rise of totalitarianism and the conditions and events that paved the way to power for Benito Mussolini in Italy, Joseph Stalin in the USSR, Adolph Hitler in Germany, and Francisco Franco in Spain. In addition to traditional history books such as European Dictatorships: 1918-1945, we will make use of memoirs such as Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and Levi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli, Picasso’s Guernica and Kampf’s Venus & Adonis, films like the Christopher Isherwood-inspired Cabaret and Leni Riefenstahl’s classic and chilling documentary Triumph of the Will, and the poetry of Osip Mandelstam and C. Day-Lewis.

Government and Politics*

This course will present an introduction to the study of government and politics. Our inquiries will begin with the intellectual and historical foundations of the western style of government. From there, we will learn about the organization of our own federal government, including the political forces that dictate its behavior, before discussing various Constitutional issues arising from current demographic, economic, and political trends. Finally, we will analyze the 2016 general elections in depth. This course will make use of various outside experts and speakers and will culminate in a final research project.

This course is offered in both standard and advanced format.

Modern Black Lives: African American History, 1964-Present

This course will explore questions related to the social and historical evolution of the history of Black America following the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. So often, African American Studies courses focus on the long period of enslavement culminating with the legal codes that emanate from the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This course will use poetry, music, art and traditional historical primary sources to build the collective narrative of Modern Black Lives from 1964 to the present day. Anticipated units include: Political Messaging in the Civil Rights Era, Post Civil-Rights Urban Realities, Black Arts Movement (1970s); The Crack Epidemic and The War on Drugs (1980s); Hip Hop Politics (1990s); Black Music in the New Millennium; Black Lives Matter Movement (2010s).

Modern Middle East History

This one-semester elective provides an overview of the modern Middle East. This examination includes state and regime formations, international relations, and contrasting domestic politics. Additionally, the course will examine the theoretical roots of Islamic fundamentalism and its effect on the formulation, growth, and actions of radical Islamic terrorist organizations. We also will evaluate contemporary issues surrounding U.S. foreign policy as it pertains to the politics, economics, and conflicts of the Middle East.

Political Olympic History

This course focuses on the study of political conflicts through the lens of the Olympic Games. We will focus specifically on Olympic years in which the games were particularly controversial. Starting in Ancient Greece and studying how the games were a direct reflection of Greek society, we will then turn to the first modern games in 1896. From there, we will examine the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Mexico City in 1968 (particularly under the scope of African American rights), Munich in 1972, and the boycotts of the 1980 and 1984 games in Moscow and Los Angeles. The course will conclude with an analysis of the Beijing Olympics of 2008.

Roman Archaeology

This interdisciplinary class will use material culture in order to understand Roman history and culture. We will pay particular attention to the relation of art, architecture and artifacts with the political, social and religious institutions of Rome, Italy and the Roman provinces. Topics will include the creation of Roman national identity, the landscape of the city of Rome, and the experience of living in a Roman city. (This is a History course. Knowledge of Latin is NOT required.)

Social Psychology

This course for Sixth Form students examines the principles of social psychology: that is, how individuals think, feel, and behave in regard to other people and how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affected by others. The course will concentrate on the process of social thinking, such as motivation, leadership, conformity, obedience and persuasion, and social relations, including aggression, altruism,prejudice and attraction. General principles of coping, grouping identities, and social stress will be discussed. In addition to readings from the text, the course will include discussions of “case studies,” film presentations and journal writing.

Contemporary International Relations

The 21st century has been characterized by rapid change and increasing globalization, impacting individuals in societies in unprecedented ways and creating complex global political challenges. This one-semester survey course explores the intricacies of how global leaders in the international community must balance past interactions and future projections while making present choices. Using specific case studies and current events, as well as participating in a semester-long online simulation while competing for class credit, students will confront IR concepts in real time. Topics will include discussing different political theories, analysis of decision making, examining the role that international organizations play in today global construct, and a survey of major geopolitical moments that have shaped the current world order.