History and Social Studies

Three years of history and social studies are required for graduation. Ninth-grade students will study Multicultural America, and tenth-grade students will take Contemporary World History or AP European History. Juniors and seniors will have several options and will choose from a set of electives, which may include: AP American History; AP European History; American Environmental History; Genocide and Holocaust Studies; Urban Research and Design; Politics, Principles, and Public Policy; Memory, Culture, and Identity; Modern Middle East History; Russian History; and Topics in History. These elective courses will be offered on a rotating basis, and any of them can be taken to fulfill the required third year of study.

History and Social Studies Faculty

Multicultural America
Year – 6 credits

Americans in the 21st century continue to struggle over the meaning and substance of the nation’s democratic ideals. In the process, they must navigate complex sets of institutionalized forms of power and privilege, which significantly shape their life chances and opportunities. This course focuses on issues of social justice and the social construction of both individual and national identities and on how individuals operate and dream within community contexts shaped significantly by race, class, gender, sexuality, and power. We will use a multicultural, interdisciplinary lens to explore the ways I which identity-based conflicts have shaped American politics and social interactions as well as struggles for power and rights conducted on a more global scale. Students will be pressed to explore their personal values and to think critically about the meaning of social justice and equity.

Contemporary World History
Year – 6 credits

This course will examine important events, ideas, institutions, and developments throughout the world from the late nineteenth century to the present. Each trimester will be organized around a discrete theme. We will begin with a study of imperialism, nationalism, World War I, and the Russian Revolution; we will explore the experiences and contributions of multiple individuals and the relationships among nations in many regions of the world. From a global perspective, we will investigate World War II, genocide, and the Cold War. We will trace the development of China’s Communist Revolution, decolonization, and the many forces that have shaped the Middle East in the twentieth century. In addition to developing a strong command over the material, we will develop skills essential to the success of thoughtful, scholarly students. Through lecture, discussion, film, and a careful reading and analysis of primary and secondary documents, students will examine issues from multiple points of view. Throughout the year, we will work to develop, articulate, and defend our ideas, and, in doing so, we will expand our capacities for critical thinking.

AP European History
Year - 6 credits

This college-level course requires the following:

  • Extensive (at least one hour) nightly reading of college-level text
  • Written analysis of primary and secondary sources
  • Timed weekly essay writing
  • A willingness to devote the time required for mastery of detailed content material

The course serves as an intensive study of the history of Europe from 1400 to the present. From the time of the Renaissance through the collapse of communism, this class teaches the evolution of political, cultural, military, economic, philosophical, and religious ideals. Although there are certainly a lot of names, wars, and dates involved, AP European History is primarily a class about ideas. We will pursue our study of European history from a thematic approach each trimester. The first trimester will be devoted to the intellectual break with tradition from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment.

Students will discover the ideas and thoughts that influence the Long-19thcentury from 1789 (French Revolution) to the outbreak of World War I (1914), which will be the focus of the second trimester. Our third trimester will be devoted to responses to war, revolution, and totalitarian regimes in the 20thcentury. Throughout class, we will analyze primary and secondary sources, stressing the importance of their connection to the ideas and themes of history. Students will develop critical thinking and analysis skills through the use of these documents and sources. All students will prepare to take the AP European history exam in the spring. Students will practice with free-response and document-based questions taken directly from past AP exams.

AP American History
Year - 6 credits

This college-level course requires the following:

  • Extensive (at least one hour) nightly reading of college-level text
  • Written analysis of primary and secondary sources
  • Timed weekly essay writing
  • A willingness to devote the time required for mastery of detailed content materials

This course will cover the American experience from 1400 to the present. The course will be organized thematically as well as chronologically. We will begin with the transatlantic Age of Revolution, exploring the American Revolution in a global context. The course will trace the development of the American nation and the persistent challenges to American nationalism throughout the 19thcentury. We will chart the origins of the Civil War and assess the radicalism of Reconstruction. Industrialization, the Progressive reform movement, the New Deal, the domestic consequences of the world wars, the Cold War, and de-industrialization will be some of the additional themes examined. Lectures, discussions, films, and primary document analysis will provide the basis for our exploration into the American past. Students will master analytical writing, oral argumentation, and critical thinking skills, and students will read secondary works penned by some of the greatest modern historians.

History 11/12: Urban Research and Design: Communities and Civic Engagement
Year – 6 credits

This course seeks to breach the traditional classroom walls, pushing students outside of the confines of Winchester Thurston and reducing the boundaries between the city and the school. Cities acquire their shape and function from the dynamic interaction of social, cultural, political, ecological, and economic systems. Urban design connects these various systems in order to create places and programs that elevate the human condition. Broadly conceived, urban designers fuse various disciplines—ranging from architecture to political science to environmental science—to promote the creation of communities that connect people and places, raise the quality of life, and address recognized impediments to long-term sustainability. Global trends underscore the importance of thoughtful design. By 2050, human geographers believe that 75% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, and the cities in which you will live, work, and raise families will face difficult challenges involving social inequality, housing, transportation, deteriorating infrastructure, post-industrial revitalization, environmental sustainability, crime, and food security. Throughout this course, you will be challenged to address these issues and imagine creative solutions. We will explore these issues through hands-on activities, course readings, conversations with experts and community members, and extensive fieldwork throughout the city. You will become familiar with different aspects of urban site design, and you will work individually and collaboratively to address social issues and to create two studio projects. This course envisions students directing their own learning, pursuing their intellectual interests, and making a lasting, valuable contribution to the Pittsburgh community.

History 11/12: Genocide and Holocaust Studies
Year – 6 credits

Genocide and Holocaust Studies is designed to develop student awareness of the issues associated with the concept of genocide. It will explore historical examples of genocide using a diversity of approaches, which include, history, literature, sociology, economics, and political science. Students will first engage in building a theoretical framework of genocide and the role of human behavior in modern genocide. The dominant focus of the year will be the Holocaust, but the Armenian genocide, the violent disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Sudan, and current issues around the world will be explored at length. Students will expand their knowledge of the conceptual framework of genocide including racism, Antisemitism, prejudice, and ideology. Students will collaborate to answer the questions: Who were the perpetrators? Who were the victims? How do we remember and memorialize these historical events? How have these countries reconciled with their own past?

History 11/12: American Identities and Global Citizens
Year—6 credits

This course is designed to increase students’ awareness of the various roles America has assumed on the global stage. We will examine the ways in which international affairs have challenged and shaped Americans’ perceptions of themselves and their nation. Students will examine moments of international conflict and war as well as efforts to create international organizations dedicated to promoting global integration and peace. The dynamic interaction of formal foreign policies and reform programs pressed by ordinary citizens will form the fulcrum of the course. This approach will allow us to examine the ways in which local, national, and international issues intersect and influence students’ daily lives. This course will encourage students to model civility while engaging frank and open debate. It is hoped that students’ work will empower to see themselves as global citizens and agents of change, capable of making a constructive difference beyond the classroom.

AP Economics
Year - 6 credits

Open to juniors and seniors. This course begins with a study of the content of the AP curriculum in Microeconomics and ends with Macroeconomics. Students are required to take the AP exam in either Microeconomics or Macroeconomics, but they may choose to take both. These are separate two-hour exams, one offered in the morning, and the other on the same day in the afternoon. The focus of Microeconomics is on factors that influence economic decisions made by individuals and firms. Major topics covered include supply and demand analysis, theory of consumer choice, costs of production, market structures, and market failure and the role of government. Macroeconomics focuses on the economy as a whole. Major topics involve measuring economic variables related to production and prices, and developing models that explain the relationship between these variables in the short-run and long-run. Graphical analysis is used extensively throughout the year. A strong background in mathematics is required.

NOTE: This course does not meet the WT graduation requirement for the third year of history.


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555 Morewood Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
P: 412-578-7500
F: 412-578-7504

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4225 Middle Road
Allison Park, PA 15101
P: 412-486-8341
F: 412-486-8378

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