Malone Scholars Online Network Courses

MSON courses provide Winchester Thurston students with the opportunity to take special topic courses offered by select private schools around the country. Courses use a blended approach, combining synchronous, real-time video conferencing seminars delivered in high-definition classroom set-ups, with asynchronous instruction such as recorded lectures and exercises students complete outside of the class. Courses are taught by faculty from the Malone Scholars Schools and the Stanford Online High School. Each course has a minimum of six and a maximum of 16 students, allowing for a highly interactive, virtual discussion seminar setting. Courses meet twice each week for an hour and are either one semester (September through December or January to mid-May) or year-long.


  • Attendance in class is required: Students may not miss more than five class periods in a semester. However, students can login to their class from home if they have the required technology.
  • Students who enroll in an MSON class that overlaps with the time of a WT class must receive permission from their WT instructors to leave his/her class early or come to class late.
  • Students are responsible for carefully reading the course syllabus and policies for attendance, assignment requirements, due dates, and grading policies.
  • All enrollments for MSON courses will require approval from the Director of Upper School and the Director of eLearning.
  • MSON courses cannot be used to meet departmental core requirements.
  • Courses and grades earned are listed on Winchester Thurston transcripts.

2018 - 2019 Course Offerings

Year-Long Courses

  • Arabic I

Fall Courses

  • Building Utopia
  • Debate Local, Think Global
  • Diversity in a Global Comparative Perspective
  • Etymology of Scientific Terms
  • Introduction to Organic Chemistry
  • Medical Bioethics
  • Modernism

Spring Courses

  • Advanced Topics in Chemistry
  • American Voice, American Speech: Word as Action from Anne Bradstreet to Donald Trump
  • Comparative Ecosystems
  • Environmental Bioethics
  • James Joyce's "Ulysses"
  • Man’s Inhumanity to Man: Genocide and Human Rights in the 20th Century
  • Positive Psychology

World Languages

ARABIC I (first part of a two-year sequence) (full year)

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 9-12 (juniors receive priority)

This course is an introduction to Modern Standard Arabic, the language of formal speech and most printed materials in the Arab-speaking world. Students will learn to read and write the Arabic alphabet and will develop beginning proficiency in the language. Through frequent oral and written drills, students will develop their basic communication skills.

TEACHER: Kaveh Niazi, Stanford Online High School, Stanford, CA
Time: Monday / Thursday 5:45 –6:45 p.m. EST

Humanities and Social Sciences


TEACHER: Sharon Louise Howell, Indian Springs School, Indian Springs, AL

Prerequisite: Completion of US History (prior or concurrent)
Target Grade Level: 11-12

In this course, students will listen across history to the American voice—from Bradstreet and John Winthrop, through Franklin, Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Jacobs, Douglass, Twain, Cole Porter, James Baldwin, and Gertrude Stein, to MLK, Dylan, Steinem, and Obama. We will listen to music, look at art and film, and consider the more tangled “voice” of advertising, television, and political theater.

Even as it has proliferated and transformed, the American voice has maintained an urgent ambivalence about what it means to speak the truth, who should speak it, and to what end. Some of our guiding questions will be: What does it mean to speak as an American--to have an “American” voice? Does it have a distinctive character? Does it want to cause trouble, or solve problems, or both? Does it need to interact with history? We will look at the ongoing, central tension in much of American speech between the individual and the democratic collective, and also consider the related tension between reflection and action as conditions of possibility. We will also investigate what forms of speech are surrounding our students and how we might replicate them in order to understand them.

Among other writing assignments, students will maintain an ongoing analytical blog and submit a final paper on a topic of the student’s choosing in consultation with the teacher.

Time: Monday / Wednesday, 3:35-4:35 p.m. EST

BUILDING UTOPIA (fall semester)

TEACHER: Mary Ellen Carsley, Severn School, Severna Park, MD

Prerequisite: None; background in Ancient and European History recommended.
Target Grade Level: 9-12

Utopia, “a good place,” as defined by the Greeks, is a term coined by Sir Thomas More referring to a fictional ideal island society. The act of intentionally shaping one’s environment to be “a good place” modeled after sustainability, economy, and delight is a uniquely human endeavor. This semester long study examines the course of Western Architecture from the Ancient Egyptians to the 21st century through the lens of the primary philosophic ideas that have been the drivers of aesthetic vision of Western civilization architecture through the ages. The course will offer an introduction to design principles, the visual language of architecture, and design analysis. The necessities, desires, and spiritual beliefs which go into the shaping of a culture’s aesthetic vision of their ideal built environment will be examined in a series of seven units of the course of the semester:

  1. Forming the Human Universe: Mark Making and the Necessity of Shelter
  2. Creativity and Humankind: Beauty Defined and the Building of Civilizations
  3. Immortality and the Gods: Building for the Greater Glory
  4. Getting Perspective: Perfect Geometry in Design and Building in the Humanist and Rational World
  5. Power and Production: Society and the Machine
  6. Modern Utopia and the Architect’s Vision: Shaping an Individual World
  7. Back to the Future: Palimpsest and Irony

Time: Monday / Wednesday, 3:35-4:35 p.m. EST


TEACHER: Dan Jacobs, Roeper School, Oakland County, MI

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

Water justice. Gentrification. Housing. Education. Race Relations. Public Safety. Environmental Issues. Is it wrong to shut off water service to households that are delinquent on their water bills? Should a city invest limited funds in education or public safety? Should cities and states focus more on improving neighborhoods or enticing business investments? When in conflict, should environmental issues take priority over the needs of businesses? What about mandating affirmative action quotas when a large, national business moves into a low-income neighborhood?

Many cities in the United States (and around the world) struggle with these and numerous other conflicts. We will use our own local expefriences to take deep dives into the facts and philosophies underlying he challenges, values, and perspectives that shape our cities, neighborhoods, and homes, and that form the foundation of our experiences within them.

This course uses the city of Detroit as the starting point to explore the relationship of a government to its people, of rights and responsibilities of citizens, of the balance between environment and economic activity, and more. Students will be given an overview of different issues, choose debate topics, and vet different ideas in the crucible of critical thinking, focusing on using debate as a tool for deeper understanding, and not simply as a means to win a competition. Post Detroit, students will teach others in the course about important topics in their own neighborhoods, towns, and states, with the goal of running other debates in the class about their own local topics.

Time: Tuesday/Friday 4:40-5:40 p.m. EST


TEACHER: John Aden, Canterbury School, Ft. Wayne, IN

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

This course examines the ways our Human Family has sought to create, marshal, contest, and maintain identities through Culture and relations of power. These identities can be appreciated through “lenses of analysis.” The course critically engages the traditional “Big Three” lenses of analysis: Race, Class, and Gender, understanding that Culture serves as an important backdrop against which these identities emerge. Once students appreciate the important ways the Social Sciences have engaged with, written about, and debated these three core modes of analysis, the course expands to incorporate other, equally rich, lenses: age, ableism, intellectual diversity, geographic diversity, cognitive and neurological diversity, and the business case for Diversity, as well as how to study synergistically intertwined phenomena. Film and Critical Film Studies, as well as the role Colonialism has played in the major conflicts of the last 500 years, each serve to enrich student understandings of Diversity.

Time: Tuesday / Thursday 3:35 – 4:35 p.m. EST


TEACHER: Ellen Johnson, Wilmington Friends School, Wilmington, DE

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

This course will focus on such cases as environmental sustainability, global energy and food resources, gathered from sources in literature, journalism, and film. The academic study of ethics examines how people make the decisions. Curricula will build on a foundation of theoretical moral theories, more specifically, how one makes decisions when faced with complex, often controversial, issues. No prior knowledge of philosophy is assumed, however, authentic assessment of students’ initial facility with logical analysis will ensure that all students are challenged to grow and deepen their theoretical and practical understandings of the subject.

Time: Tuesday / Friday, 3:35 – 4:35 p.m. EST

JAMES JOYCE’S “ULYSSES” (spring semester)

TEACHER: Aaron Lehman, Porter-Gaud School, Charleston, South, SC

Prerequisite: MSON Modernism (fall semester)
Target Grade Level: 11-12

If novels were mountains, James Joyce’s Ulysses would be Everest: massive, daunting, awe- inspiring—and, at times, responsible for making people surrender. Joyce created the most beautiful—and perhaps the most maddeningly difficult—literature of the Twentieth Century, prose that has thrilled and often intimidated readers for generations, and his 1922 masterpiece changed the landscape for the novel as a whole. This course will unpack the mystery and loveliness of Joyce’s work, giving students the close-reading tools to appreciate and make sense of Joyce’s particular literary power, to scale the edifice of Ulysses to see it for what it truly is: a marvel of stylistic achievement, a testament to the ways in which language shapes us as we shape it, and, at its core, a gorgeous love story and an exploration of the everyday heroism that we often overlook.

In particular, we will explore how Joyce tried to render the authentic human experience through language: how Joyce wanted literature to look and feel more like life than like “art,” how he wanted literature to mirror the texture of the actual thinking and feeling mind. To that end, while the course will give students an intensive look at arguably the greatest literary mind since Shakespeare, it will also have us—teacher and student alike—consider what it means to inhabit fully our hearts, minds, and selves in the modern world.

Time: Wednesday / Friday 3:35 – 4:35 p.m. EST


TEACHER: David Seward, Winchester Thurston School, Pittsburgh, PA

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

The purpose of the course is, to quote the textbook, "By teaching … the root elements of medical terminology – the prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms of Greek and Latin … not only to teach students modern medical terminology, but to give them the ability to decipher the evolving language of medicine throughout their careers."

This is in many ways a language course, and deals with the elements that are used to create terms to meet the specific needs of medical scientists. As material is introduced, students will complete practice exercises during each class meeting, as well as complete approximately one quiz per week. Outside of class, students are expected to analyze and define fifty terms each week. Additional material deals with especially complex etymologies, the history of our understanding of certain aspects of medical science, and relevant material from Greek and Latin texts.

Time: Tuesday / Friday 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EST


TEACHER: George Dalbo, Mounds Park Academy, St. Paul, MN

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

The story of genocide in the 20th century stands in stark contrast to the social progress and technological advancements made over the last 100 years. As brutal culmination of nationalist and racist attitudes and policies, as well as a poignant reminder of both the cruelty and resilience of human beings, these genocides punctuate modern history with harsh reality. This course explores the many facets of genocide through the lenses of history, literature, art, sociology, and law. We will turn our attention to understanding the framing of genocide as a legal concept. Using the holocaust as our foundation, we will examine examples of additional genocides from the 20th century. Ultimately, we will train our attention to the enduring legacy of genocides around the world, especially as we consider attempts to recognize, reconcile, and memorialize genocide from the individual to the collective. Students will read and analyze primary source material, secondary historical accounts, genocide testimony and memoirs, in addition to examining individual fictional and artistic responses and the collective memories and memorials of whole societies.

Time: Wednesday / Friday 4:40 – 5:40 p.m. EST

MEDICAL BIOETHICS (fall semester)

TEACHER: Ellen Johnson, Wilmington Friends School, Wilmington, DE

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11 - 12

The academic study of ethics examines how we make the decisions. This course will focus on such cases as medical practice, medical research and development, and health care policy, examined through a wide array of case studies, gathered from sources in literature, journalism, and film. Curricula will build on a foundation of theoretical moral theories, more specifically, how we make decisions when faced with complex, often controversial, issues. No prior knowledge of philosophy is assumed, however, authentic assessment of students’ initial facility with logical analysis will ensure that all students are challenged to grow and deepen their theoretical and practical understandings of the subject.

Time: Tuesday / Friday, 3:35 – 4:35 p.m. EST

MODERNISM (fall semester)

TEACHER: Aaron Lehman, Porter-Gaud School, Charleston, SC

Prerequisite: Completion of AP Literature (may be concurrent)
Target Grade Level: 11-12

Literary Modernism, that period dating roughly from 1910 until World War II, was at once totally thrilling and utterly strange. At their core, Modernist writers challenged all forms of certainty, all forms of accepted knowledge—exploding our notions of what poems and novels should look like, of what the human self was, of the very nature of experience—in attempts to, as Ezra Pound declared, “Make it new.” In this course, we’ll explore that thrilling and strange literature of Modernism, investigating how its poets and novelists created forms and textures and works—at times confusing and shocking—that the world had never seen before. Looking at the poetry of Yeats, Pound, Eliot, Moore, Williams, and Stevens and the fiction of Hemingway, Faulkner, Woolf, and Joyce, we’ll consider the ways in which the Modernists both shaped and were shaped by the world around them—and how they managed to produce work that feels, even some hundred years later, so exciting, innovative, real, and human.

Time: Wednesday/Friday, 3:35 - 4:35 p.m. EST

POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY (spring semester)

TEACHER: Blake Keogh, Waynflete School, Portland, ME

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 10-12

This course begins by providing a historical context of positive psychology within broader psychological research, and helps explain why the field is of particular importance to those in a high school or college setting. Students will be introduced to the primary components and related functions of the brain in order to understand the biological foundation of our emotional experiences. Current research will be used to develop a broader sense of what positive psychology is and is not, and how it can be applied in students’ own lives. Additionally, students will gain an understanding of basic research methods and their application to the science of psychology.

This course will require substantial reading (sometimes on par with 100 level college courses) and writing. Students will be asked to reflect regularly on their individual experiences in order to integrate course material into their daily lives. One of the key learning outcomes is to have each participant identify his or her own strengths while simultaneously recognizing and respecting the attributes others bring to the course.

Time: Monday / Thursday 3:35-4:35 p.m. EST



TEACHER: David Walker, Maret School, Washington, D.C.

Prerequisite: Completion of Chemistry (Laptop required.)
Target Grade Level: 11-12

This semester course explores real-world applications to chemistry that are often skimmed over or omitted in most chemistry courses. Possible topics include nuclear, medical, atmospheric, industrial, food, water, and consumer product chemistry. Learn how a nuclear power plant works, how fuels are chemically altered for vehicles, what chemicals are added to drinking water and why they are added, how ores are processed into useful products, and why a country’s standard of living can be determined by its production of chlorine or other important chemicals. Students will explore the periodic table for daily applications and technologies, from cell phones to photovoltaic cells to medical treatments. This course will be heavy in applications and theory, leaving out much of the problem-solving found in other courses.

Materials required: Personal device/laptop

Time: Monday / Thursday, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EST


TEACHER: Marks S. McWhorter, St. Andrews Episcopal School, Ridgeland, MS

Prerequisite: Completion of High School Biology
Target Grade Level: 11-12

Time: Tuesday / Thursday, 4:40-5:40 p.m. EST

Comparative Ecosystems will provide an opportunity for students to study and understand large-scale interactions between biological communities and their physical environments on a global scale. Students will study geological processes, soils, and nutrient availability, analyze how these characteristics shape environments, and examine nutrient cycling, weather and climate, water cycles, and organismal interactions among these systems.

Students will engage in interactive lab-based projects examining ecosystems within their own environments, and compare these results with their peers, as well as data from ecosystems around the globe. This style of analysis creates an opportunity for students to compare and contrast data and understand how statistics and collection methods are used to appropriately study communities and ecosystem processes. Students will also collect data on the environment in which they live. By studying material in an immersive setting, this approach provides an opportunity for students to see how ecological interactions occur and appreciate how climate systems connect these habitats on a global scale.

Lab kit will be provided to each school

Time: Tuesday / Thursday, 4:40-5:40 p.m. EST


TEACHER: David Walker, Maret School, Washington, D.C.

Prerequisite: Completion of Chemistry
Target Grade Level: 11-12

This semester course will provide useful background information in organic chemistry by covering topics not typically found in high school chemistry courses. The course will give insight into the importance of the chemistry of carbon compounds to our daily lives. Topics covered will include organic nomenclature, structural formulas, stereochemistry, bonding, reaction mechanisms, chemical transformations of functional groups. Completion of the course should make students more confident in their chemical background when entering college biology or chemistry courses.

Time: Monday / Thursday, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EST

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