An MVCDS Education

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Social Studies

An MVCDS graduate will be able to draw on foundational knowledge in history, geography, economics, civics, and culture to make global connections to understand current issues and their historical underpinnings. They will ask questions, problem­ solve, and engage in civil discourse for the ethical stewardship of our democracy and our world. In their exploration, students will fluidly and analytically employ diverse sources, conveying their conclusions in a variety of ways.
  • SS-African History

    This course will focus on the recent history of Africa.  We will start with the colonization of Africa, and the impact that European intervention had on Africa.  Of particular interest will be the impact of the slave trade, the Boer Wars, the 1885 Berlin Conference, the world wars, and other events that would shape the future of Africa.  It will also look at the problems of decolonization and the struggle for independence that African nations and people endured. Finally, we will turn to modern issues such as economic growth,  terrorism, water issues in Africa, the Genocide in Sudan, the civil war in Congo, and the AIDS epidemic. Most readings will be focused on the African perspective during this period.
     
    By the end of the course, students will have an appreciation of the complexities of modern African history.  Students will know the geography of Africa, both physical and political.
     
  • SS-Amer Hist/Gov

    Globalization and Evolution
    Is the United States the first modern nation based upon ideas and values, or the usual aggregate of historical happenstance and cultural diffusion?  In this course, students will explore the historical, cultural, and governmental underpinnings of the United States in order to understand who we are now.  They will learn how our government and judiciary operate at the state, federal, and local level, while also delving into how the “promise” of the United States has played out in various historical eras.  Students will be assessed with a mixture of projects, presentations, tests, and quizzes.  This class is a full year course, unlike past years.  (Meets a graduation requirement.)
     
  • SS-AP US History**

    The purpose of the Advanced Placement United States History course is to acquaint students with the ideas, events, values, conflicts, and achievements of the United States from its earliest beginnings to the modern period.  This course is to be viewed not as an end – not as the last course in American history you will ever take – but rather as a beginning – your first detailed look at the people and ideas that have shaped this nation.  Classes consist of teacher- and student-led lessons, discussions and analyses of readings, in-class projects and activities, audio-visual materials, writing assignments, and a variety of other historical activities.  Facts, names, and events are important, but they are not the sum total of history.  This course is designed to move beyond that to look at other issues.  The reading load is significant, and students must be motivated to keep up with the workload. (Fulfills the same graduation credit as the combination of American Studies and American Government) (Estimated exam cost: $95)
  • SS-Applied Ethics

    Prerequisite: English II. 
    This course explores the central questions of moral philosophy: how should we act and how should we live? We start by comparing competing theories of what makes actions right or wrong: utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. By examining arguments for and against these views, students will develop a framework for writing and reasoning about moral problems and evaluating judgments of right and wrong. Weeks 2 and 3 of the intensive are devoted to particular issues: abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, genetic engineering, animal welfare, and criminal justice and punishment. With the help of guest speakers, field trips, and independent research, students will apply the study of moral reasoning to these problems by developing and defending moral arguments. Through this process, students will learn to ask questions, identify their own moral assumptions, raise and respond to challenges to their own points of view, and write and revise a paper that presents and defends a stance on a moral issue. At the end of the intensive students will have the opportunity to present their arguments and field questions from the wider community.
  • SS-Cold War

    This is a one rotation, upper level, history elective. This course will examine the different eras of the Cold War, and how recent research has impacted our historical understanding of this complex conflict. Our investigation will use a great deal of primary source documents and student led discussion. Students will be comparing the historiography of the time of the Cold War to recent research that has been made available post-Soviet Collapse.
  • SS-Cultural Anthro

    This one-rotation course focuses on the rich cultural lives of humans, using a cultural ecology framework. Aspects of culture such as language, subsistence patterns, social order, family structure, social class and status, and spiritual belief will be covered. Class work will rely heavily on discussion and project-based learning. The major purpose of the course is to present the essential similarities and differences between cultures to enable students to better understand the complex issues facing us as we attempt to communicate among cultures today.
  • SS-Economics

    Economics is the social science that deals with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services; it has also been called the "dismal science" for its traditionally boring approach to what should be an interesting and vital part of our lives. This course will take a real-world approach to economics, using enough theory to understand why gasoline prices fluctuate as they do, how profit drives music industry decisions, why the cost of college has outrun inflation for decades, and whether baseball players are actually paid too much.
    We will cover such topics as how markets work, the relationship between business and labor, the role of the government in the economy, banks and the stock market, unemployment and inflation, and the global economy. The focus in this course is on combining readings with projects and simulations to understand the concepts that drive the economy in the world.
     
  • SS-Evolution

    The goal of this course is to understand how human society developed over time. We accomplish this goal by investigating what makes us human and  by analyzing how civilizations remain strong, forge their legacies, and expand their borders. Ways of measuring engagement and understanding include essays, unit projects, map quizzes, journal responses, annotations, and a design-your-own project.  The course begins with the question "What makes us human?" and then tracks the rise of and development of world civilizations through the Renaissance. We will rely on both primary and secondary sources as students learn to read closely and analyze texts for bias and important information. There will be many class discussions on various topics and several chances for students themselves to present information to the rest of the class. Ideally, the students will walk away with a good overview of human history, and this will spark an interest in one of the more focused social studies classes.
  • SS-Globalization

    Whether or not you agree with Thomas Friedman that “the world is flat,” we certainly live in a world where the actions of one country send ripple effects throughout the world.  What is our responsibility to other countries, and what should we expect in return?  This question will drive our explorations on the topic of globalization.  Beginning with Middle Ages, we will analyze technological and cultural shifts that have led to globalization, its key players, as well as the political, cultural, environmental, and financial implications of globalization. Students will examine major historic events, agreements guiding international political and financial cooperation, study current events pertaining to course themes, and learn how to analyze key issues and identify the underlying values of their views.  Major assessments include debates, role playing, tests, and research.
     
  • SS-Human Geography (I)

    Prerequisite: None
    This is a social studies course for map lovers, data geeks, and students who are curious about the broad forces influencing people throughout the world. Through simulations, hands-on activities, and various models, we’ll piece together a picture of humanity using various measures, from gender equality to press freedom to hospital bed density. We’ll look at the forces behind culture and its diffusion, as well as forces that shape economies, the modern nation state, and population movements. Students will apply what they learn by taking up one major world issue and analyzing it using the tools they’ve  learned. 
  • SS-Int. Relations

    The dynamics of international relations change constantly. Pictures of students facing down their own government’s tanks in Tiananmen Square have been replaced by images of counter terrorist operations in the Middle East. What are the historical and political causes of regional instability suggested in these images, and what can they tell us about our changing world order? Is the nation-state still the traditional power center of the international system in a world increasingly affected by globalization and humanitarian crises? How does the transnational flow of people, goods, and ideas shape some of the most pressing issues of today, such as state security and sovereignty? Students address these and other questions as they examine various geopolitical theories and the methodologies scholars use to understand and analyze world events.

    This course covers both the theoretical and the real world underpinning of international relations. Students learn how different actors, populations, regions, and global organizations relate to and affect one another. In addition, they examine issues such as culture, religion, environment, and technology alongside history, government, and economics. By exploring the interactions of these variables, students think critically about the complex forces that shape our world. Students will engage in debates, and run simulations to see how they would do as leaders of nations in the world today.
     
  • SS-Medieval History

    Prerequisite: None
    This course will examine European history from the fall of the Roman Empire up to the beginning of the Renaissance. The social, cultural, political, and economic issues facing Europe and the near East after the fall of Rome will be examined. The rise of feudalism in Europe, and the role that the church played in the lives of everyone from peasant to king will be studied. We will cover topics from the rise of Christianity and Islam to the Crusades to the Germanic successor states to the Carolingian Empire. The Vikings, the Mongols, the Moors, and more will all feature a role in this course.
  • SS-Modern Africa

     Prerequisite:  Evolution and Globalization
    This course will focus on the recent history of Africa.  We will start with the colonization of Africa, and the impact that European intervention had on Africa.  Of particular interest will be the impact of the slave trade, the Boer Wars, the 1885 Berlin Conference, the world wars, and other events that would shape the future of Africa.  It will also look at the problems of decolonization and the struggle for independence that African nations and people endured.  Finally, we will turn to modern issues such as economic growth,  terrorism,  water issues in Africa, the Genocide in Sudan, the civil war in Congo, and the AIDS epidemic. Most readings will be focused on the African perspective during this period.
     
    By the end of the course, students will have an appreciation of the complexities of modern African history.  Students will know the geography of Africa, both physical and political.
  • SS-Narratives in US History

    If history is written by the victors, there are a whole lot of voices not reflected in the dominant narrative.  In this course, students will examine American history from the perspective of people who are not always seen in the “single story”  of our history:  African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, women, people from various Asian cultures, the  LGBTQ population, and the poor, to name a few.  Students will examine their own identities and look at how these identities interact with U.S. history through examination of  documents, images, and first-hand accounts of events from a variety of perspectives.  Major assessments include simulations, presentations, papers, and various forms of creative expression.
  • SS-Political Phetoric

    This course explores questions about justice, liberty, authority, and power that lie at the heart of contemporary political debates. We will take up these questions through five principal texts: Plato’s Socratic dialogues, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. Topics include the nature of wisdom, the basis of authority, the trade-off between freedom and security, the scope of rights, and the role of moral values in politics. Students will write in a variety of genres and apply their understanding of course texts to current events.
  • SS-Propaganda Studies

    Prerequisite: None
    This course examines the nature of propaganda and persuasion, with special attention to 20th and 21st century political trends. We start by discussing the psychology of belief formation in order to explain the success of common propaganda techniques. Next we examine the role of propaganda in politics, with special attention to the rise of dictatorships and legal challenges to free speech. This segment of the course draws on a variety of historical texts, including film, speech, and memoir. In the third part of the course students will break into teams to compete against each other by creating their own propaganda campaigns, asking as they go whether the manipulative techniques of propaganda can be justified if the propagandist uses them for a good end. Writing, reading, and discussion figure heavily in this course.
  • SS-Social Psych

    The purpose of this psychology course is to introduce the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings.  In particular, we will be focusing on the relationship between the individual and the society that they live in.   Students will learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice, the history of social psychology, and how we influence others around us and are influenced by those around us.  Some of the topics covered in this class will include: individuals and groups, conformity and obedience, attraction, intergroup relations, and judgment and decision-making.
  • SS-U.S. Narratives

    If history is written by the victors, there are a whole lot of voices not reflected in the dominant narrative.  In this course, students will examine American history from the perspective of people who are not always seen in the “single story”  of our history:  African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, women, people from various Asian cultures, the  LGBTQ population, and the poor, to name a few.  Students will examine their own identities and look at how these identities interact with U.S. history through examination of  documents, images, and first-hand accounts of events from a variety of perspectives.  Major assessments include simulations, presentations, papers, and various forms of creative expression.
  • SS-War & Society

    The class will examine the impact of the military and conflict on both the ancient and modern world in terms of social and cultural norms and changes.  Students will research and analyze the strategic, technological, cultural, and political influence of warfare on human history and the development of civilizations from Ancient Greece to the war in Afghanistan. How and why we go to war, and the consequences of those wars will be the primary focus of the class. There will be several debates as well as a research paper.
  • SS-World Wars

    This class will study the political, economic, social and cultural developments which led to the outbreak of World War 1. We will look at the war itself, and how the consequences of World War 1 caused World War 2. The Depression, the rise of totalitarian regimes, and the unwillingness of nations to prevent German and Japanese expansion will all be discussed. Finally, we will look at WW2, and examine how and why the war was fought the way it was. How the war ended, and the lead-in to the Cold War will end the course.
  • SS-Worldbuilding

    Prerequisites: English II and Evolution of Human Thought
    In this intensive, students will look at how stories are told across media - film, short stories, and video games.  We will be collaboratively building a shared world with interesting characters to meet, enticing settings to explore, and things to discover.  This world will have a history, a government, and an economic system, and will be designed to be consistent with other worlds we encounter in stories, film, and video games.  Students will have a choice to build a post-apocalyptic world, a futuristic science fiction world, or a high fantasy world.  For English credit, we will learn about character, setting, and plot, and students will write short stories about the characters in their world, demonstrating their skill in creating engaging characters and immersive settings.  For social studies credit, the students will be focussed on building realistic political and economic systems and looking at how they can function in the setting they have chosen. So if they go with a high fantasy setting, they would need to figure out what types of political units exist in the world, and how they interact with each other. Does magic exist? If so, how does it alter the economic activity of the people? Questions that are, more often than not, ignored in most fantasy stories.
    We will have a Model UN-style crisis simulation with other territories in this world, the outcome of which will change the world we have built, and become the “hook” for our roleplaying adventure.  Finally, the class will break into gaming groups and spend time with a character they’ve developed role-playing in their world - discovering the places they’ve created and building a shared narrative, which will lead to the final major story students will write about their character’s adventures with their group (plot).
    Expect to read a lot, write a lot, game a lot (video games and roleplaying), and build a deeply immersive shared world with your friends and classmates that you can explore through games.
    Required: A Steam account (free), a PC or MAC for playing online games, and access to a video streaming service (or have a DVD player).  We will provide dice, roleplaying rules, and a wiki for building our world.
    Recommended: Role-playing experience, game-mastering experience, and video game experience with RPGs, as well as a love of stories and writing.
Maumee Valley Country Day School is the only age 3 - 12th grade accredited, co-educational, independent school in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.