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Social Science Courses

Social Science Course Offerings

Year-Long and Advanced Placement Courses

Foundations of the Modern World

Grade level – 9 or 10

The course introduces students to the foundations of World History. Content includes the study of early civilizations (Middle East, India, China, Africa, and the Americas), Greece, Rome, the rise of Europe, and the beginnings of a global age. The course provides students with a perspective on past events that have come to shape the present conditions of the modern world. Emphasis will be placed on organization, writing, communication, and critical thinking skills.

The Modern World

Grade level – 10 or 11

Building on the material covered in Foundations of the Modern World, the course completes students’ study of World History by providing an in-depth look at the world's major cultures. Study of each of these societies will emphasize culture and geography, family life and structure, social organizations, education, religious beliefs and institutions, economic systems, political trends, and the intellectual and artistic accomplishments of individuals within the culture. The study of each culture will be supplemented by the development of reading, writing, research, geography, critical thinking, study/note-taking skills, as well as technological and presentation skills.

ELL World History

Grade level – 9 or 10

This course is designed as both an introductory course and a historical survey course that will enhance a student’s knowledge of key people, places, and events that have profoundly shaped the course of world history. Students will explore the key events that have influenced the development of civilizations and cultures for the past 5,000 years while developing reading, writing, researching, and note-taking skills. They will also work with technology and make oral presentations. Students in this course will receive additional vocabulary and writing support in their ELL class.

United States History

Grade level – 11

United States History introduces students to the study of American History. Examination of Colonial British North America, the American Revolution, and framing of the Constitution shape our early study. Important themes from this material will then be examined throughout the remainder of the course. Students will develop an understanding of American history and improve their essential communicative and critical thinking skills through emphasis on writing, the formation of historical arguments, and development of analytical reading skills through a variety of media. Film, online databases, books, online journals, and academic web resources expose students to a wide spectrum of opinions and views on American history. From this, students will form their own opinions and produce original work.

ELL United States History

Grade level – 11 or 12

Paralleling the US History course, this course moves at a slower pace for students enrolled in Northwood's English Language Learner program and incorporates more project-based learning.

Advanced Placement World History

Grade level – 10

Prerequisites: honors grades in the previous course and teacher recommendation.

This course is designed to be the equivalent of an introductory college-level world history course. Students will investigate significant individuals, events, developments, and processes in six historical periods from approximately 8000 B.C.E. to the present. Students develop and use the same skills, practices, and methods employed by historians: analyzing primary and secondary sources; developing historical arguments; making historical comparisons; and utilizing reasoning about contextualization, causation, and continuity and change over time. Throughout the course, five themes will be explored allowing students to make connections among historical developments in different times and places: interaction between humans and the environment; development and interaction of cultures; state building, expansion, and conflict; creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems; and development and transformation of social structures.

Advanced Placement United States History

Grade level – 11

Prerequisites: honors grades in the previous course and teacher recommendation.

This AP course is the equivalent of an introductory level college survey course. It will emphasize the skills, themes, and time periods of American history as laid out by the College Board in their recent curriculum redesign. Students will learn a significant volume of material through classroom instruction as well as independent learning. Through the year, students will familiarize themselves with the issues surrounding the settlement of, development of, and the rise of America. Topics include the evolution of Colonial British North America, the American Revolution and Constitution, the growth and expansion of the nation during the 19th century, the rise of industry in the late 19th century, Secession, Civil War, and Reconstruction, the evolution of equality, and major historical issues of the 20th century.

Advanced Placement Psychology

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: honors grades in the previous course and teacher recommendation.

This AP course provides an overview of current psychological research methods and theories. Students explore the therapies used by professional counselors and clinical psychologists and examine human reactions: how people learn and think, the process of human development and human aggression, altruism, intimacy, and self-reflection. Students study the core psychological concepts, such as the brain and sense functions, and learn to gauge human reactions, gather information, and form meaningful syntheses. The equivalent of a 100-level college survey course, AP Psychology prepares students for further studies in psychology and life sciences. To help prepare students for the AP exam, each unit exam is designed to replicate the AP Psychology exam. Students also participate in a variety of experiments. These range from quick in-class exercises to replications of famous experiments to self-designed experiments.

Advanced Placement Macroeconomics

Grade level – 11 or 12

Prerequisites: honors grades in previous course and teacher recommendation.

AP Macroeconomics is a college-level course which gives students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics. Essential concepts that are explored include the functions performed by an economic system and the way the tools of supply and demand are used to analyze the workings of a free market economy. Students will learn the distinction between absolute and comparative advantage and apply the principle to determine the basis on which mutually advantageous trade can take place between individuals and/or countries, and to identify comparative advantage from differences in opportunity costs. The course also introduces the business cycle to give students an overview of economic fluctuations and highlight the dynamics of unemployment, inflation, and economic growth.

Introduction to Entrepreneurship (year-long course)

Entrepreneurship is the process of growing ideas into a viable business or organization, and the entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset of how one approaches problems and proposes solutions. In the first trimester, the course will cover some of the basics of entrepreneurial management, marketing, and finance needed to launch new businesses. Students will acquire a toolkit for identifying and forming a new venture including creative thinking, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. In the second trimester, students will have the opportunity to formulate great ideas, turn them into business plans, and deliver on new technologies, products, and services. In the third trimester, Northwood students working in small groups will partner with local entrepreneurs and businesses to develop solutions to existing problems. Teamwork will be critical as the answers to these issues will not be found in a book. Students will utilize the various strengths of their teammates to create sophisticated solutions validated through research, interviews, and fieldwork.

Social Science Trimester Electives


Philosophy and Ethics of Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Philosophy and Ethics of Science Fiction and Fantasy is a demanding college preparatory philosophy course.  Students will acquire a basic understanding of philosophy and ethics by studying contemporary and classic science fiction books and movies.  Critical thinking and writing skills, solid reading, and a dedicated work ethic are necessary to succeed. Course work will include the completion of identification terms, quizzes, exams, papers, presentations, discussion, and debate. 

Introduction to Human Rights

The goal of this course is for students to understand the key historical, political, legal and moral influences that have shaped the idea of human rights, both in the U.S. and internationally. Students will be able to explain the concept of human rights and analyze the contemporary challenges and trends in human rights theory and practice. In addition to exploring historical events, the course will focus on current issues that are constantly emerging in the development, practice, and enforcement of human rights. Students will learn how to construct and advocate effective arguments as they analyze some of the challenges of contemporary human rights advocacy.


This introductory course will cover the four pillars of anthropology: physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and cultural anthropology/ethnology. Central themes of study are concepts of culture, society, pre-state societies (tribes/chiefdoms), state societies (agricultural/industrial), consequences of global industrialism, and the global future of indigenous tribes. The course will explore anthropological perspectives, stress critical-thinking processes, and develop skills to analyze fossil evidence, artifacts, languages, and cultural beliefs/values.

International Relations: The Politics of Genocide and Terrorism

International Relations examines major international issues today such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, globalization and the growth of transnational agencies and economies, the preponderance of failing states because of the spread of ethnic and religious intolerance, and specific conflicts such as those in the Korean Peninsula or the Balkans. American foreign policy, the origins of genocide, Stalin & Mao, the Jewish Holocaust, Cambodia & the Khmer Rouge, Bosnia & Kosovo, and the apocalypse in Rwanda will also be examined in this course. Students will be required to conduct research to prepare for role-plays and debates on current issues.


Sociology introduces students to the theories, concepts, and areas of inquiry that typically characterize sociological analyses, specifically, culture, society, socialization, social interaction, social groups, deviance, race, ethnicity, sex, and gender. We will also focus on the various social institutions (family, marriage, death, etc.) Topics include healthcare, media, popular culture, violence, crime, and punishment. The course will apply a three-stage process; opening discussions that draw on students’ ideas and experiences; lectures/ presentations and readings that present a sociological perspective; and critical discussions that will explore analysis and synthesis of current social trends.

World Politics

World Politics will focus on the current state of political systems around the globe, emphasizing contemporary world powers and their struggle for dominance in political, social, economic, and religious arenas. From bi-polar, tri-polar and hegemonic power struggles to the specific Middle East conflicts in Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, the course will also explore a multitude of conflict resolutions. Students will learn to use effective techniques of discussion, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint. Additionally, students will hone their skills in writing analytical essays, outlining, note taking, debating, and making oral presentations. The course will address the following topics: healthcare, crime and drugs, immigration, defense, global security, weapons proliferation, as well as current international conflicts from the Arab-Israeli Conflict to North Korea, the Arab Spring, and Iran.

Northwood Academic Programs