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The Urban School
of San Francisco
1563 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415 626 2919

2017-18 History Course Descriptions

Urban students must take two years of history for graduation. Freshmen take 20th Century World History 1A and 1B. The US history requirement is fulfilled in the 10th or 11th grade by taking both UAS Making America and UAS Remaking America. All other history classes are electives, which deepen and enrich the student's understanding of particular societies and topics. The University of California system requires two semesters of non-US history in addition to the US history requirement. Many selective colleges expect that students take the equivalent of three years of history; many out-of-state public universities require three years.

Urban Advanced Studies (UAS) history classes tackle complex topics that require a significant level of independent intellectual investigation on the part of the students. The readings are more challenging in both complexity and volume, whether lengthy primary sources or college-level secondary works. Students are expected to read for an argument, as well for the factual information, and make considerable progress in unpacking analysis on their own. Writing assignments prioritize developing original analysis thoroughly supported by evidence, and students are expected to have experience and skill in presenting such arguments. Students should be able to apply themes and ideas to new material, making connections independently in reading, writing and discussion. Expectations around research, when a major component of a course, emphasize independent and original work.

Required Courses
 
20th Century World History (A)
is the first half of our 9th grade history sequence and focuses on Europe in the first part of the 20th century to the early Cold War period. Students study Marx and industrialization, European imperialism, WWI and the Treaty of Versailles, the Russian Revolution, the interwar years and fledgling democracies, the prelude to WWII, the war itself, the Holocaust and the Cold War years. The topics are filtered through the prism of identity formation – that is, how historical events and ideas shape, influence and complicate the identity of individuals, groups and nation states. (1/2 credit) (Freshmen only)
 
20th Century World History (B) is the second half of the 9th grade history sequence, which continues examining the 20th century, enlarging the Western perspective of the first half of the course to study events, themes and trends from a more global perspective. After transitioning from World War II to the Cold War, we turn to our main focus, the era of globalization following the end of the Cold War. Three central questions to shape our efforts: What is globalization? How has it affected people's lives and shaped the way people live? How have people influenced the process of globalization? In attempting to answer these questions, we will look mainly at choices and effects in the economic and cultural realms to see how globalization influences all facets of life. (1/2 credit) (Freshmen only)
 
UAS Making America begins with encounters between Native Americans and Europeans, examining the cultural collaborations and challenges. The course then moves to the economic development of society, particularly through the development of and reliance on slave labor. The politics of the American Revolution and the founding of the nation provide the basis for examining the expansion of the country and the increasing conflict over slavery and states rights. Required to fulfill US history requirement. (1/2 credit) (Sophomores or Juniors)
 
UAS Remaking America challenges students to understand and interpret the evolution of the nation – politically, economically, socially – in the 20th century. Beginning with the Great Depression and the New Deal, the course covers the changing relationship between the federal government and the American public. Students examine the Civil Rights movement and attendant social upheaval in America’s cities, campuses, Indian reservations and households, each of which set the stage for the conservative counter-revolution that crystallized around Ronald Reagan and the rise of the New Right. Students complete an independent research paper in this course. Required to fulfill US history requirement (1/2 credit) (Sophomores or Juniors)
 
Elective Courses

 
African History introduces students to a continent rich in culture, religion, music and art. The students will explore the political, economic, religious and social organizations of the continent, extending from the pre-colonial period to the present. In order to gain a more complete understanding of the continent, the students will study its geography and demographics. This year's emphasis will be on Southern Africa. (1/2 credit) (Sophomores only)

Birth of Modern China
closely examines three distinct periods of Chinese history: End of Imperial China (1842-1911), Republican China (1911-1949) and Chairman Mao's China (1949-1976). In 100 years, China transformed from an isolated and independent empire to an internationally embroiled player on the world stage. Students in this course gain a clear understanding of how 2,000 years of dynastic rule collapsed and the significance of western politics and political philosophy in China during the first half of the 20th century. Students also investigate various attempts to recreate and revise a Chinese identity suitable for and powerful enough to engage the modern world. This course takes special care to utilize primary resource materials such as political speeches, propaganda art, literature and film. (1/2 credit) (Sophomores only)

Contemporary Issues: Research and Writing allows students to focus on skills of inquiry, analysis and expression by producing an individual research paper. All topics will be drawn from stories making the news in the last 10 years. Initial readings (newspapers, newsmagazines, selected essays) serve to introduce students to major issues (domestic or international) of the day and jumpstart their thinking about a possible topic. Class meetings provide time to practice research skills, discuss elements of writing, edit and revise. Though the course is historical in nature, it aims to help students improve their approach to general research and strengthen their analytical writing. (1/2 credit) (Sophomores only)

Revolutionary Europe explores the tumultuous changes that transformed Europe in the late 18th century, starting with the intellectual ferment of the enlightenment and the maturation of capitalism. The transformation of ideas into action during the French Revolution takes many forms: the assertion of new human rights that challenged many flavors of ancient tradition; the mobilization of heretofore “silent” masses; the violent toppling of king and nobility; the massive slave revolution in Haiti; and a truly dramatic struggle by a fascinating cast of characters who seek to forge order out of chaos. Irony and experimentation, great dreams and appalling nightmares are in fine form in this epic of historical change. (1/2 credit) (Sophomores only)

Comparative Religion: Our Search for Meaning
considers the question: what is the meaning of life? We explore some of the answers offered by Native American religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Specifically, we focus on the following topics: creation, the nature of God and man, self-discovery, community, scriptures and rituals. We visit places of worship and invite spokespersons of various faiths to come speak to us. In addition, each student conducts a research project on a particular Bay Area religious community. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors)

Economics:
We begin by developing some basic micro and macro economic literacy.  We will have a better sense of the impact of economic decisions on lives and ambitions. We will understand economics as  fundamental to and derived from politics, jurisprudence, social justice, ecology, moral philosophy, culture, and technology. We will see that economics is a lens with which we examine and understand threads in the fabric of everyday life like college costs, health care, the music industry, gentrification, etc. We will understand economics as a practical philosophy of applied ethics whereby we consider how to best solve the problem of scarcity and environmental care. Thus, we will focus on two contemporary issues affecting local and global communities: income inequality and environmental sustainability.  The last 6 weeks involve primers on income inequality and environmental sustainability culminating in a research project in the student's choice of one of these concerns.  (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

US Foreign Policy in the 20th Century and Beyond
examines the evolution of the nation's role in the world. From young upstart to global police force, the United States underwent a massive transformation in the scope and scale of its participation in international politics in the 20th century. What forces drove the increasingly interventionist policy? What have been the costs and benefits of American involvement in global affairs when it comes to war, humanitarian issues, arms, aid, development and the environment? The course begins with the Spanish-American War in 1898 when the United States commanded more attention as a major participant in international relations. From there, students will examine the shift away from isolation as the nation rose to prominence throughout the 20th century. Students will also explore current and future challenges facing the nation. Prerequisite: US History Sequence (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS America Transformed: 1865-1929
is a thematically (rather than chronologically) organized course, which examines social, cultural and economic changes from the perspective of the "common" man and woman rather than that of the national political leadership. Through the lenses of race, class and gender, students explore the following topics: construction of racial identity and race hierarchies; the rise of big business and the ensuing battles between capital and labor for control of the industrial economy; urbanization; immigration and its impact on American culture; marriage and family; and the development of a consumer-driven, leisure-oriented culture. The ultimate aim of the class is for students to construct rich connections between each of the above topics. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS Asian American History
introduces students to the diverse narratives of Asian diasporic communities in America. The course opens with the first waves of immigration in the mid-19th century to subsequent exclusion laws; the watershed moment of World War II and Japanese American internment; the Civil Rights Movement and the impact of U.S. Imperialism and the Cold War; and end with current issues facing various Asian American communities today. Students will explore themes related to individual and community action, cultural interaction and transformation, as well as othering and belonging in America. We take advantage of San Francisco’s local history with off-site field trips and independent projects to better see the multicultural roots of our city and society. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS Constitutional Law is our study of Civil Liberties and The Bill Of Rights and focuses on a number of issues: freedom of speech, press and assembly; the rights of minors and students; and the rights of the accused. We read cases, visit courts and meet with lawyers. Readings include No Heroes, No Villains by Steven Phillips, The Constitution by Fred Friendly and Martin Elliott, and the original texts of several cases and opinions. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS History of South Asia: Part 1 - Modern South Asia explores a faraway and fascinating place –modern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh – from the mid 18th to the mid 20th centuries. Students are immersed in the culture and meet a range of characters from a rural midwife to a tailor, to key figures like Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Much of the early work is around understanding the setting and culture, and we will debate the early British action to outlaw the ritual killing of widows, read and think about Hinduism, investigate the arrival of Islam, weigh the arguments regarding control of Kashmir. The bulk of the course follows the anti-colonial efforts of the early 20th century as Indians agitate for independence, ending in the tragic Partition of 1947. This is an unusual offering for an American high school and will help you develop tools to study other distant places. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS History of South Asia: Part 2
 - Independent South Asia can act as a sequel to UAS Modern South Asia or stand on its own. As a pair, the two courses constitute a rather unique high school offering and are available to students who want to immerse themselves in a deeper study of this distant place.  Independent South Asia covers the period from 1947 to the present day and will follow three central themes in India and Pakistan: efforts (successful and otherwise) to establish democratic governance, challenges (of religion, language, ethnicity) to unity, and globalization and related environmental challenges. The course will also include an opportunity to do guided independent research on a topic of your choosing. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS Medieval History
introduces students to the rich and complex civilization of medieval Europe. This class begins with a speech and ends with a pamphlet. In 1096 Pope Urban II summoned the nobility of France to engage in a holy war to recapture Jerusalem setting off the first mass movement in European history. In 1517 Martin Luther, an obscure monk in a small German university town nailed 95 theses to a church door calling for a debate. Within three years Luther's call had shaken the Church to its core. New technology the printing press made possible a revolution that no one had foreseen.  In this class we will examine the growth of the Roman Catholic Church's influence and power from the Crusades to Luther.  We will study how a variety of people challenged and questioned that power. We will meet Peter Abelard, a scholar, Francis of Assisi, a monk, Joan of Arc, a French teenage warrior, John Hus, an accused heretic and Martin Luther, a priest who threatened to topple the most powerful institution in Europe. We will read autobiographies, poetry, letters, trial transcripts and inflammatory pamphlets. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only).

UAS Modern Middle East
takes up the stories of three places -Israel/Palestine, Iran and Egypt - as students investigate a number of themes and issues: tyranny and aspirations for democracy, religion and secularism, civil rights and the status of women, western intervention, and nationalism and the nation state. Students gain fluency in the conflict over Israel/Palestine, the 1979 revolution in Iran and subsequent seizing of the American embassy, and the events leading to the Arab Spring in Egypt. Throughout the course, students will be challenged to recognize and wrestle with the preconceptions they bring to the study of this region. Our studies of all three countries begins in the late 1800s but will also include significant reading of contemporary news. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS History of Women in America examines the history of the United States with women’s lives at the center of the story. Rather than present a single, cohesive narrative of women in the United States, the course situates gender identity as inseparable from identities of race, class, legal status, and sexuality. The course traces a number of interrelated themes that emerged from rapid industrialization in the late-19th century and follows them to the present: the changing conditions of women as paid and unpaid workers; relations of power between groups of women; struggles for civil and political rights; repression and expressions of sexuality and gender; and contested spaces in the lived experiences of everyday people. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

Bay Area BlendEd Consortium Courses

(click here for a complete listing of BlendEd Courses for fall and spring semesters)

Beats, Rhymes & Life: an Exploration of Hip-Hop, its History & Global Impact is an examination of this movement of Hip-Hop as counterculture, its place in history and global impact. Students will examine the idea of Hip-Hop as a shadowed art form for muted voices. The contemporary foundations of Hip-Hop, the influence of the African Diaspora, the role of the Slave Trade, of cultural syncretism, the development of Jazz, Spoken Word as an art, and the influence of the Harlem Renaissance will be studied. Various artists will be explored along with their immediate and long-term impacts on the musical genre. Students will also study the uncanny connections between Hip-Hop and WEB Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam, Clarence 13x and the Black Panther Party. Students will also examine the voice of women and gay artists and their role in the culture of Hip-Hop, which often is misconstrued as a male dominated, misogynistic and/or homophobic art form. Students will end the course looking at the Globalization of Hip-Hop and the role of Hip Hop on the international scene as a form of political and youth advocacy in areas where people are voiceless.  (1/2 credit)

#Entrepreneurship Living in the Bay Area we are close to the most important social media companies and through this BlendEd class students will be able to utilize this unique accessibility they have to a cutting edge field.  This course will focus on empowering students to create a unique product or program that is socially beneficial. In addition, students will be equipped with marketing skills and techniques that allow them to engage a fast emerging industry and strategize on ways to create their own online business entities. Students will learn different methods of utilizing social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and their own original website in order to build an online community that will promote the products that they create within the course. There are no prerequisite required for the course. We will begin with our first meeting at a BlendEd school classroom and the subsequent meetings will be field trips to a few of the major social media companies that are located in the Bay Area and will give students that hands on experience of seeing this work in action. (1/2 credit)

Environmental Justice & the Social Determinants of Health The San Francisco Bay Area is rapidly becoming one of the most inequitable places to live in the nation. Taking a casual BART ride can reveal the environmental disparities that exist between places like the affluent suburb of Pleasanton and an industrialized community like West Oakland. The lack of income and environmental equality is obvious, but the disparities run much deeper. A short ride between BART stations can mean an 11-year difference in life expectancy. Folks getting off the train and living in neighborhoods near BART’s Walnut Creek station live on average 84 years, while folks that exit at and live near the Oakland City Center station live on average only 73 years. In other words, living just 16 miles apart can mean the difference between living more than a decade longer. Why does such a health disparity exist? This course will dissect the factors that influence this social gradient of health. During our face-to-face sessions we will go on a toxic tour of a Bay Area neighborhood, meet with environmental and social justice advocates, participate in habitat restoration activities, and create media to educate the general public about social and environmental inequities. (1/2 credit)


Courses Offered in Alternate Years
 
Civics & Elections
is an introduction to presidential electoral politics, beginning with some background on the electoral process. To strengthen research skills, students study a core issue, working in a small team to build an understanding of the key facets. To strengthen writing skills, students work to present their findings in clear, compelling ways to the larger school community. Students gain an understanding of basic campaign strategy and opposing political ideologies in addition to the central issues and candidates. Students will develop a better sense of their own political leanings and explore ways they might influence our democracy by connecting and working together with other communities to analyze available data and share information. (1/2 credit) (Sophomores only)

Elections 
is an intensive introduction to electoral politics, beginning with some background on the electoral process. The course will center on the presidential election while also allowing room to study state and local elections. Students study a core issue in substantial depth, working in a small team to research, read and write about the key facets. Students also will build their own readers using a range of suggested sources, including multimedia and other digital resources. In addition, students will have the opportunity to witness different aspects of the campaign and election process firsthand, with possibilities including working the polls, visiting campaign offices, and participating in voter registration efforts. Students gain an understanding of basic campaign strategy and opposing political ideologies in addition to the central issues and candidates. Students will develop a better sense of their own political leanings and explore ways they might influence our democracy by connecting and working together with other communities to analyze available data and share information. Prerequisite: US History sequence. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS Contemporary China
takes up the continuing debate over the extent of China's power in the world. Contemporary China seeks to understand the role played by the most populous country on earth. Specifically, the course takes an in-depth look at China since the Revolution of 1949. We begin the course with the reign of Mao Tse-Tung and the impact of his efforts to modernize the Chinese State. Students investigate the Cultural Revolution and its various impacts in China and beyond. A significant portion of the course looks at life after Mao and critiques Deng Xiaopeng's decisions to "open" China to the west. The course continues with a close look at China's rapid industrial development and the ensuing environmental challenges this presented. Finally, students engage China's struggles with human rights and evaluate China's role in the global community. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS Environmental History
 
examines the settlement of North America and the expansion of the United States through the lens of the interactions between people and the land. Moving forward in chronology and as we sweep east to west across North America, students will examine the relations between Indians and settlers, the motivations behind westward expansion and the rise of industrialization. Students are encouraged to consider questions of land and resource use and the role of the market economy as they arise from an ethical perspective, as well as an historical one. Readings include Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee, Changes in the Land by William Cronon, and writings by Wendell Berry, Edward Abbey and Aldo Leopold. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)

UAS Colonial Origins
explores both the Colonial Period (1607-1765) and the American Revolution (1765-1788). Major themes in the Colonial Period include the origins and evolution of American Protestantism, the origins of European contact and relations with Native American tribes/nations and the transformation of both cultures in the course of contact; the origins of slavery and racism; the origins of an African-American culture; and the origins and evolution of a uniquely American culture in the colonial period. The American Revolution will cover the origins of the protest, the course of the War for Independence, and the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Readings will consist of an abundant and rich set of primary and secondary sources. (1/2 credit) (Juniors and Seniors only)




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UAS - URBAN ADVANCED STUDIES
The Urban School curriculum provides an exceptionally strong foundation in college preparatory subjects. Many of our classes have distinctive features that set them apart as particularly challenging and comparable to college level work. These classes, designated as UAS (Urban Advanced Studies), are developed by the Urban faculty and comprise the school's most rigorous coursework. UAS classes are offered in every subject area and most are recognized by colleges (including the University of California) as honors level courses. Many Urban students choose to take Advanced Placement subject exams after taking these courses.

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