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The Social Studies Department develops students who are capable of critical thinking, informed civic participation, and who cherish independence of thought; indeed, we believe these abilities are the foundation of responsible global citizenship.
By engaging students in a spiraling curriculum of carefully designed core and elective courses from freshman to senior year, we focus on the mastery of core educational skills that promote 21st century learning through the study of key historical content. Core skills include the critical analysis of a variety of texts for bias, quality of evidence, and quality of argumentation; effective written and oral communication; effective note taking; collaboration with peers and adults; and facility with ever-evolving educational technology.
In the standard sequence, students are required to take Freshman Foundations/Hawaiian History in ninth grade, AP Human Geography or Modern World History in tenth grade, and AP U.S. History or U.S. History in eleventh grade. Beginning in eleventh grade, students also may enroll in a number of elective courses, including AP Comparative Government, AP Psychology, Current World Issues, Economics, Psychology, and World Religions.
We believe that students who possess an appreciation of history’s complexity and the ability to participate in civil discourse will be the leaders who emerge to help fashion solutions to the great challenges of our day and tomorrow.
- Freshman Foundations/Hawaiian History
- Modern World History
- AP Human Geography
- United States History
- AP United States History
- AP Comparative Government and Politics
- AP Psychology
- Civics and the American System
- Economics Honors: Human Behavior, Social Justice, and the Science of Decision-Making
- Environmental Stewardship: Learn, Reflect, Serve
- Global Issues
- History Through Mixed Media
- Historical Cultural Literacy
- Hawaiian History and Culture
- Migrations of Moananuiākea (Oceania): Traditional Navigation and Modern-day Voyaging in Hawai'i
- Social Entrepreneurship
- World Religions
Modern World History challenges students to think critically about the people and events that have shaped the world in which we live. This course is organized thematically rather than chronologically, and we study many different times and places in order to understand patterns and turning points in the history of the world. Students develop an understanding of current world issues and relate them to their historical, geographic, political, economic, and cultural contexts. Students also increase their map identification skills and their knowledge of the geography of the world. Effective writing skills and cooperative group work are emphasized throughout the year, along with whole class discussion, small group discussion, role play activities, presentations, debates, and project work. Research, close reading, and presentation skills are developed as each student engages in historical research on a topic of their choosing, creating a project that will be entered in the National History Day competition
AP Human Geography is the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of the Earth’s surface. Students employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human social organization, cultural diffusion and development, as well as the environmental consequences of such processes. Students explore questions, such as: What opportunities or challenges draw populations from one point in the world to another, resulting in increased immigration rates, over-population or de-population? How do forces like urbanization and industrialization shape culture and vice versa? Students are assigned nightly readings requiring the use of note taking strategies and the completion of PowerSchool-based quizzes. Students are encouraged to use their devices in class for research and collaboration. Throughout the course students explore global perspectives and connections, which culminate in the creation and delivery of a TED Talk style presentation. All students will take the College Board AP Human Geography exam in May. Students must earn an A- or higher in every quarter of Freshman Foundations and receive a recommendation from their Freshman Foundations instructor to enroll in AP Human Geography.
United States History is a chronologically organized survey course that examines our nation’s past from English settlement to the Watergate crisis. The thrust of this course is on students enhancing their ability to think and write critically about historical events. Using a variety of resources to complement the text, class time will be devoted to determining the significance of historical events and their relation to the period rather than thrashing out specific details. Political, economic, and social influences will be considered for each event or period under consideration. Debates, group work, and class discussions will further augment text readings. Students can anticipate 45 to 60 minutes of homework for each class period. Assignments will be posted on PowerSchool. Analytical writing will be heavily emphasized throughout the year.
AP United States History is a chronological and thematic survey course in United States History. The class is designed to provide students with analytical skills along with factual knowledge to deal critically with the problems and issues in United States History. Key themes will include: American identity, civil rights, demographic and economic transformations, the environment, globalization, international and domestic conflicts, politics and citizenship, religion and more. Students are required to: take the College Board AP exam, maintain the rigorous reading schedule, and regularly and actively participate in class discussion/debates. Prerequisites are the successful completion of AP Human Geography or World History and teacher recommendation.
AP Comparative Government & Politics uses a comparative approach to examine the following six selected countries: Great Britain, Mexico, Russia, Iran, China, and Nigeria. Topics will include: sovereignty, authority, power, political institutions, citizens, society, states, political and economic change, and public policy. Students will have regular readings and class debates on a variety of topics impacting contemporary global politics. Besides the textbook the course will draw extensively from the weekly periodical “The Economist.” All students will take the College Board AP Comparative Government & Politics exam in May. Prerequisites are the successful completion or dual enrollment in AP US History with teacher approval.
AP Psychology introduces students to the scientific study of the mental processes and behavior of human beings. By understanding how humans think, feel, and act, students gain greater insight into themselves and others. The course highlights significant contributions to the field of psychology over the past century and explores psychologists' differing perspectives. Students should expect up to 90 minutes of homework prior to each class; reading is emphasized and chapter tests are an important component of student assessment. Assigned projects focus on skill development. The rigorous curriculum and pace will culminate with the College Board AP exam in May. Juniors and seniors entering the course should be competent readers (12+ grade level) with excellent study skills. Students must be recommended by a faculty member in the Social Studies department.
Civics and the American System is a study of three fundamental parts of the American system: the government, the economy, and legal systems. The objective of this course is to lay the framework for informed citizenship in a democratic society, including voting, participating in community activities and assuming the responsibilities of citizenship. We will learn the foundation and purpose of the parts of the government and economy. We will explore questions such as “What would the world be like without government?”, “What makes some governments effective and others ineffective? ”, “What are the responsibilities of living in a representative democracy?” & “How does our government work on the Federal, State and Local level?”. These questions and many others will be discussed in the context of historical, economic and current events.
This course will introduce students to principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics and how they intersect with issues of social justice. Students will also learn about behavioral economics and the science of decision-making, consider how practical life skills scale up to national and global economics and contemplate the implications of opportunity cost in a variety of contexts. To bridge theoretical understanding with application, students will work through hands-on activities, conduct experiments and complete projects in addition to readings and lecture. The prerequisite for this course is the completion of AP Human Geography or World History and teacher recommendation. This course is open to juniors and seniors.
Environmental Stewardship: Learn, Reflect, Serve offers students place-based learning opportunities to engage in environmental stewardship and service. Utilizing the upper campus Terrace farm and partnering with conservation organizations around Hawaii island, students will explore nature and our relationship with the natural world through the lenses of regenerative agriculture, contemplation, and service. As students begin the year developing their understanding of ecological principles and their real world applications, they will also be introduced to a variety of contemplative practices aimed at deepening their connection with the natural world. This process of hands on learning coupled with self-reflection will be the foundation upon which students build their vision for how they can serve as leaders in the field of environmental conservation and restoration. Using a project-based, interdisciplinary approach, this course is a study of the global and local issues that shape our collective society and call us to action as individuals.
Global Issues will explore some of the most important global issues facing us today. Although they are interconnected, we’ll look at issues in these four categories: Quarter 1) food, water and energy; Quarter 2) environment, Quarter 3) quality of life, and Quarter 4) economic development, governance and peace. Students will complete an inquiry based project each quarter. Additionally, we will read articles and books, view documentaries, and listen to talks. We will discuss, debate, research, write, present, and most of all, think critically about the issues from multiple perspectives. This course is open to juniors and seniors.
History Through Mixed Medias will explore reality versus perception in a historical context, which is extremely relevant in today’s world of social media and “fake news” influences. We will begin by examining various historical events via various mediums, i.e. comparing and contrasting the event’s portrayal in primary sources, books, film, art, video games and social media. We will examine how and why a given medium affects the event’s perception the way it does. Also we will address how history is crafted and recorded. The concluding project for the course will be a student selected research project and new depiction/ representation of that event.
Historical Cultural Literacy will examine the relationship between History and Literature. Does History mimic Literature (1984) or does Literature mimic History (Gulliver’s Travels)? The course will examine well known works of fiction and non-fiction, looking for parallels between current historical events (Animal Farm) and proposed changes to society (The Communist Manifesto or Mein Kampf). Students will research, analyze, discuss, and debate topics and ideas, maintaining a journal of what they have learned during the course.
Hawaiian History and Culture will begin the year by learning the basic language pronunciation and geography of Hawaiʻi. Emphasis will then be placed on creationism, the four main gods of Hawaiʻi, and their roles in structuring the traditional religious customs of society. Traditional chants will also be learned as a way to support cultural learning. The focus will then shift to look into the legal and political history of Hawaiʻi and how it translates to current times. Great focus will be placed on the monarchs of Hawaiʻi, and the influence each has had on governance. Students will also look into the events that led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian government, and how it altered Hawaiiʻs presence on an international stage.
Migrations of Moananuiākea (Oceania): Traditional Navigation and Modern-day Voyaging in Hawaiʻi will introduce students to the ancient migrations of Moananuiākea (Oceania), traditional navigation and modern day voyaging and canoe sailing in Hawaiʻi. Students will study an array of orature and literature; island geography; history of voyaging; canoe design, building, and rigging techniques; weather, astronomy and its application to navigation and sail planning. The concluding capstone project for the course will by guided by the themes of the class. This capstone class is open to juniors and seniors.
Social Entrepreneurship is an opportunity for students to pursue a project of their choosing outside the boundaries of our standard English, Art, or Social Studies curriculum. In this course students will propose, research, implement, deliver, and iterate a product over the course of the semester, using project management tools and techniques from the professional world to guide their work and structure their time. Some previous examples of student projects are a digital platform that showcases student work, a business and app that delivers food to boarders, fundraising and building a track for Kohala High School, and creating content and a brand centered on environmentalism. Guest mentors from across creative industries will share their experiences in their fields and workshop students’ products throughout the semester/year. Students who wish to continue their project for the entire year may enroll in Social Entrepreneurship for both the fall and spring semester. In that case, they will follow a similar schedule of deliverables and presentations for the second semester. “Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society's most pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges.” - Ashoka Organization
(Students may enroll in this course as a single semesters [Spring or Fall] or may enroll in both semesters to participate for the entire year.)
World Religions will introduce students to the basic foundations of world religions. Students will explore the belief systems of the major world religions and understand how these belief systems impact human behavior, politics and ultimately world peace. Principal skills include fluency in reading, writing, speaking, creative and critical thinking, discussing and presenting ideas from the text that are abstract in nature. Students will be asked to complete weekly homework assignments that will be turned in on PowerSchool. Students will also be given five formal tests throughout this semester course. As part of their coursework, students will develop a project related to an area of world religion they are interested in. A formal oral presentation will be required. The prerequisite for this course is World History or AP Human Geography. This course is only open to juniors and seniors.