Global Perspectives: Renaissance to Modern: An interdisciplinary course focusing on the modern world beginning with the early 17th century. Students study the literature, philosophy, history and arts of Europe and non-western cultures from Asia, Africa and the middle-east. Early in the course, emphasis is placed on the northern Renaissance, early colonization and trade, the Reformation, the scientific and industrial revolutions, Romanticism, and the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. Students later focus on European imperialism and its far-reaching effects, the changing role of women and work, and the evolution of the concept of human rights. The course concludes with units on the world wars and their aftermath, including the shaping of the modern Middle East. Course content, which also involves a significant current events component, is presented through the overall course theme of globalization, which really began as soon as humans decided to undertake journeys in search of better lives. The principal question that our course seeks to answer is ‘what does it mean to be a good global citizen?’ Students explore and learn to think critically about topics such as progress, culture, commerce, domination, nationalism, war and conflict, the possibilities for peace and the intersection of the individual and the wider world. We want our students to appreciate how the past created and continues to influence the present, and that each culture has its own perspective of historical events and their consequences. We seek to have our students understand that living in the modern world is to live globally, and that that everything - from their choices as consumers, to their obligations to distant others, to their opportunities as future professionals - will be more complex because of the flattening of the world.
Building on the methodologies of the 9th grade humanities program, sophomore instructors continue to develop the reading, writing, thinking and speaking skills of our students. Sophomore classrooms are student-centered environments which encourage the development of the whole student. Harkness discussions, Socratic dialog and group work foster empathetic critical thinkers who are able to conceive and support their own ideas and arguments and see the validity of the arguments and perspectives of others. Students write daily “low-stakes” often informal responses such as journal entries to develop and clarify their ideas and begin the writing process. Students proceed to “higher-stakes” formal writing which is revised and edited by peers and their instructor. Speaking skills are promoted through the regular use of formal and informal discussions, student presentations, and polished multimedia projects that require mastery of rhetoric. Through reading a variety of texts students learn to read critically and learn to read for enjoyment and deep understanding.