Teaching Responsible Global Citizens

Culver students explore ethical, imaginative and historical perspectives through the Humanities program. They are challenged to grasp the intricacies of cultures past and present, and explore their place in a complex global world.

Humanities Instruction

Humanities at Culver stress reading, writing, speaking and researching skills at all levels. Students learn the power of texts and ideas, and how these both support and challenge cultural norms.

  • Courses include Western Perspectives, Global Perspectives and American Studies, as well as Advanced Placement courses and electives.
  • Grade level-specific curricula blend English and history instruction with political and philosophical discourse, religious studies and visual expression.
  • The Harkness learning approach helps students develop lifelong skills that transcend the curriculum. 
  • Coursework integrates history, literature and art; emphasizes clear and effective communication; and requires strong rhetorical skills and complex language analysis.

The Journey

The Past Influencing the Present

Humanities at Culver is a form of time travel - a four year journey introducing students to our civilized life and engaging them as responsible citizens in a global and increasingly complex world. Understanding “the human experience” will provide context as students are someday called to act as a productive citizen of the world.

The milestones below offer a brief look at how students explore interlocking narratives through a central text and context.  Students investigate the natural, social, political, economic, cultural, and technological aspects of that society.

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.


Taking students on a journey beginning in Greece during the Heroic Age and ending around the renaissances of the West, 9th grade Humanities encourages students to think across disciplines by encouraging reading, writing, thinking, and discussion about topics from art, history, and literature.

Examples of texts studied include Homer's Odyssey, Sophocles' Antigone, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Chaucer’s The Clerk’s Tale, and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.


What does it mean to be a “good” global citizen? 10th grade Humanities students learn to think critically about progress, culture, commerce, and myriad of other concepts as they pertain to the wider world. Global Perspectives focuses on the modern world beginning in the early 17th century and progresses through European imperialism and the world wars.

Students learn and understand that living in the modern world is to live globally and that everything is more complex because of it.


America is a melting pot of cultures, dreams, and ideas. But, how did it get that way? Students explore how Americans interacted with each other to form the culture we now live in. From Native American traditions through the Civil Rights Movements and the 20th century society, American Studies encourages imagination, creativity, the joy of reading and learning, and the appreciation of a variety of perspectives and the exchange of ideas.


During their final year at Culver, seniors choose a course from one of three categories: Text and Context, Writing Workshop, and Citizenship. These courses are designed to engage students with the moral and complex challenges of the world in such a way that they can become discerning and responsible citizens.

The electives system is designed to prepare students for the choices available in college and allows them to acquire ownership and take responsibility for their education.

Harkness Learning

Student Led Learning

For decades, schools have been modeled after the instructor-led classroom where students are fed information and asked to repeat it for test and essays. Harkness flips that model and allows the students to be the primary actor, encouraging proactive and dynamic learning.

They must search for the ideas and information and then wrestle with that which they find. Students who engage themselves with the Harkness class will finish with a sense of autonomy and empowerment, knowing how to learn.



The Harkeness method was first developed in 1930 in Exeter, N.H. It was an attempt to move away from the traditional teaching model of content retention and toward a more holistic learning approach that helps students experience the content instead of memorizing it.

Harknessing was introduced to Culver in 1996 and quickly became a staple for Humanities instructors. It allows students to build lifelong skills that transcend the curriculum.  


The Assignment

A student could be asked to read a chapter on Italian nationalism in the 1830s, examine one chapter from Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, and also interpret poems by Rupert Brooke and Jessie Pope.

The Discussion

Seated around a large, oval table, Culver students come prepared to engage each other with comments, questions, and textual citations from the assignment. 

Ideally, the Harkness process involves students to a greater degree than they are accustomed.