Social Studies

The Social Studies Department provides an integrated study of the social sciences to promote civic competence. Citizen participation in public life is essential to the health of our democratic system. To accomplish this goal Ursuline’s social studies program helps prepare young people who can identify, understand, and work to solve the problems that face our increasingly diverse nation and interdependent world. Because Ursuline High School is a Catholic school, theses subjects are rooted in the values of justice, love, community, and faith as expressed in Catholic social teaching. Through instruction in the social sciences, students will gain a greater awareness of the global community, an understanding of past events and decisions, and the impact of individual and collective choices on the lives of other human beings and nations. Hopefully, Christian awareness will lead to a deeper sensitivity toward, respect for, and understanding of the human community and the challenges inherent in creating a just world.

All students at Ursuline are required to earn three credits in social studies prior to graduation. The following is the normal sequence at each grade level: sophomores are required to take American History I & II; juniors are required to take American Government and one elective and seniors are required to take one credit of electives.  All students take World History at some point during their Ursuline experience.  There is no required social studies course for freshmen, though many complete their World History requirement during the ninth grade year. Advanced Placement courses are offered in American History, American Government and Psychology.  Additional Advanced Placement opportunities are available online in World History, Microeconomics, and Macroeconomics.


Course Descriptions


GRADES 9-12 REQUIRED 1/2 credit

World History is a survey course in which students will trace the development of western civilization from ancient cultures to the Renaissance. The course will allow students to view past events in light of historical perspective, geography, economics, culture, and society. Students will discuss cause-effect relationships, events, issues, concepts and cultures.



GRADES 11- 12 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

World History II is a survey course in which students will trace the development of western civilization from the Enlightenment to World War I. The course will allow students to view past events in light of historical perspective, geography, economics, culture, and society. Students will discuss cause-effect relationships, events, issues, concepts and cultures.



GRADES 9-10 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

Geography is an introductory study of world geography. Students will study the relationship between people and their natural environment. The course will develop a basic understanding of the principles of physical, economic, and cultural geography and apply that knowledge to their study of countries throughout the world.



GRADE 10 REQUIRED 1/2 credit

This is a semester survey course beginning with the Progressive Era and concluding with the events of World War II. The course will provide a context for exploring the major political, social, and economic issues of the time and America’s relationship to other nations and cultures.



GRADE 10 REQUIRED 1/2 credit

This survey course deals with Post World War II America. The course will require students to critically examine the dynamic changes (political, social, economic, technological) that transformed the United States into a post-industrial, information driven society characterized by great cultural diversity.



GRADES 11-12 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

This elective course is an introduction to the American legal system. Topics will include the origins of law, the court system, criminal law and juvenile justice, liability and torts, consumer and housing law, family law, and individual rights and liberties.



GRADE 11 REQUIRED 1/2 credit

The course will focus on the foundations of American government, political behavior in the United States, and the function of the Executive and Legislative branches of government. Students will also explore how they can become actively involved in the American political system. The course will include an introduction to basic economic theory and terminology, an overview of the geography of the American continent, and an analysis of how capitalism functions in America.  The course also covers financial literacy, including credit, savings, investments, and budgeting. PREREQUISITE: AMERICAN HISTORY I and II


GRADE 11 ELECTIVE 1 credit

The course is recommended for those students who have both the aptitude and interest in exploring politics and government from a critical perspective. The course will include the study of general concepts used to interpret politics in the United States and the analysis of specific case studies, institutions, groups, beliefs, and philosophies that make up the reality of American politics. Students will explore the Constitution, political beliefs represented by political parties, special interest groups, the institutions of government, public policy, and civil liberties. Students will be prepared to take the AP U.S. Government exam by which they may obtain college level credit if they achieve a passing score on the exam. Prerequisite: “A” average in American History I and II and a “B” average in Honors American Literature or an “A” average in American Literature.



GRADES 12 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

This semester course introduces students to basic macroeconomic and microeconomic theories. Topics include supply and demand, scarcity, the American economic system, prices, competition, the Federal Reserve, the money supply, employment, poverty, business cycles, and taxation. The students will apply economic principles through several hands-on projects. PREREQUISITE: AMERICAN HISTORY I and II AND AMERICAN GOVERNMENT



GRADE 12 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

The psychology course provides students the opportunity to explore human behavior. Students will gain a better understanding of themselves and others by exploring personality theory, consciousness, altered states of consciousness (sleep, dreams, meditation, hypnosis, and drug reactions), learning theory, intelligence, memory, sensation and perception, stress, social psychology, and psychological disorders. Significant and regular participation is required during class discussions, experiments, and simulated activities.



GRADES 11-12 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

Sociology examines why people think and behave as they do in relationships, groups, institutions, and societies.  Major course topics include individual and group identity, social structures and institutions, social change, social stratification, social dynamics in recent and current events, the effects of social change on individuals, and the research methods used by social scientists.



GRADE 11 – 12 ELECTIVE 1 credit

AP Psychology introduced students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings. Students are exposed to the basic assumptions, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major theories of human psychology. Students also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their scientific research and practice. Major topics covered are History and Approaches, Research and Methods, Biological Bases of Behavior, Sensation and Perception, States of Consciousness, Learning, Cognition, Motivation and Emotion, Developmental Psychology, Personality Theory, Abnormal Psychology and Treatment and Psychological Testing. Students are expected to take the Advanced Placement exam in May. Prerequisite: “A” in current English and Social Studies Courses.


GRADE 11-12 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

This semester course prepares students to take the Advanced Placement exam in United States History. It will build on the factual knowledge students have obtained from their study of American History I and II and will provide students with the analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in United States history. Students will learn to assess historical materials and to weigh the evidence and interpretations presented in historical scholarship. The course will specifically examine the major political, social, and economic changes throughout American history. Prerequisite: “A” in American History I and II


AP Macroeconomics

Online/Independent Study Course

GRADES 11- 12 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

Macroeconomics is the study of how economic systems work as a whole. In this one-semester course, students learn how the economy is measured by indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP), among others. They examine concepts such as inflation, unemployment, world trade patterns, and the role of the Federal Reserve Bank. Students engage in decision making to create an environment in which high employment rates and higher living standards can be achieved by using fiscal and monetary policy. Topics presented in the course include measuring economic performance; aggregate demand and aggregate supply; money, monetary policy and economic stability; monetary and fiscal policy; and international economics. This course prepares students for the AP Macroeconomics exam.  There is an extra fee for this course.


AP Microeconomics

Online/Independent Study Course

GRADES 11- 12 ELECTIVE 1/2 credit

Microeconomics is the study of economics on the level of individual areas of activity and how individuals make choices with limited resources. In AP Microeconomics, students examine concepts such as supply and demand, factors of production, roles of labor and management, the relationship between the environment and the economy, and the effect of government on individual decision making. Students study the stock market as an investment option and trace various stocks throughout the semester, using the Wall Street Journal and the Internet as resources. Topics presented include the nature and functions of product markets, theory of the firm, factor markets, and role of government. This course prepares students for the AP Microeconomics exam. There is an extra fee for this course.


AP World History

Online/Independent Study Course

GRADE 12 ELECTIVE 1 credit
This course spans the Neolithic age to the present in a rigorous academic format organized by chronological periods and viewed through fundamental concepts and course themes. Students analyze the causes and processes of continuity and change across historical periods. Themes include human-environment interaction, cultures, expansion and conflict, political and social structures, and economic systems. In addition to mastering historical content, students cultivate historical thinking skills that involve crafting arguments based on evidence, identifying causation, comparing and supplying context for events and phenomenon, and developing historical interpretation.  There is an extra fee for this course.