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Upper School History

At Seven Hills, students do the work of real historians, reconstructing the past through a deep investigation of primary and secondary sources.

Linking the Modern and Historical

The Upper School history curriculum is designed to offer students an understanding of the historical context of the complex, globalized world they live in. With an emphasis on analyzing sources, critical thinking, and writing, these classes not only give students the tools they need to be engaged, informed citizens; they also equip them with the skills to navigate and evaluate the mass of information and opinions they are exposed to. Through hands-on experiences that put them in the shoes of people from different cultures and eras, students come to understand the human experience as it has been lived in a multitude of places, times, and contexts.


In ninth grade, students survey major world civilizations from the dawn of human existence to the 14th century, focusing on the development of world religions, economic networks, social systems, and political structures in the ancient and medieval worlds.

In this course, students may:

  • Hone critical literacy skills
  • Learn and practice the historical skills of understanding causation and connections between different civilizations

Students continue their journey through time, exploring the history of civilizations from the medieval to the modern era with a European focus on the 16th through 18th centuries. Using global points of view, they examine political, economic, social, and intellectual developments through the 21st century. A highlight of the year is the Tournament of Greatness, where students take on the identities of historical leaders and debate their relative “greatness.”

This course covers the birth of early modernity in 15th-century Europe, the beginnings of the modern state system, and the subsequent European exploration overseas, giving birth to capitalism and the process of globalization. Focusing on the significant question of why events transpired the way they did, students learn to strike a balance between assimilating facts and making their own interpretation and analysis, reaching for a higher standard of meaning and understanding.

In 11th grade, students shift their focus from understanding the broader world to understanding the United States’ particular place in it. In this course, they gain a firm understanding of how America has defined and fulfilled its core values over time, paying close attention to the ideas and structure of government.

This eleventh-grade course builds upon the critical thinking and writing skills students learn in 10th grade to support their deep study of United States history.

In this course, students may:

  • Master important facts and events of American history and place them in proper historical context, and assess how they contributed to the American experience
  • Work in small groups to discuss, simulate, and role-play certain historical events

Open to seniors with departmental approval, this college-level course examines the history of the world since the second world war.

In this course, students may:

  • Study major developments in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America with an eye toward understanding international relations in today’s world
  • Examine major themes in recent world history, including terrorism, globalization, and gender relations
  • Read a variety of texts, write analytical essays, and participate in roundtable discussions

Students in this course discuss timely topics such as supply and demand, markets, taxation, gross domestic product, the stock market, and monetary and fiscal policy, as well as the fundamental concept of economics and how these apply to both individuals and the larger society. They also explore the role of competition, market forces, and the governing distribution of income.

Students in this course use the lenses of race, gender, religion, and socioeconomics to examine economic policies, increasing political divisions, the recent growth of technology, and changing demographics in American history. The class will also address the tumult of the 1960s, the resurgence of the Republican Party in the 1980s, American military involvement in the Middle East, the events of 9/11, and the growing role of social media.

This course is designed to be an interdisciplinary investigation into crucial environmental issues, combining the study of science, history, and culture. It is designed to be as hands-on and exploratory as possible, with a number of projects and field trips into the community.

In this course, students may:

  • Learn about how people think about the environment and have interacted with it throughout history
  • Learn how science informs the ways in which we interact with the environment
  • Learn the major environmental issues facing society today

This course invites students to examine the key concepts related to investigating the material remains of human civilizations. Through introductory readings, in-depth case studies, a simulated excavation, field trips, and discussions with guest lecturers, students critically examine the major facets of the field of archaeology and evaluate its significance in our 21st century world.