The College Prep history program engages students through an integrated approach that emphasizes interconnections between different regions of the world.
A three-year required sequence of courses—Asian Worlds, The Atlantic World, and The U.S. and the World—is designed to deepen students’ understanding of history, strengthen their sophistication of thinking, and build the skills of writing, group work, public speaking, and independent research.

The department also offers a variety of optional electives for juniors and seniors. Through these courses, students learn how historians and social scientists use evidence, construct arguments, relate their findings to the work of other scholars, and examine differing historical and theoretical viewpoints. Students have opportunities to become scholars, reconstructing events and constructing their own historical arguments.

List of 3 items.

  • Asian Worlds (9th grade)

    Nearly half of the human population lives in the rapidly growing nations of Asia, shifting the world’s economic and political center of gravity eastward. Asian Worlds provides a thorough understanding of the historical forces that have shaped, and are continuing to shape, the major powers of Asia. The course explores the philosophical, religious, and political movements that have profoundly influenced the evolution of cultural identity in China and South Asia. Students learn how trade, diplomacy, and war facilitated the rapid spread of ideas from the steppes of Central Asia to the shores of Japan. The course follows the arc of Asian history from the emergence of the first great empires up to
    the 21st century, culminating in the exploration of important contemporary topics like globalization, environmental degradation, women’s rights, economic development, and political protest. Students read primary sources, monographs, and scholarly articles while honing their analytical skills and growing as writers, thinkers, and collaborators.
  • The Atlantic Worlds (10th grade)

    This course focuses on the traditions, ideas, and interactions among the peoples of Africa, Europe, and the Americas from the 15th to the 19th centuries, a period of history that has fundamentally shaped our modern world. This broad geographic scope across a relatively restricted time period encourages students to make connections among histories that at first may seem isolated from one another. This transnational approach deepens students’ understanding of exploration and colonialism, the role of the environment in shaping history, the costs and the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade, the influences of religion and belief systems, and the interplay of Atlantic revolutions. Students participate in group collaboration, independent research, persuasive writing, public speaking, and advanced reading comprehension across centuries of writing styles. The capstone project for the year is an independent research essay in which students design, research, write, and revise a robust paper that allows them to delve into a course topic of their own choosing.
  • The U.S. and the World (11th grade)

    What is the United States of America? How do Americans define themselves, their nation, and its position on the global stage? How have those definitions changed over time? This final required course in the College Prep history sequence constructs a narrative of the American experiment, focusing on the 20th century and emphasizing issues of race, immigration, and constitutionalism. The United States is explored through a wide range of primary sources, essays by noteworthy historians, biographical sketches of pivotal figures, simulations of key events, and debates over controversial issues. Some students might find themselves challenging the mythical origin stories of American creation by emphasizing histories that have long been marginalized, while others might create a documentary that highlights the Progressive response to immigration in the early 20th century, or write a research paper that links the fears of the Cold War to the hopes of the Civil Rights Movement. In this course, students do not receive a narrative of U.S. History, they build one.

the history program

History Electives

List of 7 items.

  • Archaeology

    Archaeology is the study of the human past through the analysis of material remains. Archaeologists use a wide array of fieldwork, scientific techniques, critical reasoning, and theoretical perspectives in their effort to understand the deep past of human history and to shed new light on more recent periods. Students plunge into the discipline by examining five major case studies: human origins in East Africa, prehistoric cave art of central Europe, the Neolithic revolution at the site of Stonehenge, the growth of the empire in the Andes, and the emerging importance of Native-American perspectives in California. Topics are explored through class discussion, readings, projects, writing assignments, and off-campus field trips.
  • U.S. Constitutional Law

    This course is an introduction to American constitutional law in historical and modern context. From a framework of individual rights and civil liberties, topics are explored such as the rights of the accused, abortion, free speech, immigration, and the war on terror. Other themes include the allocation of decision-making authority among government institutions, including the distribution of power across the branches of the federal government and between the federal and state governments, focusing primarily on constitutional text and historic Supreme Court decisions. The course culminates with a written and oral advocacy component in the form of a moot court case. Using materials adapted from an appellate lawsuit, students research and write an appellate brief and argue their case before a panel of practicing Bay Area attorneys.
  • Economics

    Economics is an inescapable part of our everyday lives. Will a rise in oil prices affect your plans for a cross-country road trip this summer? Will a recession dampen your chances of getting a good job after  college? This course offers a basic overview of both microeconomics and macroeconomics. Microeconomics topics include prices, taxation, and market structures. The macroeconomics units consider large-scale economic phenomena, like unemployment, inflation, and international trade. The course concludes with a deep dive into the two major economic shocks of the 21st century, the Great Recession and the COVID-19 crisis.
  • American Gender History

    How do experiences of gender differ across cultural, racial, and class lines? Starting with the Industrial Revolution and the plantation South, this course uncovers the history of American conceptions of gender. Returning to familiar events like Reconstruction, WWII, and the Civil Rights Movement, students learn how gender norms and labels have been defined, challenged, and redefined. The course examines how an individual American’s gender—always inflected by race, class, and sexuality—has shaped their access to power, and how people have responded to that reality.
  • Modern Middle Eastern History

    This course examines the contemporary history of the Middle East, beginning with the fall of the Ottoman Empire and continuing through European colonization, decolonization, the Cold War, and contemporary developments up to the Arab Uprisings. The focus is largely on ideological movements, including nation-state nationalisms, Arab nationalism, Islamist politics, and various leftist ideologies. Students grapple with the political nature of the region’s written history and try to make sense of contradictory historical narratives. The class engages in simulations, such as trying to redraw the post WWI borders of the Middle East, negotiating oil concessions, and reworking the Oslo Accords.
  • Linguistics

    Language is, as far as we know, unique to the human species. It builds our societies, defines our consciousness, identifies our culture, and even influences our perceptions of reality. We learn its complexities at an age when we cannot add single digits or tie our own shoes. How does language work? How do individual languages relate to each other and evolve through time? How do linguists analyze languages? How does all of this aid with the study of individual languages? Specific course topics include language, the brain, and consciousness; the production and perception of sounds around the world; words, sentences, and grammar; semantics, idioms, poetry, and humor; language evolution and relationships; and the politics of language. Can dolphins talk? Why is English so weird? And why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways? Students in this course learn to make sounds from clicks to whistles; invent their own rule-governed language; read hieroglyphics, cuneiform, or Mayan; report on languages few have ever heard (or heard of); and watch an episode of Star Trek for credit.
  • Applied Studies: Social Transformations—Oakland (STOak)

    STOak begins in the spring semester with a mix of structured course work, group discussion, and independent research. The class explores social change theory, community-based research, systems thinking, and leadership strategies. The structures of non-profit organizations and local government agencies are examined and the professional expectations and conduct that students will uphold in their summer work are discussed. Students work independently to research the economic, social, and political history of their area of concentration.

    The core of the program is the summer internship which pairs students with mentors working in community organizations in one of four areas: education, environment, health, or social equity. Students participate in six-week, full-time internships in the wider Oakland community to help organizations make a difference in the lives of local residents. The program concludes in the fall semester with independent and collaborative work and the preparation of a formal presentation for the wider College Prep community.
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taking risks in history class

History

List of 6 members.

  • Photo of Katherine Gumbert

    Katherine Gumbert 

    History Teacher
    510-652-0111 x235
  • Photo of Johanna Lanner-Cusin '99

    Johanna Lanner-Cusin '99 99

    History Teacher
    510-652-0111 x235
  • Photo of Gregor Nazarian

    Gregor Nazarian 

    History Teacher
    510-652-0111 x235
  • Photo of Daniel Song

    Daniel Song 

    History Teacher
    510-652-0111 x235
  • Photo of Preston Tucker

    Preston Tucker 

    History / Director of Curricular Innovation and Research
    510-652-0111 x268
  • Photo of Stephen Wilson

    Stephen Wilson 

    History Teacher
    510-652-0111 x235

mens conscia recti

a mind aware of what is right