History

Philosophy

The History Department at VES is dedicated to developing critical, independent thought and expression among its students through a progressive and developmental sequence of courses. The school requires three years of history for graduation: most students take Global Civilization in Ninth Grade followed by Government, United States History, and senior electives in subsequent years including history of Modern Europe, history of Modern Asia, or Economics (with Advanced Placement sections in Government, American History, and Modern European History). The department focuses on preparing students for the challenges of a university education: reading texts, implementing strategies for note-taking, and writing critical essays and research papers. The skills required for each course in our curriculum build on those learned in past courses.

Teachers in the History Department benefit from the low student to teacher ratio and small class sizes in order to create close relationships between students and teachers. Utilization of the Hopkins Writing Center allows for a meeting place for students and teachers to work amongst one another, and teachers in the department have a variety of experiences and academic interests that creates a greater sense of collegiality. After completing the sequence of courses in the History curriculum, students should be able to understand the motives and ideas of historical figures and events in order to think critically and create logical and coherent arguments in their work in college and in later life.

Course Descriptions

Ninth Grade Global Cultures
Global Cultures is a course designed for ninth grade students at VES. In taking this course students learn about the History of the World from the beginning of civilization to the Renaissance through different global spheres: Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, East Asia, and the Americas. Content is taught through themes, including:

  • What does it mean to be civilized?
  • How do themes such as law, military, freedom, wealth, and piety influence cultures?
  • Why do cultures in different areas differ? Why are they similar?

This course is designed to use its content to further develop the academic skills necessary for success in a college-preparatory environment. Students read primary and secondary sources, conduct their own research on smaller and larger research projects, and write persuasive essays. Course activities are designed to facilitate discussion among classmates, an understanding of the issues across the world in the past and present, and to create critical and independent thinkers.

Government
The Government course focuses on the theories of government with particular attention to the history, principles, and practices of the United States government. Spanning the colonial period through the modern era, course content includes early theories and forms of government, as well as the Constitution, separation of powers, and the system of checks and balances. Civil rights and liberties are covered as part of an in depth study of the Bill of Rights. Students explore the relationship between American political and economic systems.

AP Government
Advanced Placement Government is open to students in grades ten through twelve. The course parallels the standard Government course, but includes more material, moves at a faster pace, and examines topics in a more critical manner. Students in AP Government are required to take the national Advanced Placement exam.

United States History
United States History is a thorough course, ranging from the late pre-historic period through the beginning of the 21st century. The course covers traditional political and diplomatic, but also social, economic, and cultural, history. Major themes covered include, but are not limited to, Exploration and Colonialism, the early Republic, the causes and history of the Civil War, Reconstruction, Industrialization and Immigration, Populism and Progressivism, Imperialism, World War I, the Great Depression and the New Deal, World War II, the Cold War, Civil Rights and Vietnam, Liberalism and the “New Conservatism,” and the Clinton-Bush period. United States History is required for graduation.

AP United States History
Advanced Placement United States History allows stronger or more motivated students to study United States History in greater depth and with a deeper level of analysis. The course covers more material and moves at a faster pace. It requires more independence and individual initiative from the students, while maintaining a collegial class environment. Students are required to take the national Advanced Placement examination.

European History
European History in the senior year covers Modern Europe from the Italian Renaissance through the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of modern democratic states in central and eastern Europe. Major themes covered include the Renaissance and Reformation, Imperialism, the rise of the Modern Nation State, the development of Absolutism and Constitutionalism, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, the Atlantic System, the French Revolution and Napoleon, the establishment of Romanticism, liberalism, and socialism, New Imperialism, World War I and the Versailles Treaty, The Russian Revolution and the establishment of Totalitarian states, World War II and the Cold War, the economic recovery of Europe, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The course emphasizes traditional political, diplomatic, social, economic, and cultural themes, as well as newer topics such as “globalization” (“Europe and the World”).

AP European History
Advanced Placement European History allows stronger or more motivated students to study European History in greater depth, and with a deeper level of analysis. The course covers more material and moves at a faster pace. It requires more independence and individual initiative from the students, while maintaining a collegial class environment. Students are required to take the national Advanced Placement examination.

Economics
Economics is a broad and varied year-long course which covers the basic principles and themes of the discipline: theory, organization, markets, strategies, investing, advertising, production, and consumerism. It very much approximates a freshman course in college, with an emphasis on the application of theory and principle to contemporary business and consumer practices.

Contact History Department

John Baker
Anne McKimmon Winston Chair of History
Phone: 434-385-3852

Chris Button
Phone: 434-385-3851

Martha Terrell Burruss
Phone: 434-385-3624

Matt Johnson
Phone: 434-385-3621

Robert Leake
Phone: 434-385-3882

Doug Smith
Anne McKimmon Winston Chair Emeritus of History
Phone: 434-385-3626

Zach Wakefield
Phone: 434-385-3620

Honor. Rigor. Community. Relationships. Individual Attention.

© Copyright 2010-13. Virginia Episcopal School
400 VES Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503 | 434-385-3600