The History Department believes that students should garner an understanding of the broad historical forces that have shaped the modern world.
An important goal is to demonstrate how people perceived events in their own time as well as how historians have viewed them from a later vantage point. Through this study students are able to better examine and address contemporary problems with increased awareness of their role as both an individual and a citizen of the world. Each course is designed with overarching questions that help to guide students through their studies as they encounter a wide variety of sources and learn to think, speak and write critically within the discipline of history.
Courses examine the global forces and interactions that have shaped the modern world, as well as the evolution of institutions and ideas within United States history. In the second form, students are introduced to China and India through an investigation of each culture and an examination of the reasons why and how societies evolve and change over time. Later in their high school tenure students can choose from a variety of history electives, while at each level, students are introduced to research methods that culminate with an independent research project. The department also offers the opportunity for independent study to students with a strong interest in particular historical topics that may not be included in the curriculum.
Cultural Studies introduces students to China and India through an investigation of each culture's political institutions, economic and social structures, and philosophical and religious values. In the process, students examine the reasons why societies evolve as they do, and scrutinize the historical roots of current conflicts and controversies. An equally important objective of the course is to hone the skills historians use to make meaning of the past. Students learn to read primary and secondary texts strategically and critically; ask great questions; research honestly and effectively; and analyze, construct and present compelling arguments on paper and at the Harkness table. Grants: NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: II
This course examines economic developments, ideas and cultural patterns that have contributed to the shaping of the modern world since 1400. Using the disciplinary skills and modes of inquiry of historians the course asks central questions. “How did the economic world order change from 1400 to 1700? What roles did Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas play in this transformation?” “How did Europe come to a position of global economic dominance by the 19th century?” “What were the global consequences of this dominance?” “What forces challenged and changed this dominance in the 20th century?” The goal of this course is to understand the advent and consequences of the “European moment” in world history, within a non-Eurocentric narrative. Grants: NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: III
The United States History course traces the development of American political, social, economic, and cultural history from the colonial period to contemporary times. The course introduces students to the main issues that are necessary for understanding, interpreting, and analyzing modern society. Students will also complete a research paper pertinent to American history on a topic of their choice as a culminating exercise. You must sign up for HI422 and HI423 for Winter and Spring. Grants: NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV Prereqs: HI301
This one-term survey introduces macroeconomics to students of history and to readers of the news. On a global scale, it will examine economic development in the long run, including the elimination of poverty and the spread of literacy. It will also look at the economic costs and benefits of international trade. On the national level, the course will focus on economic growth in the long run and on short-run problems that arise from the business cycle, such as unemployment and price instability. Finally, students will discuss the pros and cons of disruptive change in the economy and the range of policies for dealing with both recessions and inflation.
Grants: NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
Apartheid was the national policy of South Africa from 1948 until 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected President, after spending 27 years of his adult life in prison. This course will investigate the source and practice of apartheid- how it developed and oppressed black South Africans economically, socially, culturally and politically and the movements within of South Africa to end this oppressive system, including the key figures of the anti-apartheid movement, whose efforts and suffering began to be recognized internationally, inspiring people outside of South Africa to join in the fight. A key focus will be the role of music as an effective means of protest, as well as the transformation of Nelson Mandela, from a proponent of violent opposition to the apartheid government to a unifying leader of post-Apartheid South Africa. Finally, the course will focus on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. While this commission served as a landmark in post-conflict resolution, it has prompted questions about the nature of justice and amnesty. Sources for this course will include newspapers, documentaries, excerpts of powerful anti-apartheid music and novels, memoirs, and accounts of historians, journalists, and politicians. Grants Honors; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
The Honors United States History course traces the development of American political, social, economic, and cultural history from the Colonial period to contemporary times. The course introduces students to the main issues that are necessary for understanding, interpreting, and analyzing modern society. It includes exercises that will prepare students to take the AP® United States History Examination in the spring term. You must sign up for HI512 and HI513 for Winter and Spring.
Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
The Heely Scholar program is an archival research for rising V formers that have demonstrated a keen interest and ability in their study of American History. In the summer the students will be introduced to primary research with the school's collection of archives and in the following fall the students will be enrolled in an advance research seminar class. The intent of the fall course is to give the Scholars the opportunity to expand their summer research into an individual senior thesis while being introduced to the conventions and the discipline of historical writing. Grants: Honors; Terms: T1; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI301
This is a yearlong course that introduces students to the fundamental principles of American Government. Topics include the philosophical and historical foundations of the American political system; its constitutional structure; and its major governing institutions. The course also includes a unit of study on landmark Supreme Court cases in the history of American Constitutional Law. A unique aspect of this course is that the spring term is dedicated to internships and case projects promoting political activism, especially at the local level. These opportunities allow for the students of Honors Government to apply their yearlong study of the fundamental principles of American government and political philosophy. Examples of past experiences include government internships at the Congressional, State and township level. The students will also be able to gain exposure to nonprofit organizations, press agencies and political advertising firms. For students that do not have flexibility in their schedules there are a number of projects that have been developed to encourage Lawrenceville students to take local action in support of national policy. An overriding theme for these projects is to consider whether there is a public purpose of private education? How should Lawrenceville focus on creating leaders for tomorrow?
A secondary goal of the course is to compare America's system of government to alternative political models that exist in other nations, although students who are primarily interested in Foreign Policy, International Relations, and the study of regimes outside the United States should explore other course offerings in the History Department.
Note: While the course is not explicitly designed with AP® test preparation in mind, some of the material we will cover is tested on the AP® American Politics exam. Students will be in a position to take that AP® Exam if they so choose after additional consultation with instructor.You must sign up for HI522 and HI523 for Winter and Spring.
The United States is the world’s leading jailer. As you peruse this course catalog, 2.2 million Americans are imprisoned, often in overcrowded and violent conditions. An additional 4 million are either on probation or parole. And a disproportionate number of those locked up—or locked out of rights and opportunities for having once been incarcerated—are African American. Why in the United States have we chosen to incarcerate so many people and, particularly, so many people of color? What are the consequences of mass incarceration for the imprisoned, for their families and communities, and for the rest of us? And most urgently, how can we reform our nation’s criminal justice system so our efforts to ensure public safety are less punitive and more productive? Students in this course will examine these questions through text, film, podcasts, and seminars with guest speakers. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, is a study in contradictions. Humble and self-educated, he left a legacy of enduring eloquence. A backwoods brawler in his youth, he became a solitary and melancholy figure as President. Politically pragmatic at the most common level, he put principle above all else when it counted most. Widely disparaged and reviled at the peak of his political career, he became in death a national hero. This course uses primary sources-Lincoln's own letters, speeches and reflections-in an attempt to extract the man from the myths that have encrusted him, and to examine the role of both man and myth in American history. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T2; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
Civil rights – what a society guarantees to each of its members to ensure a person’s meaningful participation in the activities central to their membership in that society – have dramatically changed over time. Most people today consider “petitioning the government,” a right explicitly enumerated by the First Amendment, and voting, a right nowhere mentioned in the constitution, to be obvious and central to achieving meaningful political participation. However, protection from discrimination by private actors, securing legal recognition of the romantic union of one’s choice, and having access to publicly provided education, among others, are arguably important aspects of “full citizenship” that Americans have been arguing about since the founding of the republic. We will examine how American civil rights have changed over time. From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, to trial of the Amistad rebellion of 1839; from the Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1883, to the Obergefell v. Hodges case of 2014; from affirmative action in the 1960s to Black Lives Matter today; the course will put American history on trial. Grants: Honors; Terms: T3; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
This course is designed to enable students to gain a more complete understanding of totalitarianism and the modern totalitarian state. Initially we shall seek to understand the totalitarian state's historical origins and its ideological foundations through reading primary source materials. In the case of Germany and Russia, we shall determine when, how, and why their leaders took power; how they were able to maintain it; and in what ways the state systems they established were similar and different. In particular we shall examine the violent nature of these states and why they created so much havoc and misery, which eventually led to the most destructive conflict in history, the Second World War. In considering their development further, we shall also focus on their inherent weaknesses that would culminate in their ultimate failure. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
This course is limited to students with a strong academic record, particularly in mathematics. Candidates must have successfully completed calculus, or be taking it in their senior year, and must have demonstrated a degree of academic commitment consistent with honors-level demands. The course takes the students through a rigorous survey of microeconomics and macroeconomics. Consistent with an accelerated college-level approach to economics, the course relies on mathematical tools to explain theory. Students who complete this course will be prepared to take the AP®exams in both macroeconomics and microeconomics. You must sign up for HI552 and HI553 for Winter and Spring. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: All; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
The course explores a range of public policy issues from an economic perspective. No formal economic training is required, although students will learn to approach problems from an economic perspective as the course unfolds. To that end, many of the readings will be classic papers by economists, and much of the analysis will require the students to run data through Excel spreadsheets. Given the complexity of some of the issues discussed, students are expected to generate good questions more often than solutions. At a minimum, the course seeks to introduce some gray into complex subjects that are too often reduced to black and white. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T2; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
We will explore competing theories that explain the various ways in which cross-border interactions – International Relations – shape political, economic, and cultural conditions. By critically analyzing historical and contemporary cases that shed light on the development of international relations over time, we will learn about how international actors foster conflict and cooperation, engage in trade, develop principles of international law, pursue security arrangements, guarantee human rights, and address challenges of collective action such as climate change. Grants: Honors; Terms: T2; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
Heclo and Salamon in The Illusion of Presidential Government state, "Nothing about the presidency is as simple as it seems...the office is more than a man, but less than a fixed institution. It is a place where an uncommon person is expected to act on the concerns of the common people, to lead without being power hungry, to manage without seeming manipulative, and to speak for a nation that never expresses itself with one voice." This course will examine the constitutional origins of the office and the evolution of the presidency. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
This course seeks to examine America's most divisive war in considerable depth. In particular, we will try to answer key questions about the nature of the war, such as: Why did compromise between North and South fail in the 1850s? Was secession legal? Why did it take Abraham Lincoln until late 1862 to make emancipation a war goal? Why did the North win? Why did the South lose? To what degree was it a "total war"? Was it a just war? Various sources shall be employed in seeking a more comprehensive understanding of the conflict, such as primary documents, historical essays, documentary and commercial films, music, literature, and art. The class may take a trip to the Gettysburg Battlefield if time and schedules allow. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T2; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
The Fifth Century BCE is at the center of the Classical Age in ancient Greece, and Athens is at the center of the Classical Age. Athenians witnessed, among other things, the original experiment in democracy, the refinement of what we now call politics, the birth of the idea of inquiry into the real past, which we now call history, and the beginnings of medicine, geometry, philosophy, physics and drama. They put the Muse in music. They did not invent sculpture, but took it to classical heights, as they did with architecture. Theirs was not the first alphabet, but they vastly refined what they took from the Phoenicians, principally by adding vowels, and then wrote everything down in a wholly new style called prose. Yes, they invented prose. They were reflexively competitive (witness the PanHellenic games at Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and Corinth and the dramatic competitions). They were united by language, religion and trade, but fragmented by geography into a thousand separate city states, or poleis, from which we get words such as politics and policy. The ambitious readings in this course will include a combination of essays, plays and historical texts in translation to answer questions such as: How do we know what the classical Greek world was like? What did it mean to be Greek? How do philology and archaeology bring us history? What makes the Fifth Century BCE central? Why did democracy emerge in Athens, and why did it ultimately fail? How did Plato and Aristotle respond to that failure? How does Athenian culture, from pottery to sculpture, reflect humanism? What did Athenian tragedy and comedy have to do with politics and competitiveness? What was the role of women and of religion and of the PanHellenic games? Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
This discussion-based course asks: What is history, and how do we write it? It is less a history of the Vietnam War than a history of how the press covered it. Journalists often claim that their work is the first rough draft of history. In Vietnam, their work-both in print and on television-was controversial and influential. Students in this course will study that work in order to address questions such as: Was the press a spectator, or did it become part of the drama? Did journalists capture history's first rough draft, or did they leave behind a record that is ultimately tainted? Did the correspondents do what was right, and if so, right for whom? Were they professionals, or were they subversives? If their work was not the first rough draft of history, then what was it? Did the press "lose" Vietnam? Did the rise of television turn the role of the journalist more into the role of performer? What was the impact of photography? Students will study original source material. Their work will be judged by their skill conducting class discussions, the depth of their analysis in several essays, and a final paper. Grants: Honors NCAA; Terms: T3; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
This course examines the impact of historical events on the lives of American women and the varied roles they played in shaping American History. We will focus on how gender, ethnicity, and class impacted women’s work, family life and societal status. Guiding questions will include: What was it like to be a woman in the past? How did being female determine one’s choices? What is gained by focusing on women’s experiences and accomplishments in historical periods and events? Who or what decides what is appropriate behavior for women and for men, and why? This course is an introduction to the study of women as historical subjects and to the changing notions of gender through historical periods. It will include a consideration of the methodological issues that have shaped the recent practice of women’s history and gender history, and will look specifically at the variety of women’s roles (and the variety of women) in the United States throughout its history. Grants: Honors; Terms: T3; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
This is a unique course combining the study of poverty in the classroom with community service. Poverty is a two-trimester course that examines the historic, economic, and cultural roots as well as the impact of poverty in the developing world and in the United States. In particular we will try to understand the cyclical nature of poverty and the interaction between causes and effects. We will then study many of the different approaches taken to alleviating poverty—from big aid programs to microfinance, social entrepreneurship and more, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each and the lessons we can learn along the way about how to effectively alleviate poverty. As we turn to the US, we will look especially at poverty in Mercer County, exploring how domestic issues are similar or different from those studied in the developing world.
Integral to the course is our service learning work with Home Front during our extended block. We learn about all the aspects of Home Front in their efforts to provide full-service assistance to homeless families in Mercer County. In addition, we will do various tasks at their Family Campus, from childcare and arts and crafts to cooking, programming and whatever they need us to do. In turn, this service will inform our understanding of poverty and the poor communities throughout the world. The course will culminate in students devising a plan of action for addressing a specific aspect of poverty in the world. Independent and group research are central components of the course, so students need to be able to research independently. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 2IN/2HI Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: V (IV Form only with permission of instructor)
The Lewis and Clark Expedition offers us a real-life mythical tale full of adventure and danger as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark lead their ‘Corps of Discovery’ through the American West from 1804-1806. You’ll relive their experience in the Northern Great Plains, the badlands of the Dakotas/Montana, the rugged Rocky Mountains, and the Columbia River basin in the Pacific Northwest--and back--as you track their progress and consider the multiple primary source journals that have been preserved, full of detail and emotion that comes alive through their work. We’ll study this important expedition through the explorers’ and the Native Americans’ lens as this American epic comes alive through the fascinating and accessible academic research along with their incredible journal documentation. We’ll study the Corps’ contributions to science as they classify and catalogue new species while collecting scientific data daily as they search for a navigable route to the Pacific. You’ll have a parallel historical experience as we set forth to build our own canoe and paddles--by hand-- in the newly expanded Gruss Art Center to better understand the art and science of the North American canoe on this expedition, both in form, structure, and as Native American expressions of cultural identity. This epic journey will capture your imagination as you reconsider what you knew about Native American culture, the natural history or the West, and how a scientific body of knowledge comes to fruition. This three dimensional, interdisciplinary course will draw on the history, science, and visual arts disciplines so you can learn, ‘remake,’ and appreciate this piece of classic Americana in the epic tale of adventure of Lewis and Clark. You’ll leave the course with a deep understanding of the early 19th century west, a love of natural history, knowledge of the scientific discoveries of the Corp--and the experience of crafting a canoe and using it in a traditional style! Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 2IN/2HI Cr.; Terms: T2 and T3; Forms: V (IV Form only with permission of instructor)
How has the Russian national identity been created by its culture? What is remembered? What is commemorated? What is preserved? How does what is remembered differ from the historical record? This course is an opportunity to explore not only the history of Russia, but also its rich culture, including Russian art, music, architecture, literature and language. The span of time covered will be from Kievan Rus in the 10th century through the present day, including the rule of the tsars of Russia, the Russian Revolution, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the fall of communism. Particular attention will be given to the late 1800's, the time widely recognized as Russia's Golden Age, when Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and the great Itinerant painters were all creating great works of Russian literature, music and art that represent an essential aspect of Russian national culture. A focus of the course will be to try to understand how Russians see themselves, through an examination of what they remember, value, and preserve and the implications of this in the current global community. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
The largest country in South America defies easy generalizations. One of the largest economies in the world, Brazil is a thriving democracy of over 200 million people spread over a territory larger than the 48 contiguous states of the United States. Multiracial, multicultural, home to millions of immigrants, politically open, economically vibrant, and socially tolerant, Brazilian identity and civilization has emerged from the crucible of political instability, military coups, hyperinflation, religious syncretism, and racial discrimination. The course explores Brazil’s history, economic development, politics, religion, and geography as we explore how Brazilians have invented and reinvented their sense of identity as they faced, and continue to confront, complex questions of race, migration, poverty, growth, corruption, accountability, sustainability, and quality of life. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
This course will evaluate recent events and the current state of Africa as well as study the themes and issues which have contributed to the history of the continent. While this course can be taken on its own it is highly recommended to also take the second term course "Africa: Then and Now - From Independence" for a more complete chronology of African history, culture, and modern issues. Students begin the course by acquiring a general sense of Africa today through a study of geography, resources, and current events. Our exploration of Africa will highlight the greatness of its history as we begin chronologically with a study of Africa in the Middle Ages, a time of great power and world influence. This study of Africa's history is necessary to further evaluate and debate the impact of the transatlantic slave trade and further understand it in the context of the indigenous as well as Arab slave trade. We will also celebrate the continent’s rich diversity as we explore the arts: visiting museums, working with our own collection of masks and visual art, and will learn African drumming and dance utilizing local instructors. Chronologically the course ends with a study of colonial rule and the legacy of imperialism. A special feature of this course is its curricular connection to a spring break trip to Ghana. This trip will enable students to learn about slavery past and present and will also feature African drumming and dance. Students enrolled in this course will be given the first opportunity to enroll in this program. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
This course is well paired with the 1st term course "Africa: Then & Now" but may be taken without the first term course. The course will evaluate current events in Africa and look at the themes, issues, and sources of causation in Africa's history. We will explore how and why many in Africa have experienced famine, war, and destabilization in spite of the continent’s enormous wealth of resources. A look at Africa's geography, resource wealth, and current events will launch the course before we study the impact of colonialism and the transition into a state of independence. Other topics of study include the legacy of the Cold War in Africa's development, ethnic conflict and genocide, and other contemporary themes. A special feature of this course is its curricular connection to a spring break trip to Ghana. The trip will enable students to learn about slavery past and present and will also feature African drumming and dance. Students enrolled in this course will be given the first opportunity to enroll in this program. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
This course will focus on common misunderstandings and misperceptions of the cultures and religions that meet at the complex crossroads of the Middle East, through an examination of the historical record and cultural interactions from varying points of view. By taking this course focused on the history, religions and cultures of the Middle East, the students will gain a broader world view of this critical and complex region of the world. For students to more fully understand the modern Middle East, they must investigate the roots of conflict and misunderstanding by understanding the historical memory of the peoples that coexist in this complex region and looking through various cultural lenses. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T1 or T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI301
Civil liberties – the choices individuals get to make even in the face of great social opposition – are ultimately claims about the meaning and limits of morality and justice. Claims about what is moral, good, or right have become embedded in the fabric of American law because the Supreme Court, in its the efforts to contract, preserve, or expand civil liberties over time, has relied on such claims to limit the powers of the state. What competing conceptions of justice do our laws embrace? What ideas about human nature, politics, and morality have guided the Supreme Court in its adjudication of claims? By critically examining court opinions as well as readings in moral philosophy and science, students will explore what have been – or should be – the boundaries of governmental regulation of contested areas such as religious liberty, freedom of speech, and personal privacy. We will explore the state of the law in areas such as hate speech, religion-based exemptions to the law, abortion, pornography, and assisted suicide, among others topics, as we explore how reasoning about what is moral impacts American ideas about justice and the constitution. Grants: Honors NCAA; 1IN/1HI Cr.; Terms: T1; Forms: V; Prereqs: HI421 or HI511
“There is a limit to our powers of assimilation, and when it is exceeded, the country suffers from something very much like indigestion,” bemoaned a The New York Times editorial in 1880, in response to the greatest wave of immigration our country had ever seen. Since then, the United States has become the refuge, the workplace and the home to millions more immigrants, legal and not, from countries near and far. What explains this massive influx of people? And what are its implications - both for the immigrants who leave home, family and history behind to reinvent themselves in America - and for America itself? Can this nation of immigrants continue to absorb, economically and socially, wave upon wave of newcomers? Can we afford not to? And how will a new administration’s immigration policies affect our nation, our national identity, and our position in the world? In this two-term interdisciplinary course, students will explore these questions through the lenses of history, economics, memoir and literature. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary NCAA 2IN/1HI/1EN Cr.; Terms: T1 and T2; Forms: IV or V; Prereqs: HI423 or HI513
This course is a one-term 500-level Interdisciplinary course between HI and PA focused on Dramaturgy, the theory and craft of dramatic composition. Dramaturgy steeps itself in detailed research of the historical time period, influences, factors, and anthropological data that influence the world in a given play. In this class, we will analyze three classic plays and compile three bodies of research tied to the context and influences of the time and setting as presented in a contemporary performance. The culminating project will require students to present a comprehensive portfolio of materials based on a driving dramaturgical prompt, requiring research in scholarly articles, performance archives, and visual supportive evidence. The study and culminating work is where history and anthropology collide with culture and theatrical craft, in and through research. Grants: Honors Interdisciplinary; 1IN/1PA/1HI Cr.; Terms: T2; Forms IV or V; Prereqs: Completion of any 300 level art class
Students with special interests they wish to explore outside the regular program of courses may apply for an independent study. This may involve research or creative work; normally it will culminate in a paper, exhibit, or performance of some kind. Work in such projects is treated exactly like work in regular courses: a final grade is given; students must meet regularly (at least once a week) with their advisor; they must have tangible progress to report at each meeting. Grants: Honors; Terms: T1 or T2 or T3; Forms: All Prereqs: HI421 or HI511 and Department Approval
Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose. Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.