Browse Curriculum

Upper School History

The study of history is a cornerstone of a liberal arts education. History provides an appreciation of the past, its peoples and its cultures. The study of history offers unique opportunities to understand the human condition and the processes of change. These skills are necessary for the development of citizenship in a democratic republic.  
 
History allows for the development of a range of skills including reading, writing, interpretative analysis, and critical thinking. Research is an integral part of historical scholarship and requires familiarity with current technologies for investigation and communication. 
 
Our history teachers seek ways to connect students to the world beyond the Nichols campus: Service and Social Justice and Entrepreneurial Studies give students the opportunity to engage with people passionate about their fields in and around the city of Buffalo. 
  • Advanced Ancient World History


    For Grade 9

    This course is a survey course tracing the development of civilization from the Neolithic Revolution to the emergence of the modern world around 1500 CE. Emphasis is placed on an examination of the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Greece, Rome & the medieval Mediterranean. A strong emphasis is also placed on the development of key skills through a multifaceted program of instruction. Instruction emphasizes technology and media skills and fosters development of critical thinking and reading. Special attention is also paid to analyzing and interpreting primary sources as a key to understanding history. Finally, connections to contemporary world issues is a critical aspect of this course, promoting historical understanding as well as global awareness.

    The Advanced section signifies additional coursework.
     
  • Ancient World History


    For Grade 9

    This course is a survey course tracing the development of civilization from the Neolithic Revolution to the emergence of the modern world around 1500 CE. Emphasis is placed on an examination of the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Greece, Rome & the medieval Mediterranean. A strong emphasis is also placed on the development of key skills through a multifaceted program of instruction. Instruction emphasizes technology and media skills and fosters development of critical thinking and reading. Special attention is also paid to analyzing and interpreting primary sources as a key to understanding history. Finally, connections to contemporary world issues is a critical aspect of this course, promoting historical understanding as well as global awareness.
  • AP Economics


    History Elective for Grade 12

    This course is a study of the major concepts of economics, using the A.P. curriculum as a guide. The course begins with a focus on the basic concepts of economics, providing a foundation for the rest of the course.

    For most of the first semester, the course examines basic economic principles and macroeconomics. The purpose of this half of the course is to give students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to an economic system. There is an emphasis on the study of national income and price-level determination, while developing students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international 
    economics. Through an examination of macroeconomic perspectives and ideas, students have a better understanding of economics on the national and international level, and relate them to everyday examples and applications in the classroom.

    The second semester focuses on microeconomics. Students examine the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual decision-makers, both consumers and producers, within the economic system. An emphasis is placed on the nature and functions of product markets, including the study of factor markets and of the role of government in promoting greater efficiency and equity in the economy. Both semesters culminate in a comprehensive examination. A macroeconomics exam is given at mid-year and a microeconomics exam is given at the end of the year. 

    Prerequisite: Recommendation from the department. This course concludes with the expectation that all students will take either the AP Macroeconomics or AP Microeconomics exam given in May. 
  • AP Government and Politics


    History Elective for Grade 12

    There are two segments to this course, which examine government and politics. The first semester of the course begins with a general study of the American political system, taking a look at the constitutional and federal context of the national government as well as the cultural and ideological backdrop against which this system operates. It provides students with an analytical perspective on government and politics in the U.S., including both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. government and politics and the analysis of specific examples. The course also provides familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitutes U.S. government and politics.

    The second semester of this course focuses on comparative government and politics. This segment of the course provides students with a global perspective as they compare and contrast different political systems throughout the world. Students examine a variety of countries from Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia, focusing on political institutions and behaviors, and drawing conclusions about the impact that these countries have on each other and the global community. Students also explore the following topics: the concept of sovereignty, political institutions, the relationship between citizenship, state, and society, political and economic change, as well as public policy. By examining both U.S. Government and Politics and Comparative Government and Politics, students have a solid foundation in understanding how the government and countries interact and impact each other. Growing out of this, students also have a solid foundation in understanding how different governing systems work, providing the students with important perspectives and insights into the global community.

    This course requires an extensive commitment from students if they want to be successful. Daily preparation, attention to detail, refinement of written work, and a commitment to work in class is vital to all students in this course. There are periodic tests and quizzes as well as two exams, one at mid-year and another at the 
    end of the year. 

    Prerequisite: Recommendation from the department. This course concludes with the expectation that all students will take either the AP US Government & Politics or AP Comparative Government & Politics exam given in May. 
  • AP Psychology


    History Elective for Grade 12

    This course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. They also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice. Major topics include history and approaches, research methods, biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, learning, cognition, motivation and emotion, developmental psychology, personality, testing and individual differences, abnormal psychology, treatment of psychological disorders, and social psychology. 

    Prerequisite: Recommendation from the department. This course concludes with the expectation that all students will take the AP exam given in May. 
  • AP US History


    For Grade 11

    AP U.S. History is designed to be the equivalent of a two-semester introductory college or university U.S. history course. In AP U.S. History students investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes in nine historical periods from approximately 1491 to the present. Students develop and use the same skills, practices, and methods employed by historians: analyzing primary and secondary sources; making historical comparisons; utilizing reasoning about contextualization, causation, and continuity and change over time; and developing historical arguments. The course also provides seven themes that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places: American and national identity; migration and settlement; politics and power; work, exchange, and technology; America in the world; geography and the environment; and culture and society.” The Junior History Paper is a requirement of this class. The course concludes with the expectation that all students will take the AP examination given in May. 
  • AP World History


    For Grade 10

    AP Modern World History focuses on developing students’ abilities to think conceptually about world history from approximately 1200 CE to the present and apply historical thinking skills about the past. Five themes prevail in this course: focusing on the environment, cultures, state-building, economic systems, and social structures. This course encompasses the history of five geographic regions of the globe: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, with special focus on historical developments and processes that cross multiple regions. The course concludes with the expectation that all students will take the AP examination given in May. 
  • Entrepreneurial Studies


    History Elective for Grade 12

    This class analyzes the problems of real start-up companies and asks students to present solutions and creative ideas to business owners over a short time frame. Students work in teams to brainstorm, research, interview, and propose ideas to help business owners. After working on two or three real business problems, students explore the steps necessary to create a new start-up. The course combines theoretical and experiential learning to prepare students to transform knowledge into practice. Students benefit as they learn to think critically, make well-informed decisions, innovate, and communicate effectively in today’s high-tech, fast changing world. 
  • Modern World History


    For Grade 10

    This course is framed as a continuation of our 9th grade course in Ancient World History. The course begins with the end of the Middle Ages in Europe, and continues to the present. Topics include the rise of nation-states, the era of colonization, the Atlantic slave trade, social and intellectual developments, the 20th century (World Wars, dictatorships, and the Cold War), and the Age of Terrorism. This course encompasses the history of five geographic regions of the globe: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, with special focus on historical developments and processes that cross multiple regions. Critical reading is expected and analytical writing is developed. Students learn to work with primary documents and refine research skills.  
  • Service and Social Justice


    History Elective for Grade 12

    Do you feel called to serve others? Is the idea of making a difference important to you? Are you interested in social change? Are you bothered by injustice? Do you suspect that there is more to a good education and a good life than only individualistic or selfcentered pursuits? If you answer “yes” or “maybe” to any of the above questions, Service and Social Justice (SSJ) is for you.

    SSJ is a course that will be at turns experiential, academic, and personal. The experiential part of this course centers on hands-on service learning experiences both here at school and out in our Western New York community, where we will often find ourselves off campus partnering with local nonprofit organizations. The academic part of SSJ will, through reading, writing, film, guest speakers, and class participation, encourage students to participate in the ongoing discussions and debates surrounding service and social justice. Finally, the personal aspect of this course will ask students to reflect on their experiences in the classroom and out in the community, to keep a service journal, and to arrive at a personal ethic of service that might help to shape, enrich, and give meaning to their lives after Nichols.

    Through all of this work, students will gain practical skills while also arriving at a deeper understanding of injustices such as homelessness, the ongoing refugee crisis, economic, racial, and gender inequities, environmental degradation and pollution, poverty, unequal access to healthcare, and hunger. At its heart, then, SSJ aims to fulfill our shared Nichols commitment to “train minds, bodies, and hearts for the work of life.”
     
  • US History


    For Grade 11

    Students take a course with two major components. The first is a chronological coverage of American history from the Colonial period to the present. In the second 25 component, students examine in depth critical themes of American history. Critical writing and analytical skills are emphasized. So, too, is historiography, the analysis of how historians have viewed controversial events, trends, or people in history. In the second semester, the Junior History Paper, a major 2,000 to 3,000-word research paper is required. Topics are introduced in the spring at the teacher’s discretion, and the process of completing a major research paper becomes the focus of the third quarter.  

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Nichols School is a nationally recognized college preparatory coed independent school with a 128-year history.