History & Social Science

To explore history and the social sciences, we challenge every student to use active inquiry as they analyze complex ideas and develop original, valid conclusions. Our mission is that The Hudson School students use the information and skills learned in our courses to become involved global citizens who believe that by taking responsible action, they are empowered to create the world that they desire.

Our curriculum teaches students to unlock the intertwined roots of our present world so that they can engage and shape the issues confronting our global society. Through their learning, students gain an appreciation of multiple points of view and develop compassion by recognizing traits shared by our common humanity. In doing so, they acquire the self-knowledge and confidence to manage future challenges.

History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.

Robert Penn Warren

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. 

Robert Kennedy


Requirements for Graduation: Modern Global History, 1500-Present; 1 year of U.S. History; 1 additional history course; Personal Finance, Civics

Electives: Introduction to Psychology, Honors American History, Latin American History and Literature, Global Politics & Military History, Asian Studies, The History of French Espionage, Honors Seminar, AP Macroeconomics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP Human Geography, AP Art History

Not all electives are offered each year. 

Modern Global History is designed to help students better under- stand the events and ideas that contributed to building our world today. We explore and connect key issues and events that occurred in history to grasp the influence of each on the development of our global politics, our global economy and our many cultures. Using the textbook, World History: Patterns of Interaction, topics include Absolutism, Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution, Revolution and Nationalism, Industrialism and the Race for Empire, The World at War, Restructuring the Post-War World and Global Interdependence.



U.S. History: Citizenship, Change and Civil Rights
Grades: 10
Students can elect to view U.S. history through the lens of ordinary citizens working to ensure that as the country grew, equal opportunities and civil rights expanded along with it. Special attention is paid to the views of those citizens who fought and continue to fight for inclusion: women, minorities, immigrants and the underserved, racial struggles and ethnic experiences, and agents of change in local, regional and national policies. Essential questions we consider include: should all Americans benefit from the same rights? What are the responsibilities of global citizenship? What are the responsibilities of a government? What issues should determine our involvement in foreign affairs? Does activism create sustainable change? Topics include social and economic development and disparities, the Constitution and change, the relationships between civilians and those active in the military, regional points of view, protection and personal rights, and active citizens as agents of change.

U.S. History: The Mainstream
Grades: 10
Students will investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes in American political history. Students will use many of the same skills and methods employed by historians: analyzing primary and secondary sources; developing historical arguments; making historical
connections; and utilizing reasoning about comparison, causation, and continuity and change. Topics will include: national identity, work, economic exchange, technology, geography; migration and settlement; politics and power; America in the world; American and regional culture; and
social structures. 

Grades: 11, 12
AP Art History is an introductory college-level art history course. Students cultivate their understanding of art history through analyzing works of art and placing them in historical context as they explore concepts like culture and cultural interactions, theories and interpretations of art, the impact of materials, processes, and techniques on art and art-making, and understanding purpose and audience in art historical analysis.

AP Human Geography’s purpose is to introduce students to a systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped mankind’s understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. Students will learn spatial concepts when analyzing human’s organization of space, landscapes, and the environmental consequences of their decisions from the local to global level. The course will consist of the following major topics, viz., Geography -- its nature and perspectives, population and migration, culture and identity, language and religion, political geography, cities and urban geography, development and industry, and agricultural and rural geography.

AP Macroeconomics is an introductory college-level macroeconomics course. Students cultivate their understanding of the principles that apply to an economic system as a whole by using principles and models to describe economic situations and predict and explain outcomes with graphs, charts, and data as they explore concepts like economic measurements, markets, macroeconomic models, and macroeconomic policies.

AP U.S. Government

This class conducts an in-depth study and analysis of the creation, structure and function of the American government system and political process. The purpose of the class is to provide the students with a better understanding of how the American government operates, and to discuss the civic responsibilities of an informed citizenry, in order to further students’ appreciation of their own role in a democratic system. Some of the main topics of discussion include: The Beginnings of American Government, The Constitution, Congress and the Legislative Branch, The Presidency, The Courts and the Judicial Branch, Political Parties, Elections and Campaigns, Political Participation, Voter Behavior, Interest Groups and Civil Liberties.

AP Comparative Government

The course uses a comparative approach to examine the political structures; policies; and political, economic, and social challenges of six selected countries: China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Students cultivate their understanding of comparative government and politics through analysis of data and text-based sources as they explore topics like power and authority, legitimacy and stability, democratization, internal and external forces, and methods of political analysis. 

These classes are offered on alternating years. 

Grades: 11, 12
How has China’s “Century of Humiliation” (1845-1945) fueled the nation’s ascension to global power status today? In what ways did Japan’s geography influence its development in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries? How has untouchability played out in Indian society and what are its origins? Who makes up
“The Quad” and what role will it play in Pacific regional affairs? What are the cultural and historic roots of Beijing’s genocide of the Uyghur people? Explore these and many other questions as we spend the year studying China, Japan, and India in this Asian Studies class.

Grades: 11, 12

This course is an introduction to the fields of political science, international relations, and military history. It will provide an overview of the disciplines by combining a historical study of its greatest thinkers with an analysis of contemporary issues. Key concepts and topics include: the organization of major political systems; political ideologies; a comparison of the institutions of government: executives, legislatures, and courts; and the international dimensions of politics and economics. These themes provide frameworks to interpret current events and evaluate the nature of domestic and international society. A trimester will be devoted to a survey of military history. We will study the interrelationships of warfare, technology and society in world history. The trimester will focus on such questions as how changing "styles" of warfare, the composition of the military establishment (militias, citizen armies, paid professionals, mercenaries), and the transformations in military technology have impacted upon state and society. Conversely, it will also investigate how political and societal changes have influenced the nature of warfare throughout history.

Conducted as a seminar to encourage debate, analysis, and the exchange of ideas, Honors American History is meant to be challenging - the equivalent of a freshman college course. This one-year course presents a wide scope of American history beginning with the exploration and settlement of North America to the present - with emphasis on, but not limited to, politics, economics, diplomacy, social history, reform movements, art and music, warfare, and intellectual movements. Major emphasis is placed on developing writing skills. An additional main objective is to make extensive use of primary source documents to complement the material presented in the textbook and give a contemporary perspective of events as they unfolded. The course will likewise evaluate the evolution of American historiography throughout the various stages of our history.

Grades 10, 11, 12

Students select their topics in a foundational course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics and issues by analyzing divergent perspectives. Using an inquiry framework, students practice reading and analyzing articles, research studies, and foundational, literary, and philosophical texts; listening to and viewing speeches, broadcasts, and personal accounts; and experiencing artistic works and performances. Students learn to synthesize information from multiple sources, develop their own perspectives in written essays, and design and deliver oral and visual presentations, both individually and as part of a team. Student-generated topics will include material from each of The Hudson School's subject departments and digital literacy.

Grades 10, 11, 12

What is espionage? What are the origins of the DGSE- French Intelligence Agency and how did it influence MI6 and CIA? How does the award-winning French series The Bureau address the ethics of intelligence work? What is “French” about the series? We will start by watching some "morceaux choisis" from the acclaimed French television series The Bureau and then take you on a historical, ethical, cinematographic journey through the world of espionage and clandestine activities. We will investigate the historical origins of covert institutions and see how espionage morphed throughout time. We will study how filmmakers and writers portray this world in their work. Are they being true to reality or are they glorifying destruction and death? We will wonder about "the art of deceit"... and so much more! Our studies will be conducted in both French and English with French language instruction for all students according to language proficiency. Assessment will primarily be project-based individual or group presentations.

Grades: 11, 12
This elective examines the cultures and forces that influenced the development of modern Latin America. Beginning with indigenous civilizations, we analyze patterns of conquest, colonization, independence and factors impacting the evolution of today’s Latin America. We explore the region’s diverse cultures, literature, geography and history. With an interdisciplinary approach, literary texts are read side by side. Literature is examined within the context of its time and place, as students reflect on the many voices and cultures The course includes a strong focus on cultural connections. Students will read representative short stories, novels, poetry, and essays from well-known Latin American writers such De la Cruz, Castellanos, Borges, Cortázar, García Márquez, Rulfo, Allende, Quiroga, and more, covering themes of cultural diversity such as the fantastic, magical realism, social realism, naturalism
and the female discourse. 

Psychology relates to all aspects of human life and addresses the world surrounding us–through advertising, relationships, social culture and so forth.

We explore many diverse topics under the umbrella of psychology throughout this course. Our major topics of interest include: History and Evolution of Psychology, Comparative Study of Theories, an Exploration of Research Methods, Biological Bases for Behavior, Child Development, Theories of Personality, and Psychological Disorders. We use film, art and literature to gain more knowledge about our mental processing and psyche


This year-long course introduces the concepts and practices of personal finance. Students learn how to construct decision matrices which help them organize their research, prioritize their objectives and set sound short and long term financial goals. They learn how to make and keep a budget and how to save wisely. The course also covers the topics of money and banking, interest, cost of ownership, fundamentals of investing, wise use of credit, the basics of insurance, career planning and consumer protection

Grades: 12
Students learn to understand how democratic processes work and how to engage in these processes. Students examine the foundations of our government, the purposes and principles of government, the concepts of power and protection, the U.S. Constitution, and rights and responsibilities outlined by the