The College Prep history program engages students through an integrated approach that emphasizes interconnections between different regions of the world.
By developing an understanding of systems of power and oppression that shape our society, students are empowered with the skills and understandings needed to have agency in their own lives and affect positive change in their communities.

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.

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  • 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 twenty-first 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. Throughout the course students are asked to reflect on how history intersects with their own lived identities and are challenged with the intellectual responsibility of using the past to understand the present.
  • 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 fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, a period of history that has fundamentally shaped our modern world. The semester begins with an article from The 1619 Project, which makes explicit the connections between the curriculum and the present day. The course’s 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. Indigienous primary source materials are frequently used to highlight the limitations of more euro-centric material. 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 US 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 twentieth century and emphasizing issues of race, immigration, and constitutionalism. The United States is explored through a wide range of sources, essays by noteworthy historians, biographical sketches of pivotal figures, simulations of key events, and debates over controversial issues. The curriculum includes primary and secondary sources that elevate and focus on the voices of Black, indigenous, and other people of color to challenge and decenter arguments and histories that privilege white/European perspectives. 

    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 twentieth 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 US History, they build one.

the history program

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  • 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.
  • American Government and Politics

    The current American political scene is fractious and polarized. Rare is the news out of Washington that does not feature the words “dysfunction,” “impasse,” or “crisis.” What are they fighting about? Is the system broken, or is it supposed to work this way? Is someone representing you and your beliefs? If not, what options do you have to sway policy and politics towards your vision of a fair and just society? These are a few of the core questions that inform this study of American politics and government. This course emphasizes voting behavior as well as national political campaigns and elections, providing students with an opportunity to develop and examine theories through case studies and experiments.
  • 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.
  • 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 importance of Native-American perspectives in California. Topics are explored through class discussion, readings, projects, writing assignments, and off-campus field trips.
  • Crossing Over: A History of the United States/Mexico Border

    For many years after the Mexican-American War, the international boundary between the United States and Mexico was, literally, a line in the sand where people moved freely back and forth. No fences. No Border Patrol. No detention centers. When the first fences were finally erected by the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, they were built to keep cattle with flea-borne diseases in Mexico from crossing over. How did we start here and end up with today's highly militarized border? This course begins in the nineteenth-century American Southwest; rough cattle ranchers and fierce Apache warriors challenge the international boundary in Rachel St. John’s Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S. - Mexico Border. Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil's Highway traces the fate of a group of determined immigrants from Mexico who risk their lives walking across the Arizona desert. The documentary Which Way Home is about a group of plucky teenagers from Mexico and Central America who ride atop the famed freight trains called La Bestia (the beast) for a grueling 2,000 miles. At the end of the course, students select a theme they are passionate about to design and create a podcast.
  • 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 twenty-first century, the Great Recession and the COVID-19 crisis.
  • 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.
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  • Twentieth-Century Black Society and Culture

    Using primary sources (dance, newspapers, philosophy, film, and music) and scholarly analysis, this course explores fundamental questions about identity and social conditions across time and place within Black life, politics, and culture in the twentieth century. Who are African Americans? What is the Black diaspora? How have African-descended people shaped the modern world and resisted the confines of white supremacy? In addition to the experiences of Black people in the United States, the creation of a transnational Black identity is explored through the experiences of Black people in West Africa, South Africa, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. Class analysis is rooted in the fact that racial identity is formed and operates at the intersections of other identities, such as gender, sexuality, and class.
  • US 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 include the rights of the accused, abortion, free speech, immigration, and the war on terror. Readings from Khiara Bridges and Kimberlé Crenshaw challenge the law’s propensity to categorize people in ways that silo marginalized groups and help students think about how legal advocacy might operate from a more intersectional framework. The allocation of decision-making authority among government institutions is also explored, 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.

taking risks in history class

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  • Photo of Daniel Song

    Daniel Song 

    Enseignant d'histoire
    510-652-0111 x235
  • Photo of Grace Allen

    Grace Allen 

    Enseignant d'histoire
    510.652.0111 x235
  • Photo of Enver Casimir

    Enver Casimir 

    Enseignant d'histoire
    510.652.0111 x235
  • Photo of Jason Chang

    Jason Chang 

    Enseignant d'histoire
    510-652-0111 x235
  • Photo of Leah Fernandez

    Leah Fernandez  

    Enseignant d'histoire
    510-652-0111 x235
  • Photo of Katherine Gumbert

    Katherine Gumbert 

    Enseignant d'histoire
    510-652-0111 x235
  • Photo of Johanna Lanner-Cusin

    Johanna Lanner-Cusin 99

    Dean of Faculty / History Teacher
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  • Photo of Preston Tucker

    Preston Tucker 

    Director Of Curriculum Innovation And Research / History Teacher
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