Social Science Courses

Current Issues and US Government

This year long course is designed to give an overview of the structure and function of the United States government and how citizens interact with the government through various means of political participation. Topics covered will include founder’s intent, elections, the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Developing writing and critical thinking skills to prepare students for later Advanced Placement social science courses is also stressed.  A critical look at public policy choices facing the nation and world is also integrated into this study of government and politics. Current issues of high interest and relevance will be researched and analyzed with the opportunity to formulate and support positions both through writing and various types of presentation. This U.S. Government course satisfies both the state and district high school graduation requirements.

World History: People and Places

This course is a focused study of the 19th Century – Present using the AP Human Geography Curriculum and is for incoming 9th grade students. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the systematic study of historical patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface. Students will employ spatial concepts and a landscape analysis to examine human social organization and its environmental consequences. You will also learn about the methods and tools geographers and historians use in their science and practice. This course provides students with an opportunity to develop skill such as, but not limited to, interpreting primary sources, developing academic vocabulary related to topics and eras studied, making connections between history and through additional resources and activities provided by instructor. The course includes the AP Human Geography topics of: growth and spread of human populations, development and spread of culture, effects of the environment on political organization, agricultural vs. urban land use, economic development in the modern world, development of corporations, capitalism, communism, economic opportunities, and city and rural development. The pedagogy for this course will include lectures as well as extensive discussions, projects, and other unique activities that combine historical and modern phenomena. For example, students will be assigned a country to research throughout the year and will apply content from the course to the development of their given country. Students will also study the historical development of the city of Des Moines and will be assigned a project on Urban Design/Redevelopment.

College AP US History

This course covers the College Board’s curriculum requirements for AP US History and the State of Iowa US History graduation requirements. Students will be prepared for success on the AP exam. It is requested, but not required, that students have some experience in rigorous coursework, such as the World History People and Places course. This course is also aligned with Central Academy’s American Literature course for sophomores. This cross curricular alignment greatly assists students in mastering course content because students analyze literature at the same time the historical event is studied. Students in this course go beyond the AP curricula not only with mastering DMACC competencies, but also in completing a research based project. This project can take many forms but utilizes evidence gathering, interviews, forming annotated bibliographies and defending research orally. Local and national historians are brought into the classroom so students can meet and understand the professional historian’s work. Local connections with the Salisbury House, Grandview University, the Jordan House and Simpson College assist with this aspect. Students learn history exists outside of the classroom as well by experiencing a variety of field trips to the State Historical Museum, the Soldiers & Sailors monument, the Truman Museum and the National WWI Museum. Students write, think, defend ideas and act as historians every day. Students analyze primary sources, create DBQ’s complete weekly presentations, lead debates and role play historical leaders.

College AP World History

This is a course of study equivalent to an introductory college course in world history.  The AP World History course is designed to develop greater understanding of the evolution of global processes, contacts, and interaction with different types of human societies.  The course highlights the nature of changes in international frameworks and their causes and consequences, as well as comparisons among major societies.  Knowledge of developments that illustrate major themes and relationships between major civilizations in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas is expected.

College AP European History

This course surveys European history from 1450 to the present. Although organized chronologically, the following major themes are investigated: the evolution of democratic and capitalistic systems; social history; women’s studies; conflict resolution; philosophy; the fine arts; and the roles of religion, science, and technology in European society. Skills stressed include formal essay writing, critical thinking, working with primary and secondary sources, and reading college level materials for comprehension and analysis.