History & Social Studies

The history and social studies faculty at Wayland Academy assist students in studying topics as seemingly disparate as economics and world history. It is evident in terms of content that these subjects are quite different and have their own peculiar demands. The faculty in this department offer electives about which they are passionate (such as the British Isles and Sub-Saharan Africa) to bolster the traditional staples of a standard history curriculum. 

History and Social Studies Courses


World Civilizations CP

This course is open to freshman only and introduces the student to societies from prehistory to the early medieval period. The first semester focuses on the emergence of the earliest river valley civilizations. The second semester examines cultures in the classical period. Special attention is given to the rise of political systems, economic activity, religious beliefs, and social division within these societies.

United States History CP

This course is a full year course on the history of the United States from the colonial period to the present day. The course will examine the political, economic, religious, social and geographic relationship of the events that have impacted the development of the nation. Students will view documentaries and read primary documents to supplement the material in the text. Students will also keep up with current events through the Upfront magazine.

Advanced Placement United States History

This course is a full year comprehensive study of the history of the United States. The course examines the political, economic, religious, social, intellectual, artistic and geographic relationship of events that have impacted the development of the nation. Students will view movies and documentaries and read primary and secondary documents to enhance and supplement the material in the text. In addition to acquiring knowledge, there will be an emphasis on analyzing and synthesizing data, as well as writing cohesive essays. Consent of the instructor is a prerequisite for this course.

European History CP

This course provides an overview of European history from the Renaissance to the present day. Combining an analysis of political, economic, religious, social, intellectual, and cultural history, the class presents the major people, events, and ideas of modern European history. Students are introduced to all of the important eras in modern European history, with an emphasis on what connects each era to the one preceding and the one following it. While each major country’s history is examined for its own internal narrative, the class also looks at how certain themes (like the Reformation, Liberalism, and Socialism) are modified across the continent.

Music History CP

This course may be selected with instructor consent as an academic class. This class focuses on Ancient Music through Baroque Music in the first semester, and Classical Music through Modern Music in the second semester. Composers, musical styles and techniques, the development of instruments, and the correlation between the musical world and the cultures and historical developments of each period are the focus for the class. Students are expected to take quizzes and exams on the material presented, as well as complete several papers and/or projects throughout the year. The first semester of study is a prerequisite for the second semester.

Advanced Placement European History

This course covers the same time period as the CP class (the Renaissance to the present), but at a much more vigorous level. Each subject is covered in less time, but with more detail. Students are expected to master the facts from the reading on their own while reserving class time for the discussion of themes, causation, and comparison. Reading assignments come not only from the textbook, but from other scholarly works as well. Multiple primary sources are also assigned to accustom the students to working with documentary evidence. The AP course is more writing-intensive as the students prepare to sit for the exam in early May. Consent of the instructor is a prerequisite for this course.

Advanced Placement US Government and Politics (Fall Semester)

This semester course introduces students to key political ideas, institutions, policies, interactions, roles, and behaviors that characterize the political culture of the United States. The course examines politically significant concepts and themes. Prerequisite: US History credit and consent of instructor.

Advanced Placement Seminar

This course is a foundational course that engages junior and senior 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 literacy and philosophical texts. Consent of the instructor is a prerequisite for this course.

Medieval European History CP

This course is designed to introduce the students to the major themes and events of western European history between the fifth and the fifteenth centuries. The disintegration of the Roman world, the Carolingian Empire, the growing power of the Church, and the emergence of the new states of England, France, and the Holy Roman Empire form the overarching narrative of the course. While primarily a political history course, the class also incorporates a good deal of religious material as well. Social, economic, and cultural aspects of the Middle Ages are also woven into the syllabus. Primary sources and other supplemental readings highlight certain aspects of medieval life and allow the students to delve more deeply into the era.

Current World Issues CP

This Course is designed to challenge the students to think about the topics and issues in the news today, both domestically and globally. Historical background, ideologies, and motivations are all discussed in an attempt to look at each issue from multiple vantage points. Students are encouraged to make informed decisions about these issues, but are also challenged to think about new perspectives. They must also defend their point of view during class discussion – offering a rationale for their opinions. While the class may not discover the solution to all of today’s problems, the students should learn to analyze issues critically and understand the interlinking nature of modern society.

Advanced Placement Macroeconomics

This course begins with learning the rudiments of scarcity, opportunity costs, and the applications of supply and demand. After that students are introduced to the components of Gross Domestic Product and how that measures the productivity of a nation. Several weeks explore the relation of unemployment and inflation and the potential role that governments can play to help control them. Students also learn the complexities of the banking system and the role of the FED. International trade is studied and shows the benefits and drawbacks of free trade and the effects of the currency markets. The year finishes with case studies of actual short run economic fluctuations in recent history and how governments reacted to them. Algebra 2 credit and consent of instructor is a prerequisite for this class.

Comparative Religion– Spring Semester

This course objectively addresses both the history and doctrine of the world’s great religions.  Emphasis is placed on the myths, sacred texts, rituals, and beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Sub-Saharan Africa: 1500-Present– Fall Semester

Africa is a continent that is regularly portrayed as having a single narrative, often one that is seen as both distant and dysfunctional. This course will work to debunk this myth by studying the historical and global roots of key issues facing Sub-Saharan African cultures today. Our class will focus on case studies and explore how each scenario came from a complex but specific social, historical, and economic context.

Cultural Anthropology– Spring Semester

Cultural Anthropology provides a framework for students to learn about the ever increasing globalization of the world they live in. The goal of this course is to expose students to how and why we study cultures and compare and contrast with their own culture and the Wayland community culture. Through the study of how families, kinship, marriage, world view/beliefs, financial exchange are similar and different around the world — students will begin to understand how and why globalization came about and the benefits and challenges it produces.

Change in the World – Spring Semester

This course is a three part course that explores how individuals and movements can impact society for the better. One major component of the course will be a series of short case studies on various historical movements and figures that made a major impact on their communities. In our studies we will focus not only on the individuals that were the driving forces behind change, but also the tactics used and societal context under which these movements occurred. Next, we will explore how people are going about making change in our world today and study how these movements are both related and very different from the ones of the past. Finally there will be a service learning component in which students will be expected to actively create change in their own community.

Not offered this semester, but returning soon...

Constitutional Law – Fall Semester

This course will explore the formation of the US Constitution and the principles that shaped it, as well as the role the Supreme Court has had in interpreting it. In particular, we will focus on the cases that most affect the rights and responsibilities of young people. Students will analyze cases and learn how to brief them. They will apply their knowledge in mock trials and write their own opinions on a case currently being argued before the Supreme Court.

Advanced Placement Microeconomics

This course begins with an overview of key economic terms.  From there students receive a thorough analysis of the supply and demand model.  After that we review the three types of elasticity and how they relate to the supply and demand for various goods.  This is followed by studying the relationship between externalities, taxes, and quotas.  The Second Semester spends a great deal of time analyzing the four major market types: Perfect Competition, Monopoly, Oligopoly, and Monopolistic Competition.  The remaining topics in the course touch on current economic issues like earnings discrimination, income inequality, and poverty. Throughout the course, the textbook is supplemented by examples of current news events and the economic impact that they have Algebra 2 credit and consent of instructor is a prerequisite for this class.

A History of the British Isles I and II CP

This course offers a survey of British history from the prehistoric era to the present day. The first semester covers from prehistory to the Revolution of 1688, while the second semester covers events from 1688 to today. Each semester course can stand alone as an elective, but they should be taken in succession to gain the greatest benefit. While much of the narrative focuses on the history of England (the largest and most powerful of the regions), the histories of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are also incorporated. Major individuals, themes, and events are all covered to provide the student with a solid understanding of the fundamentals of British history.