History / Social Science
At birth we are all thrust into an alien world—alien because we have no experience of the people, systems, and conventions we will encounter. The study of history is one way of coming to understand the world in which we live. Diverse though they may be, Baylor's history courses all seek to help students learn to negotiate the reality they face every day, whether through discovering how modern events and trends are rooted in the past or by developing the skills needed to succeed in today's complicated world.
History / Social Science Requirement
World History I
World History I is a general introduction to the study of history and to some of the major developments, personalities and events that have shaped the modern world. Topics for study are drawn from across the world during the time frame from the Late Paleolithic to the Renaissance and serve as vehicles for the development and improvement of a wide range of student skills, including critical reading, formal essay writing, group collaboration, and primary document analysis. This year-long course is a requirement for freshmen.
World History II
World History II is a continuation of World History I, covering some of the major developments, personalities and events from across the world during the last 500 years. The focus remains on developing and improving students’ basic academic skills and on illuminating the historical roots of our modern world. This year-long course is a requirement for sophomores.
AP World History
AP World History is a year-long course focused on global history from Neolithic times to the present. Employing primary and secondary materials to study how the modern world is a product of the past, students consider prominent individuals, developments, patterns, and connections across six historical periods and five broad themes. Priorities are the development of analytical thinking skills, including comparison, chronological reasoning, and argumentation, as well as other essential academic skills such as critical reading, expository writing, and self-discipline. Students must take the AP World History Exam at the end of the school year. Admission to this college-level course is open to sophomores as an alternative to World History II and requires departmental approval.
U.S. History is a year-long introduction to American history from colonial times to the present. Course content focuses on the major events and personalities that have created and shaped American political and cultural institutions. In addition, the course seeks to enhance students' responsibility for their studies while cultivating such essential skills as expository writing, note taking, primary document analysis, and class participation. Various student-driven projects and learning activities may be assigned at the discretion of each instructor. Course materials include reading assignments from a variety of online resources as well as digital documents provided by the instructor.
AP US History
AP U.S. History is a year-long survey for self-motivated juniors seeking college credit or advanced standing. Students consider significant individuals, events, developments, and processes in American history, making connections between periods as they follow key themes throughout the year. This course prepares students for college by sharpening their critical reading, expository writing, and analytical thinking skills, with success heavily dependent on self-discipline and academic maturity. Course materials include a summer reading book, a standard college-level textbook, and supplementary readings, especially primary sources. Students must take the national AP U.S. History Exam in May. Enrollment is open to juniors and requires departmental approval.
History Semester Electives
For more about the semester electives program, click here
Americans are still arguing over how their government should work, even though what started as an experiment over 200 years ago is now regarded as the world’s leading democracy. American Government is a one-semester elective which explores the origin, development, and functions of America’s governmental system. With the U.S. Constitution as a starting point, particular topics of study include the division of powers, individual rights and responsibilities, the development of a true democracy, political parties, money and politics, and the role of government in contemporary American social, economic, political, and foreign affairs. Course materials include primary and secondary sources selected from traditional and modern media of every sort.
Knowledge of classical mythology is an invaluable tool for understanding the art and thought of Western civilization, since it provides a vast set of stories and symbols for ancient and modern writers and artists. This course provides an introduction to the major myths of the Greeks and Romans not only as they appear in classical literature and art, but also as they echo through the centuries.
Economics is a one-semester introduction to basic economic literacy. The goal is for students to understand how the American economy works and to interpret the news of the day. Students relate fundamental economic principles to domestic and international events, consider the economic aspects of their own lives (including personal finance), and examine current business practices and problems. The preferred format for the class is the college seminar, and conversations can be wide ranging and challenging. Course materials include a standard economics text and supplementary readings.
Ethics examines fundamental questions of "right" and "wrong," which have challenged human beings throughout history. What makes something “good” or “right”? What is a good or right way to live? How can we know the answers to these and other questions that are basic to our lives? When we differ in our answers, how can we live together with mutual integrity and respect? Why, if at all, does morality matter? These questions and the answers to them form the foundation of this semester-long course. Through fiction, film, biography and texts from across the world and across time, students have an opportunity to examine both their own historical and cultural contexts and those of others who may be quite different. In addition, they have an opportunity to develop their own moral perspective. In the area of “applied ethics,” students select a topic relevant to the course and of personal interest, take steps to act in ways consistent with their moral convictions and reflect upon the learning that results from living out one's moral commitments. [ATHLETES TAKE NOTE: This course no longer fulfills NCAA requirements.]
History of American Law
History of American Law is a semester course centered around the four fundamental components of the American legal system: constitutional law, criminal law, contract law, and tort law. Students examine important United States Supreme Court cases, engage in class discussions, participate in debates, write essays to demonstrate their understanding of ideas developed in class, and pursue independent research topics.
History of Eastern Religions
History of Eastern Religions is a one-semester introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism. Students are challenged to attempt the arguably impossible task of thinking from another's religious perspective. Primary readings include The Bhagavad Gita and Teachings of the Buddha. Requirements include interviews with Hindu and Buddhist practitioners, guest speakers, and discussions concerning the importance of religious literacy in an increasingly connected world.
History of the Modern United States
America enjoys the benefits of constant innovation, political and economic superpower status, and a democratic government. Nevertheless, many Americans believe their civilization is in decline, feel threatened by terrorists, and are alienated by modern politics. How did the country arrive at this juncture? History of the Modern United States is a semester elective which examines the origins of today’s America in cultural and historical developments since 1945. Taking advantage of the abundant documentation available for modern times, including film, we explain the present by examining post-World War II developments in this country, from Silicon Valley to the Internet of Things, from the Cold War to 9/11 to the Islamic State.
History of Rome
History of Rome is a one-semester course centered around the rise and fall of Ancient Rome. Rome existed for over 2100 years, and ruled the western world for much of that time. We study the rise and expansion of Rome during the republic, the development and decline of the Western Roman Empire, and the surviving Eastern Roman Empire through its fall in 1453. Students examine important people and events, engage in class discussions, participate in debates, write essays to demonstrate their understanding of ideas developed in class, and pursue independent research topics.
History of Western Religions
History of Western Religions is a semester course devoted to the origins and fundamental beliefs of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—the three principal religions of the western world. Course topics include important religious leaders, texts, and creeds. Through reading, discussion, and analysis, students seek to identify key similarities and differences among these three religious faiths and to understand how they have contributed to the development of the modern world.
World War II
World War II resulted in at least 50 million deaths and changed the course of history. It laid the technological, political, and economic foundation of the modern era, and it raised serious philosophical questions about human nature and man's capacity for good and evil. This one-semester course is largely video-based, taking advantage of the enormous and growing archive of documentary films on the characters, events, and technological innovations of the war. Students also examine war era propaganda generated by both the Allies and the Axis powers. An important aim of the course is to provide students with a basic understanding of the conflict and of its importance to the world of today.
The Media in the Making of Modern History
What connects yesterday’s “yellow journalism” and the “fake news” epidemic of 2016? How have the media played a role in social movements such as the anti-Vietnam war movement and the Arab Spring of 2011? This hands-on course is a semester-long elective which explores challenging questions about the influence of the media on modern history and culture. Interdisciplinary in nature, it examines history through the lens of sociology, psychology, and media theory. Students use critical reading skills, debate, and media production both to explore past scholars’ work and to formulate their own views on such complex topics as the role of the free press and advertising’s place in society. Activities include remixing a popular advertisement, creating Dadaist art, and a formal research study on Baylor students’ ability to recognize “fake news.” Applying the concept of “twenty percent time,” students work throughout the semester on a related project such as a media-driven campaign for civic engagement or data-driven ethnography.
Year-long History Electives
AP European History
AP European History is a year-long course focused on the politics, society, and culture of Europe from the Renaissance to the present. Primary and secondary sources are used to illustrate the changes experienced by European civilization over the course of 500 years. Students will learn about prominent individuals, movements in art and literature, as well as the main political events and ideologies of these centuries. This course emphasizes the development of critical thinking skills, reading comprehension and analysis, as well as expository writing. In preparing to take the required AP European History exam at the end of the school year, students write essays in various styles and complete assessments designed to facilitate success. Enrollment in this college-level course is open to seniors and requires departmental approval.
AP Human Geography
AP Human Geography is a year-long course focused on identifying, describing, and predicting the patterns of activities associated with human settlement and occupation of the earth. Students use models and case studies to understand patterns of population, migration, language, religion, ethnicity, development, agriculture, industry, services, and city planning. The course focuses on analytical thinking skills, especially deduction, extrapolation, and the recognition of patterns, as well as on practical skills like the ability to write clearly and specifically. In addition to completing the requirements of the course, students must sit for the AP Human Geography exam in May. Admission to this college-level course is open to seniors and requires departmental approval.