Social Studies

Department Chair: Mr. Winthrop Baylies

Throughout history all cultures and nations have faced the same basic questions about how to organize themselves socially, politically and economically. These decisions are in turn affected by the role played by geography, religion, invasion, and many other cultural factors. All Social Studies courses at Keio address these questions by challenging students to go beyond memorizing information: to understand material in a way that encourages students to make connections between time and place, between cause and effect, and to be able to think critically about the nature of tradeoffs faced in all societies.

Course Sequence

All Keio students arriving in the ninth grade take World Geography. Students in the 10th grade simultaneously take World History, taught by in English, and Ancient Japanese History, taught in Japanese. (This makes 10th grade a truly bilingual and bicultural year in Social Studies courses.) All 11th grade students must take two English-based Social Studies courses: U.S. History and Government, and Cultural Studies. In the 12th grade, all students are required to take Modern Japanese History, taught in Japanese. In addition, all 12th grade students who are non-science majors must also choose from one of three English-based courses: Advanced Cultural Studies, Political Thought (Regular or Honors sections), or Economics and Business.

Preparation for higher education

Social Studies courses are designed to prepare our students to pursue interests in one of five Keio University undergraduate faculties:

  • Faculty of Law (Politics)
  • Faculty of Law (Law)
  • Faculty of Economics
  • Faculty of Business and Commerce
  • Faculty of Policy Management

Global Geography 9

The goal of this course is to provide students with an introductory understanding of the geography and basic characteristics of various countries. The students study geography through the use of the Five Themes of Geography: location, place, movement, human-environment interaction, and region. In using these themes, the emphasis of the course focuses not only on location, but also on the economics, politics, culture, religion, and specific issues of each country or region. From this course students will gain a foundation upon which future Politics, History, Cultural Studies, and Economics courses can build upon.

World History 10

This is a foundation course designed to start or enhance a lifelong study and love of history. The goal of this course is to provide students with an introductory understanding of the development of key civilizations, regions, and countries. Emphasis is placed on the idea of civilization or nation building and on its economic, social, and political development. Students learn to understand major historical themes ranging from but not limited to culture and culture clash, revolution, power and authority, human rights, nationalism, economics, democracy and religion that can later be applied to their future areas of study. This World History course has both ancient and modern history components. The broad nature of the course focuses on Western History, but also explores the growth of civilizations in Asia. The ability to compare and contrast is emphasized along with an emphasis on developing higher order thinking skills.

Ancient Japanese History 10

This course provides students with a basic understanding of Japanese History from pre-history to the end of the Edo era. Japanese culture and thought are investigated through the characteristics of the society, events, and issues of each period. A key goal is to understand the flow of events leading up to Japan's modernization. In addition, the course reviews the social characteristics of the countries of Asia, analyzes Japan's relationships with other Asian and European countries, and compares the culture of Japan with other cultures around the world.

Cultural (Area) Studies 11

Cultural Studies is designed to allow students to develop their knowledge of different regions and cultures around the world, and to gain a richer understanding of the diverse cultural traditions in today's global society. The 1st quarter focuses on how factors ranging from empire to natural resources to Chinese philosophy have shaped modern China. The 2nd quarter focuses on India, with a special emphasis on the traditional beliefs of the people of India. The 3rd quarter focuses on the significant issues facing Middle Eastern nations today: religion, politics, war, natural resources and opposing factions. The 4th quarter covers both Latin America and Africa, with comparisons made between religion, political unrest, economic concerns and the import and export of goods.

United States Government & History 11

A major goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of democratic institutions and practices -- including the rights and obligations of individual citizens within the democratic political process/system. A second goal is to provide an understanding of the unique historical, political and social experience of the United States of America. Major themes in this course include how a healthy democracy confronts and solves its problems, and how the definition of equality has been expanded over time to embrace America's many minority voices. The government units focus on the principles of democracy and on the three branches of government: the judicial, executive, and the legislative branches. The history units offer a broad review of the United States from the age of Christopher Columbus to the present.

Advanced Cultural (Area) Studies Research 12

This course covers four specific themes: Globalization, Sustainability, Energy and Climate Change, and Media and Communications. The goal is to develop an understanding of how politics and economics can combine with factors such as technology and humanitarianism to drive these rapidly changing issues. Globalization, for example, focuses on topics ranging from the impact on workers' wages to globalization's effect on specific industries such as the car industry. The unit on Sustainability covers topics such as agriculture and livestock, aquaculture, water supplies, waste disposal, and recycling. Throughout, this course uses various methods of teaching, including visual and verbal prompts, technology-based lessons, group work, projects, debates and discussions, short lectures, and interactive activities in order to develop higher level thinking skills.

Political Thought 12 (Regular and Honors sections)

Students study the development and implementation of political ideas throughout history. Students also consider how economics, religion, nationalism, conflict and war, psychology, sociology, and anthropology influence political systems and societies. The works of thinkers such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, Skinner - and many others - are studied. Students also study current events in this course and apply concepts learned in this course to help them understand problems facing the world today and possible solutions to them. Finally, students study the United Nations and other international organizations, and review the successes and failures of these organizations in trying to build a more peaceful world and improve life for the world's people.

Economics & Business 12

This course teaches the basics of both micro- and macroeconomics. The class also covers the three fundamental tasks of business: how to make, finance and sell something at a profit. The first half of the year focuses on microeconomic topics such as supply and demand, labor, and market structure, while also introducing students to stocks and bonds, and requiring students to trade in a nationwide stock market simulation game. The second half is devoted to macroeconomic challenges such as deflation and income inequality, and to the role of central banks and monetary policy. Selected students visit the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In addition, students also study globalization, and compare different economic systems used in Europe and Asia. Comparisons between the U.S., Japan and China are emphasized throughout the course.

Modern Japanese History 12

This course is a continuation of the 10th grade Japanese History course and focuses on Japan from the Meiji Restoration to the present. The goal is to understand both the process and the result of the country's rapid modernization and economic development, and to be better prepared for the future of the nation by learning the lessons of its history. Students learn about what has changed before and after the Restoration. Students also come to understand why traditional Japan has changed so rapidly. The course is also intended to understand problems of contemporary Japanese society, and the issues regarding the construction of the Japanese government. Finally, by combining both historical facts and the decision-making process of institutions, the students come to better understand current issues in relation to the reactions toward Japan by the world.

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