Humanities

The Humanities Department occupies a central role in fulfilling the school's mission of fostering critical understanding across cultures, and supporting an international perspective on the world, by providing students with the skills and knowledge to understand the world that they will soon inherit.

We offer courses in History, Geography, Social Science, Economics, Psychology and Philosophy, in both French and English. Students develop the important skills of critical analysis of sources of information, analytical writing, and research. 

Grade 9

INTERNATIONAL TRACK

HISTORY-GEOGRAPHY

[4 hours per week]

This course is an introduction to United States History and Government, from the colonial period to the post WWI period. The course content includes, though is not limited to, the following major topics as well as periodic relevant current events and issues: (1) History: The Gold Rush, Manifest Destiny, Westward expansion, Native Americans, growth of a nation, involvement in international affairs as the new superpower; (2) Minority Rights in a Democracy and Institutional Reform, with a particular focus on women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, Native American rights, Japanese Internment, the Civil Rights Movement and the Red Scare/McCarthyism, and; (3) Geography: the geography of fresh water. 

 

Assessment competencies:
Demonstrates the acquisition of knowledge of the discipline
Writes concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
Participates actively and thoughtfully
Evaluates and interprets sources critically 

Standards alignment: School defined
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Eunice GillanHead of Humanities



FRENCH TRACK

HISTOIRE-GÉOGRAPHIE
[4 hours per week]
The Grade 9 Brevet class is the culmination of  what, in France, is the four-year French Middle School experience. The course consists of the following integrated history and geography topics: 1914–1945 wars, democracies and totalitarianism; geography of French territory and European Union; France; civics and government.

Assessment competencies:
Demonstrates the acquisition of knowledge of the discipline
Writes concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
Participates actively and thoughtfully
Evaluates and interprets sources critically 

Standards alignment: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities and Gregory VerdolHistory and Geography teacher
 

 

Grade 10

INTERNATIONAL TRACK

HISTORY-GEOGRAPHY
[4 hours per week]
This course starts with an introduction to European History in the twentieth century, examining the factors leading to Hitler’s rise to power, as well as the wider context that led to the Second World War, in preparation for the International Baccalaureate program.  Students also study the key features of revolutions, comparing and contrasting prominent revolutions that have happened throughout history.  In addition, students complete two Geography units on Globalization and Urbanization.

Assessment competencies:
Demonstrates the acquisition of knowledge of the discipline
Writes concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
Participates actively and thoughtfully
Evaluates and interprets sources critically 

Standards alignment: School defined
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities
 

 

FRENCH TRACK

HISTOIRE-GÉOGRAPHIE

[4 hours per week]

The history component focuses on six major themes, each of which have been chosen to allow our students to better understand how the world in which we live has developed. These six topics, presented through political, religious, and cultural perspectives, permit students to comprehend European history at a time when trends towards globalization co-exist with an individual’s or a society’s identification with regional or ethnic goals.

Past: The citizen and the city of Athens in the fifth century BC
Present: How does one become a citizen? What is the current definition of a citizen?

Past: Birth and diffusion of Christianity
Present: What role do Christian sects play in our society?

Past: The Mediterranean Basin in the 12th century: the crossroads of three civilizations
Present: How do we view other civilizations?

Past: Humanism and the Renaissance
Present: In what sense has there been a communication explosion?

Past: Age of Revolution
Present: How are the ideals of 1789 viewed in the world today?

Past: Europe between the Restoration and Revolution (1815 –1850)
Present: What is the place of the nation-state in Europe?

The Geography component examines many of the same questions that face humankind today. Why and how have we created so many diverse environments, such a multitude of complex relationships with specific geographies and climates, with fresh and salt water, and with plants and animals? What is the role of each individual, and of each ethnic, political and economic group, as we search for a better balance between humans and the environment? How do our choices impact the desire to achieve harmony between ethnic, political, and economic groups?

Civic Education 
  • What is citizenship?
  • Public civility and incivility
  • Public civility and the melting pot
  • Citizenship and worker’s rights

    Assessment competencies:
    Demonstrates the acquisition of knowledge of the discipline
    Writes concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
    Participates actively and thoughtfully
    Evaluates and interprets sources critically 

    Standards alignment: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale
    Updated: August 2016

    Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities and Jean-Pierre-NagyHistory and Geography teacher
      

 

SCIENCES ECONOMIQUES ET SOCIALES
[2 hours per week]
The curriculum of Economics taught in French in Grade 10 is the foundation for the Economics and Social Sciences (ES) section of the French Baccalaureate. The following introductory concepts are featured:

  • Humans live in organized societies: family, active population, social organizations.
  • Humans consume: consumption and revenues, consumption and ways of life.
  • Humans produce: the notion of enterprise, company, administration, the factors of production, human resources and work organization, added value and profit.

Assessment Competencies:
Acquérir et utiliser correctement les notions de SES/Demonstrates the acquisition of a knowledge of economics
Argumenter de manière précise et pertinente/Write concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
Gérer efficacement le temps et être actif en classe/Manages time effectively and is actively engaged in class
Comprendre, interpréter et critiquer différents documents/Evaluates and interprets a variety of sources accurately and critically

Standards alignment: Ministère de l’Éducation nationale
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities

Grades 11 & 12

INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE

IB COURSE DOCUMENTS

Group 3 Humanities Course Choices 
Group 6 Economics Topics 

THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE (TOK)

[Two years, 2 hours per week]
The two-year Theory of Knowledge course aims to help students critically integrate the diverse fields of study they have been engaged in for their entire scholastic careers. Indeed, TOK is seen as the conceptual center of the IB six-subject hexagon. Though not a text-based philosophy course, TOK is best described as an investigation into how we know what we know. By looking through the lenses of ethics, mathematics, science, history, reason, art, etc, students are encouraged to see the ultimate act of integration that is human knowledge. At least one paper (1,200-1,600 words) on a prescribed topic and one oral presentation are required.
Sample questions addressed in class include:

  • How are knowledge claims justified? Are the following types of justification all equally convincing: intuition, perception, evidence, reasoning, memory, authority, group consensus, and divine revelation?
  • Are the Arts a kind of knowledge, or are they a means of expressing knowledge? If the latter, what knowledge might they express?
  • What does calling mathematics a language mean? Does mathematics function in the same way as our daily written and spoken language?
  • Is it possible to think without language? How does language extend, direct, or even limit knowledge?
  • Does living a moral life matter?

  • Assessment competencies:
  • Knowledge Questions recognized and understood
  • Analysis and counter claims show critical reflection
  • Links and comparisons are made between different Ways of Knowing
  • Writing is structured, clear and logically coherent

    Standards alignment: International Baccalaureate Organization
    Updated: August 2016
    Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities and Andrew Brown, TOK teacher
     

IB HISTORY SL

[Two years, 4 hours per week]

Students examine the rise to power of three single party states: Hitler, Mussolini and Mao.
Comparisons and contrasts are made on their maintenance of power, as well as their domestic and foreign policies.  A source-based unit is completed on the foreign policies of Germany, Italy and Japan in the inter-war period and the course finishes with a detailed examination of the Cold War.  Students are also required to complete a Historical Investigation on a topic of their choice.

Assessment competencies:
Demonstrates the acquisition of knowledge of the discipline
Writes concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
Participates actively and thoughtfully
Evaluates and interprets sources critically

Standards alignment: International Baccalaureate Organization
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities and Scott Paton, History teacher
 



IB HISTORY SL/HL

[Two years, 5 hours per week]
Higher Level history students follow the core Standard Level program. In addition, they must study a regional option, which is examined separately. This exam paper consists of an extensive list of challenging, thematic questions. Students currently study the “Aspects of the History of Europe and the Middle East option” (including Russia/USSR), which includes a large number of 19th and 20th century topics, as well as another region (modern China) as part of the IB international approach.

The core IB history program builds on the curricula of Grades 9 and 10. The two-year program focuses on 20th century US and world history. The importance of dealing critically with multiple, primary, and secondary sources is fundamental to IB methodology. The first paper of the final examination addresses documentary sources including written, diagrammatic or pictorial evidence. A thorough grounding of the historical context of prescribed subjects (based on authoritative texts) is also essential.

All IB history students must complete an individual study on a historical topic chosen in partnership with the class teacher. Independent research, historiography, and format are major criteria for assessment. Due to its strong emphasis on depth and analysis, the IB does not require covering all of these topics.
Core topics:
  • Peacemaking, peacekeeping, international relations 1918-36
  • The Arab-Israeli conflict 1945-79
  • Communism in crisis 1976-89
  • Causes, practices and effect of wars
  • Democratic states, challenges and responses
  • Origins and development of authoritarian and single-party states
  • Nationalist and independence movements in Africa and Asia, and post-1945
  • Central and European states
  • The Cold War


Assessment competencies:
Demonstrates the acquisition of knowledge of the discipline
Writes concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
Participates actively and thoughtfully
Evaluates and interprets sources critically

Standards alignment: International Baccalaureate Organization
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities and Scott Paton, History teacher

  

IB GEOGRAPHY SL/HL
[Two years, 5 hours per week]
Geography is concerned with place. Understanding the nature and causes of a real differentiation on the global surface has been the geographer’s task since people first noticed differences between places. Through geography we seek to understand these differences in patterns of human distribution, interrelationships between human society and the physical environment, people’s use of the Earth in time and space, and how these differences are related to people’s cultures and economies. The aims of the Diploma Program geography course are to enable students to:
  • Develop a global perspective and a sense of world interdependence
  • Develop an understanding of the interrelationship between people, place and the environment.
  • Develop a concern for the quality of the environment, and an understanding of the need to plan and manage for present and future generations
  • Appreciate the relevance of geography in analyzing contemporary world issues, and develop and modify values and attitudes in relation to geographical problems and issues
  • Recognize the need for social justice, equality and respect for others; appreciate diversity; and combat bias, prejudice and stereotyping.

Develop an appreciation of the range of geographical methodologies and apply appropriate techniques of inquiry.


Assessment competencies:
Participates actively and thoughtfully
Writes concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
Demonstrates the acquisition of geographical knowledge and required skills
Demonstrates the ability to process, analyze and evaluate geographical data

Standards alignment: International Baccalaureate Organization
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities


IB PSYCHOLOGY SL/HL
[Two years, 5 hours per week]
The IB Psychology course covers the biological, cognitive and socio-cultural dimensions of human behavior, introduces students to the various research methods used in psychology, and requires students to think critically and ethically about both. Lessons are always research-based, and in-class experiments as well as student presentations are the main teaching methods. For the internally assessed part of their final exam, IB Psychology students have to design, conduct and analyze an experiment. Finally, Higher Level students have two additional units. The first one, “abnormal psychology”, exposes them to the various explanations, diagnostic tools, treatments and therapies of mental disorders, with a focus on affective disorders (Major Depression) and eating disorders (Bulimia Nervosa), and the second one helps them discover the specificities of “qualitative research” methods (observational studies, interviews, etc.). 


Assessment competencies:
Is active and proficient in class
Manages time and workload effectively
Understands psychological concepts
Research methodology and analysis
Essay writing, including critical thinking

Standards alignment: International Baccalaureate Organization
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Jeremie Rostan, Humanities Teacher

 

 

IB ECONOMICS SL/HL
[Two years, 5 hours per week]
The two-year IB Economics program covers four areas:
  • Resources and Markets (microeconomics)
  • National Income Analysis (macroeconomics)
  • International Trade
  • Development Economics
The course aims to build disciplined skills of economic reasoning, an ability to apply tools of economic analysis to past and contemporary situations and data, and provides students with international perspectives on the diversity of economic realities.
 
Topics covered in the SL course include: supply and demand analysis, characteristics of planned and market economies, considerations of market failures, the estimation of national income, analysis of employment and prices, the study of fiscal and monetary policies, the theory of comparative advantage, protectionism and trading blocs, sources and barriers to economic development. Students are expected to complete a portfolio of five commentaries on extracts from news media over the course of their two-year program.

In addition to the topics covered at Standard Level, Higher Level students study the effects of taxes and subsidies, pricing and output decisions of firms under perfectly competitive markets, monopoly, and oligopoly. Competing theories of economic and currency management are also covered. Students are expected to complete a portfolio of eight commentaries on extracts from news media over the course of their two-year program.


Assessment competencies:
Understands and uses economic terminology appropriately
Perceives that economics variables are interrelated and is able to predict possible consequences arising from changing variables
Applies the tools of economic analysis to past and contemporary situations and data in a rational, unbiased fashion and presenting such analysis clearly and logically
Appreciates the interdependence of countries and develops an awareness of other cultures, economies and economic systems

Standards alignment: International Baccalaureate Organization
Updated: August 2016
Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities

 
IB INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN A GLOBAL SOCIETY SL
IB BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT HL
 
IB PHILOSOPHY SL


FRENCH TRACK
 
HISTOIRE-GÉOGRAPHIE — Première (Grade 11)

[4 hours per week]

History Component
This part of the program consists in case-studies to understand the 20th century, in five basic stages.

Part I: Economic Growth, Globalization and Social Change since the mid-19th Century.
Part II: Wars in the XX century including the following themes: First and Second World War, Cold War and new conflicts, the League of Nations and the United Nations.
Part III: A Century of Totalitarianism including Rise, Consolidation and End of Totalitarian Regimes.
Part IV: Colonization and Decolonization Since the End of the 19th Century.
Part V: The French and Their Republic Since the 1880s including topics as political system and constitution, social changes, France during World War II.

Geography component
This part of the program examines the territorial dynamics of France and European Union in Globalization in four basic stages.

Part I: The regional territories as components of french organization of territory.
Part II: Management and Development of the French Territory.
Part III: The EU, Territorial Dynamics and Territorial Development.
Part IV: France and Europe in a globalized world.

HISTOIRE-GÉOGRAPHIE
— Terminale (Grade 12) 
This program offers a historical and geographical perspective of today's world.

History component :
Part I : The Relationship of Societies to their Past
Part II : Ideologies, Opinions and Beliefs Since the End of the 19th Century in Europe
Part III : World Powers and International Tensions since 1918 (United-States of America, China and Middle-East)
Part IV: From Local to Global Scale Governance (France, European Union, World)

Geography component 
Part I : Maps, a tool to Read a Complex World
Part II : Dynamics of Globalization (Processes, Actors, Territories, Debates)
Part III : Geographical Dynamics at a Continental/Regional Scale (Americas, Africa, East and South Asia)


Connaissances historiques:

Capacité à produire une argumentation concise, appropriée et riche
Participe activement et intelligemment
Evalue et interprète de façon critique les sources


Standards alignment:
 
Ministère de l’Éducation nationale

Updated: August 2016

Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities and Gregory VerdolHistory and Geography teacher
  


HISTOIRE AMERICAINE - OPTION INTERNATIONALE
[4 hours per week]


PHILOSOPHIE ES/S

[Grade 12 only, 4 hours]

In Grade 12, Philosophy is a core component of both the “S” and “ES” French track sections. This class allows students to sharpen their critical thinking skills through an exploration of the major issues usually covered in a college-level introductory class. At the standard level, both S and ES students are thus invited to reflect on a variety of topics ranging from metaphysics, epistemology, and esthetics, to political philosophy, ethics, and religion. At the higher level, ES students cover important additional topics, such as linguistics or the philosophy of history.

Although not a class on the history of thought, this course does introduce students to the thinking of both traditional and modern-day philosophers—and one particularly, who they study in great depth, through the first-hand reading of one of his writings.

In terms of skills, students are expected, by the end of the year, to be able to write, in four hours, a “dissertation” on a philosophical prompt, on a detailed and rigorous commentary of a philosophical text.

En terminale, la philosophie est au coeur des deux sections offertes au lycée (S et ES.) Cette classe permet aux élèves d'aiguiser leur esprit critique à travers l'exploration des principales questions ordinairement abordées dans un cours d'introduction à l'université. Les élèves de S et de ES sont ainsi invités à réfléchir à une diversité de sujets allant de la métaphysique, l'epistémologie, et l'esthétique, à la philosophie politique, la morale, ou encore la religion. Les élèves de ES ont en outre une heure supplémentaire au cours de laquelle ils se concentrent sur des notions telle que le langage ou encore l'Histoire.

Bien que cette classe ne soit pas un cours d'histoire de la pensée, les élèves sont tout de même introduits à la pensée d'auteurs majeurs, traditionnels et contemporains--un en particulier dont ils lisent et étudient une courte oeuvre complète.

En termes de compétence, les élèves sont censés être capables, à la fin de l'année, de composer, en 4 heures, ou bien une dissertation critique et argumentée, ou bien une explication de texte rigoureuse et détaillée.

Assessment competencies:
Maîtrise de la méthodologie philosophique 
Logique et rigueur de l'argumentation écrite 
Qualité de l'expression 
Utilisation des connaissances 
Participation orale


Standards alignment:
 
Ministère de l’Éducation nationale

Updated: August 2016

Authors: Jeremie Rostan, Humanities Teacher


SCIENCES ECONOMIQUES ET SOCIALES

[2 years, 5 hours per week]

Première (Grade 11)
•The social link: associations, communities, the State
•The individual in a society: social stratification
•Culture and society: the role of arts, the interactions of cultures
•Socialization: the example of nobility, the rules, factors and explanations of socialization
•Individuals, societies, and political institutions: functions of the State, integration and social controls, media, violence, public opinion, the role of the individuals in their national economy
•Money and credit: study of money, its use and value, the creation of money, financing the economy, institutionalizing markets
•Market and concurrence: supply and demand, monopolies
•Social policies and redistribution: how to fight social exclusion, the role of welfare
•Budgetary policies: use of a national budget, debates, and policies


TPE 

TPE stands for ‘’Travail personnel encadré’’ (Supervised personal work) and is a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and project-based component of the French baccalaureate for both S and ES students. In TPE, French track juniors work in group for six months on a research project of their choice, under the supervision of two teachers from 2 different subjects. At the end of the semester, each group gives an oral presentation of their a final product in front of an external jury.
TPE is a fantastic opportunity to enhance a large set of skills relating to research and creativity, autonomy and collaboration, as well as oral presentation.


Terminale (Grade 12)
•Work and employment: the job market, unemployment, flexibility, Taylorism, cost of work
•Investment, capital and technical progress: the relationships between investments and employment, technical progress and growth, technical progress and employment, R&D, transfers of technology, the value of human capital
•Globalization of the economy: free trade, protectionism, economical integration, competition, development, tariffs, currencies, economical unions, multinational corporations, debts, financial markets
•Social change and conflicts: the mutation of the job market, social classes, trade unions, lobbying, social regulation
•Social change and inequality: the relationship between ideal egalitarianism and economical inequality, social mobility, democracy, equality, social justice, social hierarchy, elitism, social reproduction and stratification
•The socio-economic role of the State: the European Union’s governments, objectives and constraints, supply and demand, budgets, public services, social protection, social regulations, taxes, social insertion, redistribution


SCIENCES ECONOMIQUES ET SOCIALES— SPECIALITE
(Grade 12, only 2 hours]
In Grade 12 (Terminales), ES students have to choose one of three honors’ classes: either mathematics, political science, or higher level economics.

The political science curriculum focuses on democratic institutions and electoral competition, and invites studentsto they exercise their critical thinking about current political events. In higher level economics, students have an opportunity to reflect on contemporary and global economic issues relating to welfare systems, multinational corporations, financial crises, and international trade.


Assessment competencies:
Acquérir et utiliser correctement les notions de SES/Demonstrates the acquisition of a knowledge of economics
Argumenter de manière précise et pertinente/Write concise, relevant and well-substantiated arguments
Gérer efficacement le temps et être actif en classe/Manages time effectively and is actively engaged in class
Comprendre, interpréter et critiquer différents documents/Evaluates and interprets a variety of sources accurately and critically


Standards alignment:
 
Ministère de l’Éducation nationale

Updated: August 2016

Authors: Eunice Gillan, Head of Humanities

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International High School

150 Oak Street

San Francisco, CA 94102-5912

Phone: 415.558.2000

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An independent Pre-K through 12th grade co-educational day school in the heart of San Francisco. The school delivers a rigorous bilingual (French/English) immersion program through middle school, culminating in either French Baccalaureate or International Baccalaureate program in its International High School.

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