History at Avon Old Farms School
Honoring tradition at Avon teaches boys that a respect for the past can inspire excellence.
Our history curriculum focuses on a critical study of the past to bring depth and perspective to the great issues of today.
"Teaching is a noble task that carries great responsibility. Helping boys develop into good men in this supportive community is a privilege."
Raymond Sweetland, History Teacher
- Greece and Rome
- International Relations
- Honors Economics
- Advanced Placement Microeconomics
- U.S. Government I: Foundations
- U.S. Government II: Contemporary Issues
- The Middle East
- Modern World History
- U.S. History
- Early U.S. History
- Honors Early U.S. History
- Advanced Placement U.S. History
- Advanced Placement U.S. Government & Politics
- Post-1945 World History
- World War I
- World War II
- Advanced Placement World History
- Russia in the 20th Century and Today
- Western Civilizations
- World Religions
Greece and Rome
This semester course will explore the history of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. The course will examine how the experience of Greece and Rome connect with modern Western Civilization. The course will begin with an examination of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations and the origins of Western literature. Then the course will explore the different forms of government the Greeks developed, and evaluate their successes and failures. The Roman Empire will be reviewed in detail, from the origin of Rome through the demise of the Roman Republic and the birth of the Empire. In addition to the political systems, the literary, artistic, linguistic, economic, architectural, legal and religious influence of the Greeks and Romans will be major focal points of this course.
International Relations is the study of the world and the people whose behaviors shape history and our current times. In this course, students will learn about the major theories of international relations; about different influential bodies such as state governments, multi-national corporations, and non-governmental organizations; and about powerful forces and conditions that exist in the world, such as globalization and environmental issues. There will be a special focus on the United Nations and the subject of diplomacy, culminating in a trip to a Model United Nations conference.
The Microeconomics course analyzes the economic choices, decisions, and issues facing individuals and individual business enterprises. After an introduction to basic economic concepts, the course presents topics including theory of markets for products, the nature of demand, costs of production, and decisions regarding pricing and output of competitive firms, monopolies, and oligopolies. Issues relating to markets for products are also introduced. The theory of factor markets is addressed, looking at markets for labor, land, and borrowed and equity capital. Issues such as taxation and welfare are examined in the microeconomic context. Finally, issues surrounding international trade, finance, and development are presented.
Honors Economics is an in-depth exploration of microeconomics, including the forces of supply and demand, taxation, government intervention, competition, and the structure of various markets. After this course, students will have a strong understanding of what causes supply and demand to change, how these changes impact prices, and how consumers and producers interact in markets. We will also come to understand why governments make the decisions they make -- analyzing tax structures, poverty, and minimum-wage laws.
We will analyze the stock market, the sports world, and Hollywood films to come to a greater understanding of these topics. A firm grasp of mathematics will be necessary to succeed in this course, as some of the material is mathematically rigorous.
Advanced Placement Microeconomics
The year-long Advanced Placement Microeconomics course focuses on providing students with a thorough knowledge of the principles of microeconomics and preparing them for the Advanced Placement exam. At the heart of the course are basic decision-making skills. These include the concepts of scarcity, choice and tradeoffs, opportunity costs, basis for trade, marginal analysis, and more. Students also learn extensively about the concepts of supply and demand, and about both the product market and the market for factors of production. The course also explores the causes of market failure, the role of government intervention in a market economy, and the concept of international trade. A key part of success in the class is the successful completion of weekly problem sets, which requires effective planning and time management. Current events in business, politics, and international relations also play a significant role in allowing students to apply concepts to the real world.
U.S. Government I: Foundations
U.S. Government II: Contemporary Issues
This second semester course will engage students with contemporary issues. Projects in a public policy arena of student interest (i.e. foreign, healthcare, environment, etc.) will be completed. Past and contemporary cases of civil rights and civil liberties will also be examined. As applicable, presidents will be profiled in order to assess their leadership skills. U.S. Government I: Foundations is recommended but not required to enroll in this course.
The Middle East
The Middle East is a survey semester course which will help students better understand this region of the world that dominates the international political landscape. The first half of the course will concentrate on the history of the Middle East, including, but not limited to the history of Islam, the rise and fall of Muslim empires, the impact of European imperialism, and the lasting effects of nationalism. The second half of the course will zero in on the modern Middle East. We will begin with the creation of the “nation-state” in the region after World War I. Next, we will discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict and the role of the United States in its pursuit of Middle Eastern peace. Finally, we will talk about the impact of oil and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Special attention will be paid to the Gulf War, the Iran-Iraq conflict, 9/11, and the current United States invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Modern World History
This semester course covers the period in history from the end of the Napoleonic Wars through World War II. This course can be seen as a follow up to the Western Civilizations course. The students will begin the course analyzing the aftermath of the Congress of Vienna and the rise of industrialization in Europe. Special attention will be paid to imperialism and modernization in Africa and Asia during the nineteenth century. The second part of the class is dedicated to the first half of the twentieth century. Topics discussed will include World Wars I and II and the effects of the Great Depression. Students will also be asked to complete a research paper assignment.
The U.S. History course begins where Early U.S. History ends, leading students through the 19th and 20th centuries to the present. The course stresses political, social, and economic issues, with special emphasis on people, causality, and the underlying trends and movements that link past to present. Students are thrust into a history that lives and breathes. Confronting the problems of historical objectivity and varying interpretations, the student develops the ability to judge the past for himself.
Early U.S. History
This semester course takes a chronological and thematic approach to the study of United States history and offers a survey of major topics from pre-Columbian civilization, early colonization, cultures and identities of the thirteen colonies, the American Revolution and its causes, the Constitutional Convention and government it created, and the major topics facing the country from 1789 to Andrew Jackson’s presidency. Political, social, economic and diplomatic issues will be examined with the intention of understanding interpretation and its application in the study of the past.
Honors Early U.S. History
This semester course is intended for sophomores who plan to take Advanced Placement U.S. History in the junior year. This survey course begins with the colonial era and finishes with the Presidency of Andrew Jackson. Political, economic, and cultural themes are stressed throughout the term. Special attention is devoted to the formation of the U.S. Government, the Constitution, and the office of the President. Although most reading assignments are from the text, there are readings in primary and secondary sources. A research paper is also a requirement.
Advanced Placement U.S. HistoryAdvanced Placement U.S. History provides a college-level approach to the American past from colonial beginnings to the present. The student is required to handle primary source and documentary materials and to grapple with the problems of conflicting historical interpretation. The underlying objectives of the course are to develop the necessary tools for critical historical analysis and to stimulate an appreciation for the genuine vitality and color of our national experience.
Advanced Placement U.S. Government & PoliticsThis course gives students an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. It examines the various institutions, interest groups, political ideas, and beliefs that together constitute the political life of the United States. Topics include constitutional underpinnings, political beliefs and behaviors, political parties, pressure groups and the mass media, the presidency, Congress, the federal courts, bureaucracy, public policy, civil rights, and civil liberties. The course addresses both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific political issues.
Post-1945 World HistoryThis semester course will examine the major events, movements, and social conditions that helped define the post-WWII era around the world. Topics will include: the Cold War, decolonization, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rise of technology, globalization, modern terrorism and the Arab Spring. Course work will rely on a variety of media, individual and group projects, and more traditional methods of assessment. Upon completion of the course, students will be widely versed in those events that helped shape the modern era.
World War I
How did two pistol shots fired during the early summer of 1914 directly lead to the deaths of over eight million people? In this semester-long course, we will examine the conditions that existed in Europe prior to the outbreak of WWI and trace the events of History’s first modern war. Students will be given the opportunity to research and present in detail key battles, leading personalities, and modern equipment as we explore the 5 W's: Who, What, Where, When, and most importantly, Why this war happened.
World War II
Were there really two world wars or just one, with a 20-year intermission in between the two acts? In this semester-long course we will examine the outcome of WWI, the rise of dictators during the interwar years, and the outbreak of the second modern war of the 20th Century. Once we have a solid understanding of the causes, the majority of the course will trace the events, personalities, major decisions, and outcomes in both the European and Pacific Theaters. Students will be given the opportunity to research and present in detail key battles, leading personalities, and modern equipment as we explore the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, When, and most importantly, Why this event happened.
Advanced Placement World HistoryThe AP World History course is designed to help students develop a deeper knowledge of the evolution of global processes and contacts, in interaction with different types of human societies. This understanding is advanced through a combination of selective factual knowledge and appropriate analytical skills. Students gain a greater understanding of past world events by examining diverse cultures from around the world beginning in 8000 BCE and working their way to the present. Throughout the year students are challenged with a variety of readings from primary source documents, as well as response papers, projects, and presentations. The course emphasizes the development of political and cultural systems and explores their relevance to the modern world.
Russia in the 20th Century
This semester course will explore the major events of the 20th century that shaped Russia, and how that history has shaped the Russia we know today. An understanding of the dynamic and fascinating history of this country is essential to understanding the policies and actions we see Russia practice today. This course provides a broad overview of the leaders that shaped Russian history. The course also aims to arm students with the historical context necessary to interpret current geopolitical events effectively. Students will synthesize a variety of primary and secondary historical sources, and they will also be asked to complete a research paper assignment.
Western Civilizations will introduce the social movements in Europe from the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution. Students will be asked to evaluate critically the evolution of expression, religion, science, law and government. Major topics include: Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution, Age of Exploration, Age of Absolutism, Enlightenment and French Revolution. By the end of the semester, students will be able to outline an understanding of essential questions from each unit, while they learn to analyze, articulate and write about history through primary and secondary sources.