The Madeira History Department is committed to supporting the mission of the School in the materials it uses, the skills it emphasizes, and the instructional techniques it uses.
History classes will provide students with an understanding of the world through analysis of the past and discussions of the present. Students are asked to consider the interconnectedness between their lives, the lives of their communities, and the historical events we study.
By exploring these connections, a student will develop both a strong sense of herself and her role in the world. The History Department seeks to develop the essential skills of research, data analysis, writing, oral presentation, and critical thinking that will prepare each Madeira graduate to continue her studies successfully at the college level and prepare her for the professional world. More importantly, the history curriculum prepares students to be compassionate, interested, and effective citizens in the global community.
3-block course; Required for 9th graders
Comparative Global Studies I invites students to consider what it means to be a member of our global community. Students will explore their place in the world through a skills-intensive and inter disciplinary regional studies curriculum. Course work will draw from the histories of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and will focus on regional interactions as well as the origins of cultural foundations. Students will be introduced to research, analytical writing, and source evaluation. This course is committed to global citizenship and excellence in the humanities, which asks students to think critically and independently and form a deeper awareness of self and others in the world. Prerequisites: None
3-block course; Required for 10th graders
Comparative Global Studies II continues the regional study of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East through the lens of global politics, revolution, and human rights. Students will explore the historical patterns and political foundations that shape our world today in order to become confident, informed, and active participants in the 21st-century world. Students will refine a repertoire of academic skills including critical reading, analytical writing, and source evaluation. The course concludes with a comparative research seminar, for which students will write an analytical paper based on their independent study and research. Prerequisites: Comparative Global Studies I. New 10th graders: an equivalent 9th grade history course.
4-block course; Required for 11th graders
Since a large part of understanding who we are and what we aspire to be requires an awareness of what has come before us, this course will provide the material to help Madeira students identify their place in the narrative of United States history. Students will continue to develop the skills established during their history coursework from 9th and 10th grade, including critical analysis of primary and secondary sources; oral expression in the form of classroom discussion, debates, and role playing in historical simulations; analysis and expression in essays and short answer questions; and in-depth historical research techniques. The first module will provide students with a working knowledge of how the U.S. government functions and what role Capitol Hill plays. One module will provide Juniors with the skills necessary to thrive in a congressional office, including oral and written skills, awareness of current events, and the research skills necessary for completing the Co-curriculum Capstone Project. Prerequisite: Comparative Global Studies II. New 11th graders: an equivalent 10th grade history course.
American Revolution and the Constitution- Students will examine the causes of American independence and the formation of a new nation. In addition, students will learn the workings of the current U.S. government, with particular emphasis on the role of Congress. Students will also practice the writing and historical skills they learned in Comparative Global Studies II.
The Evolution of the United States' Role in the World- Students will examine how the United States went from a small, isolationist nation to a major world power by looking at diplomacy and wars. The capstone project will focus on a current U.S. foreign policy question of the student's choice. Prerequisites: American Revolution and the Constitution
Civil Rights for All- Students will look at the development of the American slave system and its impact on American society. Students also will examine the causes of the Civil War and its impact. Finally, students will evaluate the efforts of women and other groups seeking equality in the United States. The capstone project will focus on a current women's rights question of the student's choice. Prerequisites: American Revolution and the Constitution
The Emergence of the United States as an Economic Power- Students trace the economic developments in the United States, including the First and Second Industrial Revolutions, the Great Depression, and the Affluent Society. The capstone project will focus on a current question of U.S. economic policy. Prerequisites: American Revolution and the Constitution
3-block course; Open to grade 12
Students will address the essential question: “What is the best way to provide order and prosperity to the inhabitants of the international community?” In answering this question, they will learn about a world full of countries with a wide diversity of political structures and practices. Students will learn about the sources of public authority and political power, the interrelationships among states, citizens and society, political institutions and frameworks, and forces for political change. Prerequisites: U.S. History Offered in alternate years. Not offered in 2021-2022.
3-block course; Open to 12th graders
Students will explore the way systems of oppression have shaped opportunities to secure justice and freedom around the world in this discussion-based course. Central to our journey will be discussions of the following core concepts: cultural identity, racism, global structures of power, and resistance. Students will cast a wide net to develop an understanding of the quest for global social justice as they explore stories from every continent (with a heavy emphasis on Africa and the Americas). Students will develop the skills to become confident, informed, and active participants in the 21st century and can expect to read from a variety of college-level sources including text, art, poetry, and music. Prerequisites: U.S. History
3-block course; Open to 12th graders
By learning how to use and interpret maps, data sets, and geographic models, students will explore human social organization and its relationship to the global environment. The course examines the patterns and processes that have shaped our understanding, use, and alteration of the Earth’s surface. Course topics include the geography of population, migration, culture, religion, political organization and geography’s role in the electoral process, agriculture, urban planning, and international development. The course will employ the use of technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In addition, students will apply their newly acquired geographic skills to analyzing a social problem and organizing a solution in a service-learning exercise. Prerequisites: U.S. History
1-3 block course; Open to grades 11 and 12
Advanced History electives provide students the opportunity to study a variety of history topics in greater depth and more sophistication. Students will hone their skills, including critical analysis of primary and secondary sources; oral expression in the form of classroom discussion, debates, and role-playing in historical simulations; analysis and expression in essays and short answer questions; and in-depth historical research techniques. Prerequisites: Comparative Global Studies II
Presidential Elections: Past & Present: This course will look at the 2020 Presidential Election in depth, exploring the candidates, issues, and processes that will determine the chief executive of the United States for the next four years. In addition, students will study the history of the American presidential electoral system, from its design by the framers of the Constitution to its present-day operations. As part of this exploration, each student will complete a research project focused on a historic election. Offered in alternate years. Not offered in 2021-2022.
The Indigenous Peoples of Northern Virginia: Madeira is situated on a beautiful campus that once supported a vibrant indigenous population along the Potomac River. In this course, we will explore their story. By accessing the historical and cultural resources available throughout Northern Virginia, students will gain an understanding of the land and its connection to its first human inhabitants. The course will include an activism component by developing and proposing an indigenous land acknowledgement for the Madeira School to use at community events throughout the year.
Philosophy: What is the right thing to do? What constitutes a good and just society? How do we acquire knowledge and distinguish between knowledge and opinion? This course introduces students to the discipline of reasoning about fundamental principles. By reading classical works of philosophy and contemporary commentaries, students will learn how to construct logical arguments and reason about what constitutes good actions and justified belief.
The Study of Religion: How have human beings around the world throughout history experienced transcendence or the “holy?” This course takes a comparative approach to the academic study of religion. Through critical reading of religious texts and commentaries by contemporary scholars, students will learn to identify major beliefs as well as theological questions from the world’s religions. Special attention is given to the experiences of religious women and women’s experiences with religion.
1 block course; Open to grades 11 and 12
Queer History: Queer theorist David Halperin argues that the histories of gender and sexuality are indivisible from the history of society. The 20th Century more than any other saw extremes in the persecution, recognition, and celebration, not necessarily in that order, of LGBTQ+ individuals in societies around the world. The 20th century also saw meteoric increase in media sophistication (e.g. color photography, radio, film, the Internet, social media’s beginnings) and the ability to tell one’s own story, and how that played out in the LGBTQ+ community. This course would introduce students to key players, locations, and objects in Queer history to uncover those stories and theorize how best to commemorate them.
Special Note: this course meets ISTE standards and counts for both History and Student Life credit.
9 credits and 1 credit in research in junior year
Larry Pratt began teaching the History Department in 2000. In 2012 he began a non-profit called Win the Future Young America. After four years conducting nonprofit work in young voter turnout, Mr. Pratt returned to teaching at Madeira. Mr. Pratt has also coached the Varsity Basketball team.
Ms. Shields Sundberg began her career in independent schools at Madeira in 1997, where she taught for seven years in the History Department. After a 15-year hiatus teaching in other independent schools, Shields returned joyfully, in 2018, to the classroom across from her old one in Schoolhouse I! Ms. Sundberg is a proponent of girls' education, feminist pedagogy, African Studies, and global social justice. She earned her BA in African American Studies and Political Science at University of Rochester (go Yellowjackets) and a Masters in African History at University of Chicago. In addition to a teaching career devoted to global engagement, Shields serves as the Executive Director of a NGO devoted to global youth empowerment and plays an active role in a NGO devoted to rural northern Haiti. Additionally, Ms. Sundberg partners with schools in eastern Africa and the United States to develop African studies curriculum for students and adults. Beyond teaching, Shields enjoys learning about African art, opportunities to travel, listening to music, playing with her dogs (#woof), and being with her family.
Andrew Sharp taught at Madeira from 1995 to 2000 and returned in 2004. He earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science and English from Connecticut College and a master's degree in International Politics from The George Washington University. Before becoming Director of Co-Curriculum, he served as head of the History Department, was assistant academic dean and taught history.
Dr. Rebecca Graham has been teaching at Madeira since January 2020. She earned a PhD in History from American University and a BA in History (honors) and Philosophy (Phi Beta Kappa) from Mount Holyoke College. Madeira combines her passions for academics, women’s education, and a summer-camp-like environment.