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 world of work after college. More importantly, the history curriculum prepares students to be compassionate, interested, and effective citizens in the global community.
Due to the unique nature of the Junior Co-Curriculum experience on Capitol Hill, starting with the 2019 – 2020 school year, all juniors will be required to take the U.S. History class which is integrated with the Capitol Hill program. See course description below for more information.
3-block course; Required for 9th graders
The emphasis of Global Civilizations will be on the examination of major historical trends, including the emergence and development of humans, societies, and civilizations on all continents. Students will examine the history of human thought and language, as well as the development of particular cultural and religious traditions. Students will understand the patterns of societal interaction, cooperation, and conflict. Developing an understanding of these historical forces and their relationship to contemporary human history is a primary goal of this course. The course also introduces students to the essential skills that will be developed more extensively in Modern World History or AP World History. Prerequisites: None
Origins of Civilization - Students will explore the origins and evolution of society from the peopling of the world and prehistory to the advanced civilizations of the ancient Eurasia and Mesoamerica.
Emergence of Empires – Students will explore the rise of empires, examining their similarities and differences, in India, China, the Middle East and Europe.
To the Modern World – Students will explore the growth of regional interactions, examining the impact of trade on the spread of new innovations in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
3-block course; Open to grade 10
This course focuses on the emergence of the modern in history, exploring major themes such as exploration, colonialism, nationalism, imperialism, revolution, and globalization. Students will explore the interactions between cultures and historical forces that continue to shape our world today to help them become confident, informed, and active participants in the 21st-century world. Students also will establish a repertoire of academic skills – critical reading, analytical writing, study strategies, geography and public speaking – which will not only benefit them in future history courses, but will also be transferable to the study of other subjects, now and in years to come. General course prerequisites: Global Civilizations or equivalent 9th grade history course.
Exploration and Revolution - Students will examine European exploration of Africa, Asia and the New World starting in the 15th century and the expansion of European states. In addition, students will explore the Age of Enlightenment utilizing key primary source texts and examine the Enlightenment’s effects on society, government and religion. Students also will explore absolutism and the economic, social and political causes and effects of the French Revolution. Students will be introduced to necessary historical skills including interpreting point of view and bias in primary sources and evaluating different historical interpretations of the past. Prerequisites: None
Wars to End All Wars - Students will develop an understanding of the long and short-term causes of World War One, evaluate the Treaty of Versailles and study the consequences of World War One. Students will then examine totalitarianism and appeasement, and track the growth of fascist aggression in the 1930s. Students will trace the events of World War II in Europe and the Pacific and examine the outcomes of this pivotal event in history. Students will continue to build their historical skill including analyzing how history is shaped by multiple and complex causes and effects and distinguishing between immediate and long-term causes. Prerequisites: Exploration and Revolution
Origins of Globalization - Students will develop an understanding of imperialism and will analyze the factors that contributed to European domination of much of the world. Students will also examine how nationalism and the desire for change affected countries and regions around the world in the early 20th century, looking at case studies of individual nationalist movements. Students will continue to build their historical skill set including identifying patterns in history by drawing comparisons across different time periods, regions, and cultures. Prerequisites: Exploration and Revolution
4-block course; Open to 10th grade by recommendation
AP World History provides students who demonstrate an enthusiasm for history and advanced ability in Global Civilizations with an opportunity to take an Advanced Placement course in their sophomore year. The curriculum is determined by the College Board. This course, equivalent to an introductory college-level course, examines World History from pre-civilization to the present. Through an intensive study of political and diplomatic, social and economic, intellectual and cultural history of the world, the AP World student will develop her ability to: identify, analyze, and trace major themes in world history; evaluate primary documents and the interpretations presented by historical research; express ideas effectively both orally and in writing. Students are expected to thrive in this challenging academic environment by respecting the ideas of others and reveling in the variety of opinions of classmates while developing one’s own opinion. In addition to preparing a student to recognize the impact of global interaction on today’s society, this course requires a student to sit the AP World History examination in May. Prerequisite: Global Civilizations with a grade of B- or higher or equivalent 9th grade history course.
4-block course; Open to grade 11
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. General course prerequisite: Modern World History or AP World History
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 Modern World History or its equivalent.
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 disadvantaged 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 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
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 explore the meaning of human rights in the 21st century as well as seek to understand the way social constructs such as race and gender shape opportunities to secure justice around the world. Central to our journey will be discussions of the following core concepts: cultural identity, feminism, global structures of power, and resistance. We will cast a wide net in our effort to develop an understanding of the quest for global social justice as we explore stories from every continent (with a heavy emphasis on Africa). In this advanced history elective, 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 sources including text, art, poetry, and music. Prerequisites: AP U.S. History or U.S. History
1-3 block course; Open to grade 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: AP U.S. History or U.S. History
Topics in 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.
Topics in Economics: Students will be introduced to basic economic principles and then learn to apply those principles to issues in their world. At the beginning of course, students will identify issues they want to examine. Then they will learn what the study of economics can tell us about solutions to these issues. In the past the class has looked at poverty, gender pay gap, federal deficits and debt, immigration, and trade tariffs.
Topics in International Women's History: Students in this course will learn about feminist theories, from their early development in the West to the more contemporary and intersectional theories in Latin America, Africa, The Middle East, and Asia. Major topics in this course include the ways in which geopolitics, social conditions, symbols, and values relate to women's history. Students are expected to analyze historical primary and secondary stories and explain how events, people, and ideas have impacted various women's movements around the globe today. The course will culminate with a final project, engaging students in working with a local or global organization that protects and advances women's rights.
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. The skills and strategies necessary for performing well on the Advanced Placement exam will be developed and practiced extensively throughout the course. Students are required to sit the AP Comparative Government exam in May. Prerequisites: U.S. History or AP US History
3-block course; Open to grade 12
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. Specific 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. The skills and strategies necessary for performing well on the Advanced Placement exam will be developed and practiced extensively throughout the course. Students are required to sit the AP Human Geography exam in May. Prerequisites: U.S. History or AP US History
Class of 2020 and Beyond
Noting the requirements of most colleges, the History Department recommends that students take at least three years of history.
Mr. 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.
Larry Pratt returns as a full time teacher in the History Department after four years conducting nonprofit work in young voter turnout. Mr. Pratt began teaching history at Madeira in 2000. During his four year absence, he continued to substitute for Madeira History teachers and assisted coaching the Varsity Basketball team.
Matthew Sudnik joined the History Department in 2016. Previously Mr. Sudnik worked for nine years at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, PA, where he directed the scholars program and taught world history, human geography, and humanities. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America and a M.T.S. in Religious Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
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.
Sara Rhodin joined the History Department in 2018. Previously, Ms. Rhodin taught history for four years at George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania, where she also served as a faculty sponsor for Junior State of America, Model UN, student peer counseling, and the class of 2018. Prior to becoming a teacher, Sara worked at Open Society Foundations, Freedom House, and the State Department, and was an intern at the New York Times Moscow bureau in 2008. She holds a BA in International Affairs from The George Washington University and a Master’s in Russian Studies from Harvard.