The following course descriptions detail the likely offerings during any school year, though specifics will vary from term to term and course lineups are always changing. Click on the course titles below for full descriptions.
This course introduces students to both basic and advanced concepts in the study of economics, with particular attention to the interdisciplinary aspects of the field. Though it has an AP-designation, it doesn’t always strictly follow the AP-curriculum and, as such, isn’t a “traditional” survey in economics. During the first half of the year students focus on microeconomics, analyzing the relationship between supply and demand and looking at how these market forces both determine and are shaped by the behavior of consumers and firms. The second half of the year students focus on macroeconomics, analyzing patterns and forces within the larger economy. They look at how unemployment, interest rates, government policies, and environmental catastrophes can affect the broader economy. Throughout the year, the instructor frequently incorporates relevant issues that lie at the intersection of economics and history, sustainability, and international relations.
This course begins with a look at 'traditional' China in terms of culture, religion/philosophy, and political structures. The bulk of the class is then spent looking at the degree to which China is able to deal with the challenges posed by its involuntary interactions with the West. This thread is followed from the Opium wars, through the fall of the Qing dynasty, and into the foundation of the People's Republic. The latter portion of the class looks at the rise of the Chinese Communist Party, its successes and failures, and the challenges it faces as China races towards modernization.
Students examine the history of the modern Middle East (late 19th century to the present day) with a focus on the political, cultural, and intellectual changes that have occurred over the past 150 years. The overarching goal of this course is to study the history of the region through the eyes of its people, rather than solely as the subject of Western imperialism or for its position within post-9/11 geopolitics. The course will focus on the following themes:
Imperialism: How did European and Ottoman imperialism shape Middle Eastern institutions, outlooks, and intellectual currents from the nineteenth century until today?
Nationalism: How was the rise of nationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries interpreted by individuals in the Middle East? How, specifically, did Middle Eastern forms of nationalism, such as Arabism, Ba’thism, Nasserism, and Zionism, arise and flourish?
Contested Modernities: What are the major intellectual, social, and political currents of the modern Middle East? How did identities change (or not) as states and borders, majorities and minorities, shifted over time?
In this course, students closely examine various global, social, and political issues with the goal of enhancing their interest in, understanding of, and responsibility to the world we live in today. Given that students receive a cursory exposure to the study of ethics, this course is associated with the Marvin Shagam Program in Ethics and Global Citizenship.
This trimester-long course is offered all three terms. Students may choose to take it for one, two, or three trimesters, as the content changes each term. This year, the topics will be:
Black & White Racial In/Justice (social)
The Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders Phenomenons (political)
The Closing of Guantanamo Bay (global)
Guns in America (social)
The Road Ahead: Examining the biggest challenges for America's 45th President (political)
Life-Ending Drugs (social)
The 28th Amendment: Students individually determine the next constitutional reform (political)
This course examines the history of the twenty countries that make up Latin America from around 1850 to the present. One challenge students face is trying to make sense of so broad a region in such a short time. The region hosts a diverse range of cultures, geographies, political structures, and languages. By necessity, the course focuses most of its energies on the larger and/or more historically revealing countries of the region, especially Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Cuba. However, other countries are drawn into class discussions, as well, in order to arrive at one story that works for the region as a whole. The class relies on a textbook, in addition to examining several primary source documents.
In this course, students learn about changes in Africa following World War II. First, the course explores the different methods used by European countries to administer their colonies. It then highlights the differences between the British colonial policy of “indirect rule” and the French policy of “assimilation.” The students then explore the conditions that led to the wave of decolonization that swept the continent in the postwar era. The course highlights a number of themes central to the anti-colonial resistance movements. Opting for quality over quantity, students zoom in on five significant case studies: the Suez Crisis (1956), the Congo Crisis (1960-65), the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62), the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), and Apartheid South Africa (1948-1994). Martin Meredith’s The Fate of Africa is the primary text for the course, but it is supplemented with readings in Black political philosophy, African literature, excerpts from documentaries, music, and Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 war film La Bataille D’Alger.
This course examines the history and culture of Japan, Korea and China, with a specific focus on contemporary issues, including the relationship between North and South Korea, China's economic development, and Japan's efforts to retain its global power in the face of rising competition from its neighbors.
This multidisciplinary class combines English and history with the goal of helping students achieve a deeper understanding of a complex question: What is America? By breaking down the artificial barriers that exist between disciplines, students in this course not only study American literature and history, but also investigate their own relationship to the idea of America. Using traditional textbooks, fiction, non-fiction (speeches, essays, memoirs, and editorials), art, advertisements, film, music, and artifacts of popular culture, students contemplate the American past and present in innovative and creative ways. The course is team taught; while students still have distinct history and English class periods, the syllabi is coordinated and assignments often overlap.
Chair of the History Department
Colby College - BA University of Pennsylvania - MA Brandeis University - PhD
Sarah graduated from Northfield-Mt. Hermon School, then headed north to Colby College for her undergraduate work, then to University of Pennsylvania for her masters, then north again to Brandeis University for her doctoral work. She began her teaching career at Phillips Academy, Andover, before joining the Thacher faculty. Sarah is currently the chair of the History Department, advises junior girls, and coaches cross country and track and field. When not spending time with her husband and three children, Sarah enjoys running.
Dean of Faculty and History Teacher
Villanova University - BA University of Hawaii - MEd
In addition to his dean of faculty role, Jason teaches two sections of history, advises junior boys, and leads spirited Extra-Day Trips. While at Thacher, Jason has served as History Department chair, dormitory head for three dorms, and a senior admission officer. He has also developed curriculum for many history courses, including Honors U.S. History and Honors Contemporary Ethical Issues. Additionally, Jason has coached the varsity boys’ basketball team since 2002 and, in addition to having received league honors, is a CIF Coach-of-the-Year recipient. He lives on campus with his wife, Megan, and their three children.
Harvard University - BA California College of Arts and Crafts - BFA University of California, Riverside - MA Princeton University - PhD
Gina’s love of history, literature, art, and writing were all forged while growing up in Los Angeles, where she spent her spare time painting, reading, and plotting her escape. After graduating from Harvard, where she studied English and American literature, she returned to California to pursue postgraduate studies in painting and an MA in art and architectural history. Her MA thesis on late 19th century French luxury brothels allowed her to explore historical issues of gender, space, and architecture. In 2012, she received her PhD in architectural history from Princeton University and has been teaching courses in urban history, history of science, art and architectural history, and politics ever since. At Thacher, Gina is a member of the History Department faculty, serves as an advisor, and works with students at the Writing Center. She lives on campus with her husband, Jake, and two young children, Luke and Greta.
During his time at Thacher, Jeff has taught courses in Spanish, history, and economics. He is also the head coach of varsity football—having himself played four years of football at Trinity University and then worked as assistant football coach at TMI-The Episcopal School of Texas in San Antonio, where he also taught Spanish. Jeff appreciates the tightly knit community at Thacher and enjoys the Outdoor Program, whose trips into the Sespe, the San Rafael Mountains, and the southern Sierra have taught him a lot about camping. Guided by his love of Spanish, Jeff has explored Mexico and studied in Latin America. He lives on The Hill with his wife, Kara, and their two sons.
Williams College - BA University of San Francisco - MAT
After her graduation from Thacher in 2004, Whitney pursued American studies and Chinese at Williams College where she also played basketball for four years. After a year in Taiwan continuing her studies in Chinese, she taught at the Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco and Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Maryland. Thacher is very glad that she is back to teach 9th- and 10th-grade history, coach girls’ varsity basketball, assist with girls’ JV lacrosse, advise 9th-grade girls, and serve as a faculty advisor to the Judicial Council. As a former Toad herself, Whitney says: “I feel very lucky to have the chance to work in this community that has given me so much.”
Drexel University - BA Sarah Lawrence College - MFA University of California, Santa Barbara - PhD Candidate
Bob teaches history, advises sophomore boys in Los Padres, and coaches girls’ soccer and boys’ lacrosse. He entered the teaching profession as an outdoor educator with the Hurricane Island and North Carolina Outward Bound Schools. Since then—that is, for the past 18 years—he has taught and coached at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia. Bob, an avid outdoorsman and sailor, holds a Master’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard. He and his wife, Lucia, live on campus on The Hill; they are raising four children: Edward (at Trinity College, CT), Andrew, and 9-year-old twins Annika and Christina. Their golden retriever Rio has joined the faculty dog pack.