History, Politics, and Current Events

 


A Period

 

BOOMTOWN

ANDREW BOGARDUS AND DAVID OLSON

San Francisco. Detroit. Las Vegas. Pittsburgh. Undoubtedly, these are familiar cities, each associated with its own unique identity. What may not be as well known is that each of these cities burst forth because they successfully exploited an incredibly specified financial niche. For every San Francisco, there are ten versions of Berlin, New Hampshire and Graysonia, Arkansas, who failed to maintain their initial success as times changed. This course will use the history of specific cities as case studies, examine the connection between geography and economy, and define sustainability in terms of cities and economies, leaving each student with the tools to make informed decisions in the governance and direction of his or her own community.  

 

CHINA: THE ROARING DRAGON
LU XU
As the world’s second largest economy, China wields incredible influence in the global marketplace. How did this come to be? Through a study of its history, culture, and political system, students will gain an appreciation and understanding of this country’s storied development. After discussing the issues facing China today and its unique relationship with the United States, students will practice Chinese calligraphy and preparing traditional Chinese food. The class will culminate with student presentations of a research project on a topic of interest.

CONFRONTING GENOCIDE

JENNIFER ANDERSON AND DONALD ANSELMI

The word genocide evokes some of history’s most tragic and significant events; The Holocaust and Hutu and Tutsi conflict in Rwanda are just two of the more infamous incidents. Using Brown University's Choices Program, students will discuss and establish a definition of genocide, examine historical genocides, explore more recent cases and analyze the US government’s response to each of these. In addition, we will discuss current politicians’ differing approaches to the issue of genocide and, through a summit, address how best to stop these atrocities from occurring again.  



DON’T VOTE FOR HIM: HE HATES PUPPIES

CORY ANDERSON

We will use the 2012 Presidential campaign as primary source material to discuss modern political advertisements, both negative and positive, and their effect on elections. After a thorough analysis, students will work in groups to produce their own political advertisement. Throughout the process, students will gain a better sense of the modern political communication environment, why campaigns communicate with us in the way they do, and get a sense of how to create, produce and complete a modern political ad. By the end of this course, students will watch political advertisements with a more critical eye and have a better sense of the entire political environment when they go in to cast their ballot.

 

THE FORGOTTEN WAR
R.G. MEADE
Called “the forgotten war” by some, this course will focus on the Pacific Theater of World War II. Noted by author Hugh Ambrose for its “savage fighting, racial hatred, and a challenging natural environment unlike anything seen on the European front,” we will examine the concept of the “good war,” the rules of war, and how the Pacific Theater was portrayed on the home front. We will study sections of the historically accurate HBO miniseries The Pacific and read excerpts from several firsthand accounts to initiate our discussions.

JOGA BONITO
JON MOODEY
Why has soccer, a simple game of modest origins, become such a dominant and influential force around the globe? By viewing segments of a six-part documentary series called History of Soccer: The Beautiful Game and reading portions of Franklin Foer’s How Soccer Explains the World, participants in this course will explore the history, evolution, and impact of the game of soccer around the globe. Participants will have an opportunity each day to play futsal, a version of soccer in which creativity, improvisation, and technique are emphasized. Made popular on the streets of Brazil, futsal gave birth to a new and beautiful style of play, one which Pelé would later coin joga bonito.

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BADGE
BILL GULOTTA
Each of us may have to depend on a firefighter or police officer in a moment of crisis in our life. What goes through the emergency responder’s mind in a moment of crisis? This course will introduce you to the training and psyche of these brave professionals. A graduate of Framingham State Police Academy and the Baltimore Police Academy, Mr. Gulotta will present an overview of the skills necessary to become an officer. After initial training, you will explore real-life emergency situations and will undoubtedly renew your appreciation for the great service emergency responders provide our communities.

SPORTS AND POLITICS
BRAD D’ARCO
Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Joe Louis, and the Miracle on Ice: What do these major athletic figures and events teach us about the social and political climate of their time? In this course we will examine various periods of U.S. history through the lens of major athletic events. Joe Louis’ victory over the German, Max Schmeling, in a turbulent pre-WWII era; Jesse Owens’ Olympic triumph in Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics; the defeat of the Russians by the U.S. men’s hockey team at the height of the Cold War. These events, and others, provide unique insight into our nation’s history.

 

B Period

BAD GUYS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

PAUL MACKENZIE

Throughout the 20th century, the world witnessed the rise, and eventual fall, of several notoriously bad men: Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Ayatollah Kohmeini. Each of these men had a significant impact on their own society, as well as on the world beyond their direct power. What conditions enabled these individuals to rise to power? Why did they pursue such evil policies? Who was the most malicious? Will the 21st century suffer from the presence of their like? This class will investigate the rise of these men, as well as considering their individual “achievements” in a comparative context.

FIVE GREEK HEROES
NORM MERRILL
What is a hero? What does it take to become a hero? Achilles, Hercules, Odysseus, Oedipus and Perseus were five of the mightiest Greek heroes, effectively ancient versions of Superman. Each of these heroes offers us a different look at the human condition. In this class we will look not only at their lives and mighty deeds, their loves and their significance in the context of Greek culture, but also at how these iconic figures have influenced western European culture from antiquity. As we discuss these characters, we will examine how they have been represented in art and the impact they have had on other aspects of our culture.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE COLD WAR
BRIAN SULLIVAN
Over the course of the last several decades, the Cold War has permeated myriad forms of mass media: music, books, and movies among them. In this class students will be introduced to the Cold War and its political and social impact on the United States. Through the use of movie clips from Rambo, Rambo III, Rocky IV, and Red Dawn students will see how heroes and villains are created and destroyed on the big screen. By the end of the week students will come away with a firm understanding of how Hollywood can influence people’s attitudes, political views and shape people’s understanding of a country or a group of people.

MODEL UN: THE SECURITY COUNCIL

LISSA MCGOVERN AND GWYNETH CONNELL

The UN was formed in response to a recognized need for effective international cooperation and discourse. The most pressing work of the UN is addressed in the UN Security Council. Over the last year the Security Council responded to many peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts, the on-going crises in Mali, the Sudan, Syria, the Golan Heights, and counter terrorism efforts around the world. As Security Council delegates, students in this course will have the opportunity to learn about individual member nations, their response to a current issue before the Security Council, and the procedures of one of the most important international organizations. This course is designed for students interested in “model UN” style activities as well as for students who are interested in researching global issues, engaging in discussion and debate about finding solutions for current challenges, and learning about diverse perspectives through the lens of the UN Security Council.

 

PHOTOGRAPHS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

BEBE AND BILL BULLOCK

Determining which photographs changed the world has been open to debate since the first Daguerretype was released in 1839. Our class will provide a historical perspective of photography from the 19th to the 21st century and supply each student with an informed view on the notion of truth and reality in photography. We will also discuss the historical and social implications of this art form, and determine the top ten photos of your lifetime. In addition, students will shoot and select the most iconic and representative of Berkshire School to be presented during Saturday morning’s assembly.

 

THE STAR WARS LEGACY
KEVAN BOWLER AND STUART MILLER ’97
The Star Wars saga is the third highest grossing film series ever. What began in 1977 as a simple tale of good versus evil eventually became a world-wide phenomenon. The idea for these movies was conceived by George Lucas in the 1970s, a time of political upheaval and social unrest related to high oil prices, the Vietnam War, drug use, and the Nixon resignation. This class will study Star Wars: Episodes IV, V, and VI and compare the movies to themes found in literature, mythology, religion, politics and history.

Berkshire School

245 North Undermountain Road
 |  Sheffield, MA 01257
 |  T: 413 229 8511

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