An independent Catholic school for young women in grades 7-12

social studies

Social Studies seeks to understand the relationship between change and continuity across eras. Geographic, political, social, cultural, economic, ideological, technological and demographic factors as well as issues of gender and religion help define, shape and drive civilizations. Students will develop a sensitivity to and empathy for other viewpoints and differences that can unite or divide human beings.  As they learn how to understand individual agency, societal interactions, historical genealogy and the natural environment, students will grow in self-knowledge and in recognition of themselves as global citizens.



Social Studies Classes

World Geography

Seventh grade students learn and apply the five themes of geography (location, place, movement, human- environment interaction, region) to deepen their understanding of the past, present, and future connections of our planet’s peoples and lands. Students explore the physical and human characteristics of countries and regions, oceans and waterways, and climates and ecosystems around the globe. Students further their examination by identifying political systems, understanding economies, and investigating cultures and how cultural influence extends beyond borders. (Grade 7)

Foundations of US History

In this foundational course, students study in depth the seminal documents of the United States: the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. They explore key principles articulated in those documents as they investigate case studies in American history, including issues related to Native Americans, African Americans, and gender. Through these studies and projects, students’ examinations seek to answer the course’s essential question: What does it mean to be American? (Grade 8)

World History I

Taught over two years at Ursuline Academy, world history begins with the rise of humanity in Africa, and students learn what makes a civilization through their investigation of  the river civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China; the rise of world religions; the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome; the achievements of African and European societies in the Middle Ages; the Renaissance; and the Protestant Reformation. In addition to learning historical content, students also put their geography knowledge to use and practice their skills practice in nonfiction reading comprehension and historical writing. On a weekly basis students discuss their world through current events analysis and presentation. (Grade 9)

World History II

Beginning with the events leading up to the French Revolution, students layer additional historical understanding through their investigation of the Industrial Revolution, the development of nationalism and imperialism, WWI, the Russian Revolution, WWII, important trends in Latin America, Africa and Asia, the Fall of Communism, the modern Middle East and how the nations of the world are positioned today. Students read actively from a variety of sources and use primary source documents to evaluate the times in which major events occurred. Through their work in this class, students learn about  the ideology, economic and cultural foundations that propel world history. Purposely-designed reading and writing assignments promote analytical and critical thinking about the forces that have shaped and continue to shape the world. (Grade 10)

AP European History

AP European History is a college-level survey course in which students examine the political, economic, social, and cultural life of Europe from 1450 to the present day. The course is divided into topical units of one to two weeks each, and class work is built on students’ analysis and evaluation of the ideas and events gleaned from the main text, primary sources, varied scholarly viewpoints, presentations, and educational videos. College Board-approved assessment includes multiple choice and essay tests, homework essays, short quizzes, short research projects, and class participatory activities. Students are well-prepared for the AP European history examination in the spring. (Grade 10 or 12)

US History

In this course, students engage the span of American history - from pre-Columbian era to contemporary issues debated in the United States - and particularly investigate the American Revolution, Reconstruction, both world wars, the Cold War, Vietnam, and Civil Rights. By reading and studying primary and secondary sources, students gain insight into the ideologies, economics, and cultural foundations that underlay the events of U.S. History. Students use a variety of purposeful themes as lenses for their analysis, promoting critical thinking about the forces that have shaped the nation. (Grade 11)

AP US History

This College Board-approved course prepares students for the AP US History examination through their rigorous analysis of primary and secondary documents. Designed to provide students with the analytic skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the problems and materials in U.S. History, this course requires students to examine significant events and important figures in the context of the following major themes: America on a World Stage; National Identity and Citizenship; Political Change and Continuity; Pluralism and Group Identity; Free Markets and Economic Transformation. For the students, the culminating assessment of their deep dive into US history is the AP US History exam in May. (Grade 11)


Driven by the course’s essential questions: What is psychology, and how can psychology help us answer the world we live in? students explore societal influences on individual behavior and group relationships and look for biological explanations of human behavior. Focusing on the various approaches to psychology, stages of development, and learning and cognitive processes, students also examine psychological disorders, personality traits, and careers in the field. (Grade 12)

AP Psychology

The AP Psychology course introduces students to the systematic and scientific study of human behavior and mental processes. While considering the psychologists and studies that have shaped the field, students explore and apply psychological theories, key concepts, and phenomena associated with such topics as the biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, learning and cognition, motivation, developmental psychology, testing and individual differences, treatment of abnormal behavior, and social psychology. Throughout the course, students employ psychological research methods, including ethical considerations, as they use the scientific method, evaluate claims and evidence, and effectively communicate ideas. (Grade 12)

AP Art History

This College-Board approved course covers the development of the fine arts beginning with the prehistoric era and concluding with 21st century art. The breakdown of the content is roughly 40% painting and drawing, 25% architecture, 25% sculpture, and 10% other media. Students examine both European Art and art beyond the European tradition such as Chinese and African art, analyzing each art work in terms of the elements of art such as line and color and also within the context of its historical, cultural, and social framework. The resources for this course consist of a college level text, primary and secondary source handouts. Among the forms of assessment are multiple choice quizzes, short and long essays, and short art analysis papers. Students learn through reading, presentations, numerous art videos, and hands-on projects. They are required to visit one museum over the course of the year, and the year concludes with a recommended field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Cloisters Museum.  In the spring, students’ final assessment is the AP Art History examination. (Grade 12)

Civics and Current Events

To be an active engaged 21st century citizen, students need a firm understanding of the government of the United States, and students in this course examine the structure and functioning of government in order to analyze the issues the country engages in the world Later in the year they will use that analysis to present, or discuss in a round table format, topics of the day that they have gathered through various media (newspapers, websites, television, magazines, etc.). Class participation, oral presentation, effective utilization of media, and written work all form part of the course assessment. (Grade 12)


Meet Our Faculty

Paul Bimmler


William Donovan


Samantha Kinn


Lynne Petti


Sarah Sedman


Alec Ward