Why should I study history? History’s in the past, so it doesn’t change, right? What does history have to do with us today? If you find yourself asking these questions, you are not alone! In this course, we will journey together to (re)discover American history and how studying history is more than memorizing dates and events—but an exploration of people, ideas, innovations, social movements, and so much more. Through history, we learn more about what it means to be human in all its triumphs and shortcomings. Through history, we learn about how ideas take root and grow into movements. Through history, we uncover principles of the past that guide us in the present and propel us into the future.
Dr. Justine S. Morrison notes that “European colonists did not consider themselves “Americans” until the late eighteenth century,” so what makes “American history” uniquely “American”? What even is an “American”? Arguably, the history of the United States began prior to Columbus sailing the ocean blue, but for the nature of this class, we will be exploring significant events, individuals, developments, and processes from approximately 1491 to the present. We will develop and use the same skills and methods employed by historians: analyzing primary and secondary sources; developing historical arguments; making historical connections; and utilizing reasoning about comparison, causation, and continuity and change. Through the thematic study of history, we will “build an understanding of how diverse historical figures have approached key issues,” while also learning how “to participate in civic debates and develop [our] own views on what it means to be a 21st-century American” (Metro).
*This Course Description comes from the work of College Board, including its “AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description” resources, and from Rosalie Metro’s Teaching U.S. History Thematically.