Social Studies Department

We guide our students to become informed, responsible citizens of both their immediate communities and the world. Boys come to understand and embrace different perspectives through an immersive curriculum, which helps them cultivate a more nuanced awareness of issues we face today and the demands of a rapidly evolving future. Students explore how and why cultures flourish, especially when confronted with great adversity. They research key cultural conflicts that have shaped American society, learn about the geopolitical structure of the modern Middle East through immersive case studies of citizen accounts, and hone digital news literacy skills such as verifying online sources and dissecting media bias. In each grade, they embark on engaging experiential learning trips with their teachers and classmates to further bring to life the concepts, problem-solving opportunities, and interpersonal dispositions they will need in order to be informed citizens and effective agents of change as they move through their lives.

In sixth grade social studies, boys develop the overall skills required to establish a framework for future verbal, reading, writing and research challenges.  The class travels through time as well as around the globe. From Ancient Rome through the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, our quest is to identify successful and thriving cultures. We learn how and why a culture flourishes, even when faced with great difficulties. As boys do research, write essays, work on presentations, and engage in discussion, they examine new ideas and refine basic skills. Through this course, they discover that history is very much alive and impacts current events in many ways. Our spring trip to Dearborn, Michigan, centers on the theme of inventions begun during our study of the Renaissance. Following the trip, boys participate in a culminating project in which they create a new product or improve an existing product, create prototypes, and pitch their products Shark Tank style!
The American history curriculum integrates global themes, and culminates with a research project that focuses on change makers, locally or globally. Studies begin with a unit about the development of the United States from exploration to the second constitution, and move thematically into governance, industry, suffrage, and civil rights, all with age-appropriate and relevant historical case studies.  Developing reading and writing skills through discussion, active note taking, paragraphing and work on expository essays is a major emphasis during the year. Our units are enriched by field studies. In the fall, a study of the Industrial Era is advanced through the creation of our own assembly line, design challenges, and visits to local technology companies and key Youngstown labor museums. In the spring, the boys spend three weeks studying Cleveland (both past and present), visit Cleveland neighborhoods, and begin their culminating project on Change Makers.
Students in eighth grade social studies explore the foundations of identity, rights, and voice. The Constitution comes alive as students dissect and debate our Bill of Rights. Issues of race, power, and privilege surface when they navigate the American justice system, which culminates in a day-long excursion to the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas and Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse. Marginalized voices take center stage as students discover accounts from citizens during the Arab spring uprisings as part of a trimester-long case study on the geopolitical structure and cultures of the Middle East. Students learn the power of storytelling through images when they study photojournalism and political cartoons as a means of cultivating respect for the complexity of others’ lives. In the spring, the eighth grade travels to Washington, D.C. to witness government in action and develop a personal definition of what engaged citizenship means to them. Throughout the year, students stay abreast of current events at home and abroad and grapple with political, environmental, and cultural dilemmas. Most important, this course is about students listening generously, speaking truthfully, and choosing wisely.      

Social Studies Chair

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Shaker Heights Campus

20701 Brantley Road
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122
GRADES Junior K-8
Phone: 216-321-8260

Hunting Valley Campus

2785 SOM Center Road
Hunting Valley, Ohio 44022
Phone: 216-831-2200
University School serves 870 boys in Junior Kindergarten to grade 12 on two campuses in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The School’s mission is to inspire boys of promise to become young men of character who lead and serve. Dedicated faculty, rigorous curriculum, and experiential programs foster intellectual, physical, creative, and moral excellence.