What We Believe ... The History Department believes that the study of the past fosters the compassion, humility and moral vision that Branson strives to impart. Our classes are open spaces for discussion, debate, and collaboration. We expect students to formulate their own questions about the past, analyze primary and secondary sources, and discuss and write about their conclusions. We ask students to engage with concepts and controversies, considering a variety of perspectives so as to better understand themselves and foster empathy for others. The goal is to provide students with tools that will help them engage meaningfully in the challenges of the future as citizens and members of the global community.

Graduation Requirements

Three years of history, fulfilled by taking:

  • Modern World History (Grade 9)
  • US History Honors (Grade 10)
  • Seminars in History, minimum of 2 semesters of your choice (Grade 11 and 12

Seminars in History

  • History of the Modern Middle East
  • Constitutions and Controversies
  • Russia: From Peter to Putin
  • Principles of Economics: Micro Economics
  • History of Modern China
  • American Government and citizenship
  • The Good Life: Introduction to Ethics & Justice
  • History of Hip Hop
  • World War II
  • Principles of Economics: Macro Economics
  • Modern Asia Research Colloquium
  • World Religions
  • Social Entrepreneurship

Summer Reading

Modern World History Honors (Rising 10th graders)

Your summer reading for Modern World History is Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel. Do not read the whole book. Instead, read the Prologue and Chapters 1, 3, 4, and 19.

After you read the prologue and these chapters, answer the questions listed below. Each response should be formal in language and tone. Approximately 2-3 pages total. The purpose of the responses is two-fold: they will provide us a basis for discussion when we return to school and they will be collected and graded for their thoughtfulness and thoroughness.

Answer these questions:

1. Identify the major theme of this book. What is it that Diamond is trying to prove? Was his thesis compelling or do you have arguments against his thesis?

2. Identify 3 important passages that you think best support Diamond’s thesis-- Cite specific examples with page numbers. After each passage-- analyze and explicate the significance of the passage and why it proves Diamond’s thesis.

3. How does this story relate to you? What meaning does Guns, Germs, and Steelhave for you? In what ways do the ideas raised in this book relate to you and your life? Once again, cite specific examples to support the points you raise.

United States History Honors (rising 11th graders)

By Robert J. Allison

Hello rising juniors!

Please read and consider the following prompts for your summer reading, American Revolution: A Very Short Introduction, by Robert J. Allison. Respond to BOTH of the prompts below. Base your responses solely on Allison’s book; you do not need to consult outside sources. Your responses to these prompts will serve both as a diagnostic for your teacher and as your first graded work of the year.

Due: the first week back from summer vacation

For Prompt #1, your response should:

  1. include all components of an analytical essay
  2. a bibliography in either Chicago or MLA style
  3. be between 500-750 words (this is about 2-3 pages)
  4. be double-spaced

For Prompt #2, your response should:

  1. include all components of an analytical essay
  2. a bibliography in either Chicago or MLA style
  3. be between 250-300 words (this is about 1 page)
  4. be double-spaced

Prompt #1: According to Allison, what were the social, economic, political/diplomatic, military and intellectual causes and consequences of the American Revolution? Of the ones he discussed in the book, which ones do you think were the most compelling causes and consequences? Why? Choose up to two in your discussion.

Prompt #2: How revolutionary was the American Revolution?

Enjoy! :)

U.S. History team

As final research projects for Honors Modern World History. Students are asked to choose a current event and research the historical antecedents of that event.

Here is the interactive map with location pins tied to abstracts of all the projects sophomores completed.

Political Forum Fosters Meaningful Conversations

“Community Conversations on Democracy” was a political forum sponsored by the History Department last spring in advance of the presidential election. After a special assembly providing an overview of US government and election structure, the entire school attended small group breakout sessions on current political issues facilitated by Branson faculty and students.