The social studies department bases its teaching on the belief that "knowledge is power." By offering a rigorous program in history and the social sciences, the department seeks to prepare students to work for a more just and humane world.
The department pursues this broad goal by educating students to participate actively in the American political system, and by teaching them to see complex historical and current issues through critical assessment of multiple perspectives. Out of this educational experience, students should cultivate a sense of empathy and fairness that will better enable them, in the words of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, "to transform society."
While the department believes that a solid base of factual knowledge is the foundation of true learning, it expects students to learn how to read critically, reason carefully, and write persuasively. Students achieve these goals by careful reading of primary and secondary sources, by in-class discussion and debate, and by regular research and writing assignments in all courses.