Course Catalog

Please select from the list of departments to see details about Lick-Wilmerding High School course offerings. 

Courses and Descriptions


The History Department strives to help students understand the power dynamics of the past to better understand the world they live in and make informed and ethical choices throughout their lives. Over the course of the three year program, students practice the skills of historical inquiry and analysis, compassionate listening, and personal agency. Faculty hope LWHS graduates utilize these skills to contribute meaningfully to their communities.
  • Modern U.S. History Seminar: Civil Rights Movement

    This senior seminar explores the roots, events, and legacies of the American Civil Rights Movement. Throughout the semester, we will interrogate the accepted narrative of the struggle for Black freedom and full citizenship in the United States, asking questions about the Movement’s origins, leaders, ideologies, and tactics. When did the Movement begin? Who led, participated in, and opposed civil rights activism? How did differences of class, gender, sexuality, and geography shape the Movement? We will examine both the famous leaders and the unknown grassroots participants and discuss how they influenced each other. Along the way we will evaluate the Movement’s success, its legacies, and how its memory has been used (and abused) in recent years.

    Prerequisite: US History Honors

    This Fall 2022 course is UC approved.
  • Modern U.S. History Seminar: The U.S. and the Middle East

    The histories of the U.S. and the Middle East have been inextricably intertwined for at least a century. Middle Eastern oil has been integral to America’s political, economic, and cultural development since the early 1900s, and the political history of the region has been at the center of American foreign policy since at least the 1940s. This course examines the complexity of U.S./Middle Eastern relations through an exploration of the issues that have defined this relationship. Oil, the Arab/Israeli conflict, the Cold War, terrorism, Islamophobia, and more recently, the Arab Spring, are among the many issues that students will explore. Additionally, students will undertake both original research projects and more action oriented work that seeks to illuminate the broader LWHS community about the structures and ideologies that underlie U.S./Middle Eastern relations. 

    Prerequisite: U.S. History Honors

    This semester long course is offered in Spring 2023. It is a UC approved course.
  • Modern U.S. History Seminar: Visions of Excess

    Why do we crave likes and reposts? Are we really fulfilled by the promises of being seen on Instagram? Why do we need to follow a trend on Tik Tok? Vision of Excess explores the relationship between democracy, capitalism, and selfhood. As the West has transitioned from the Industrial Revolution to the contemporary age of social media, we have become entrenched in hyper individualism at the cost of our communities, environment, and personal well being. Our degree of wealth and material consumption has not created happiness but rather incited higher levels of status anxiety and depression. The course will examine texts as tools for creating, perpetuating, and destroying the accepted standards of modern life, standards that are ambiguously dangerous simply because of their unquestioned adoption in our daily lives. We will grapple with capitalism as it has impacted gender roles, morality, and ideas of pleasure ,happiness, balance and purpose. By investigating multiple modes of self expression as a response to the shifting landscapes of popular and global culture, students will be able to read and critically respond to a variety of advanced writers and forms appropriate for college level coursework.

    Essential Questions
    How does modern self-representation shift in view of the emerging technologies of the 20th century? What is the relationship between status anxiety and self-hood in view of these changes?
    What is the social role of art in the 20th century? How does our consumption and analysis of literature/art reveal political agendas? How do literature and art reject or support political agendas?
    What is the role of war in the development of identity and community in the modern age?

    Prerequisites: US History Honors

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved.
  • Modern World History

    This required 10th grade course is a survey study of World History from roughly the 18th through the 21st centuries. In the fall semester, students examine the development of the early modern world through the lenses of identity, membership, and worldview. In turn they investigate the ways in which worldview shaped global interactions. Students will regularly be asked to make connections between these interactions in history and look at long term impacts. The spring semester focuses on the modern era, in particular the varied effects of the social, economic, and political movements of the 20th century. Throughout the year long survey, emphasis is placed on teaching and practicing the skills of historians, including critical reading, research skills, source analysis, daily class discussion, and the elements and art of writing the historical essay.

    Prerequisite: None

    This is a year long course. It is UC approved.
  • Modern World History Seminar: A Collision of Cultures - Identity in Modern Latin America

    This course examines the ethnic, racial, gender, and economic realities of Latin America in both the past and the present. It considers how cultural encounters have manifested themselves in the modern popular culture, politics and economics of the region.

    Guiding questions include:
    What is the nature of "Latino" identity in the United States,Central America and South America?
    How does the category of "Latino" compete with/exist alongside other identities such as Afro-Latino, Amerindian, White, etc… ?
    How does identity manifest itself in the political relationship between the United States and Latin America in the 19th and 20th centuries?

    Students will examine the impact of immigration, the emergence of geographic ethnic and cultural enclaves, and the constant reformulation of identities in Latin America. In particular, the course will consider the anxieties that inform the borrowing, appropriation, and reformulation of cultural and intellectual movements from other parts of the globe.

    Prerequisite: US History Honors

    This semester long course is offered Fall 2022 and is UC approved.
  • Modern World History Seminar: Bearing Witness: Holocaust and Genocides

    After World War II, the world grappled with the atrocities of the Holocaust. Individuals, nations and international organizations vowed that such hateful, targeted killing of a group of people would never again happen. However, the Holocaust was neither the first nor the last of its kind. The 20th century is often referred to as “the century of genocide,” and we are all left wondering how there have been such horrors as the Cambodian, Rwandan, and Bosnian genocides.

    At its core, the course is a study in human behavior and interpretations and understandings of “human nature,” group membership, and obligation. Students will focus on historical and modern case studies of genocide to examine how individuals, nations, and communities choose to confront and remember (or not) atrocities in their aftermath.

    Prerequisite: U.S. History Honors 
    This semester long course is offered in Fall 2022. It is a UC approved course.
  • Modern World History Seminar: Culture and Diaspora in the Modern World

    The Twentieth Century witnessed massive forced and voluntary migrations of people from their original homelands to new locales around the globe. These global diasporas have had huge implications, both for the people on the move, and for the places that they inhabit. This course examines the experiences of people living in the diaspora and how cultural practices have persisted, evolved, and continue to play a key role in their racial and ethnic identities. Whether through music, food, sports, cinema, or other forms of culture, these communities retain important connections to their places of origin. Chinese, Indian, and Mexican migrant communities will be among the case studies examined in the course, and students can expect a balance of direct instruction and independent research in the course.

    Prerequisite: US History Honors

    This semester long course is offered both Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 and is UC approved.
  • Modern World History: Japanese History

    Japan’s historical ascendancy challenges many assumptions about world history. Japan has both borrowed from other cultures and insulated themselves from the outside world. The Japanese have adapted foreign ideas and technology and made them their own. At times Japan was also willing to abandon traditions for the sake of progress. It would not be Qing China, but rather, Japan, a country around the size of Montana, would emulate and compete with the global powers of the 19th and 20th centuries. In this course, we will explore the forces which shaped Japan’s history and culture and seek to answer the question, “what is Japan?”

    Prerequisite: US History Honors

    This semester long course will be offered Spring 2023 and is UC approved.
  • U.S. History Honors

    All juniors are required to take this honors level course, which is a survey of U.S. history from the founding of the nation to the present, examining the formative events, ideas, and developments that shaped the nation. Students will engage in a study of the political, sociocultural, and economic patterns that influenced the growth and evolution of the U.S. In addition to conveying information and insight, the course seeks to further develop the research skills of historians introduced in the sophomore year, including document analysis, historical interpretation, essay writing, and public discourse.

    Prerequisite: Modern World History
    This is a year long course. It is UC approved.
  • U.S. History Seminar: 20th Century U.S. Women's History

    This course examines the history of women in the United States in the 20th century. We will investigate the diversity of women's experiences, considering how differences of race, class, sexuality, and geography affected women's lives. From investigating the roots of different feminisms to understanding women's role in 20th century social movements and the changing nature of women's work, our job this term is to think critically about the difference that gender makes in history. Along the way we will consider how women's history interacts with and transforms the established narrative of U.S. history.

    Prerequisite: U.S. History Honors

    This Spring 2023 course is UC approved.
  • US History Seminar: ​​Race, Class and Gender

    Audre Lord, in her seminal mongraph "Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference" explores the complexities of our intersectional identities, stating "[S]omewhere, on the edge of consciousness, there is ...a mythical norm...In [a]merica, this norm is usually defined as white, thin, male, young, herterosexual, christian and financially secure. It is with this mythical norm that the trappings of power reside within society." Although social, financial and political inequalities have existed in the United States since its inception, recent local and national events have laid bare the impact of these systems of power and privilege. This senior seminar class is a study of race, class and gender, as both independent and intersecting systems; the course has four objectives:

    to examine, understand and interrogate the historical foundations of these social constructs

    to interrupt the way in which we ourselves are "doing race" or "doing gender" every day, often practicing and perpetuating these systems

    to show compassion for ourselves and our peers whose lives and experiences are impacted by structural inequalities, whether through dominant identity privilege or targeted identity oppression.

    to develop a class community with the capacity to name, reject and actively work against injustices in our lives, our school and our communities.

    The course is part historical, part sociological and we will engage with the content intellectually, personally and emotionally; students should be prepared to be critical examiners of our past as well as reflective and empathic listeners to the stories of others.

    Prerequisite: US History Honors

    This semester long class is offered Fall 2022 and is UC approved.


Lick-Wilmerding High School

755 Ocean Avenue | San Francisco, CA 94112 | 415.333.4021
A private school with public purpose, Lick-Wilmerding High School develops the head, heart, and hands of highly motivated students from all walks of life, inspiring them to become lifelong learners who contribute to the world with confidence and compassion.