The study of history at Deerfield encourages students to be informed, perceptive, and engaged citizens of the world. Through a variety of courses, students are introduced to the challenges and rewards of studying the past. In all courses, teachers urge students to become more knowledgeable about the many peoples, cultures, events, controversies, and ideas that have shaped human history. Students gain practical experience as historians by reading a range of sources, participating in discussion-oriented seminar classes, and preparing a variety of analytical and interpretive essays.
In exposing students to the moral and ethical issues that have faced other people in other times, in studying the struggles and triumphs that have marked human history and, in understanding the purposes that have divided people as well as those that have united them, Deerfield Academy believes that the study of history is a crucial part of a fulfilling liberal arts education.
Ninth graders and Tenth graders may choose among four courses: Africa and Latin America, Asia in World History, Topics in Western Civilization, and Big History. Students may also elect to study history both years before they become juniors. All ninth and tenth grade courses stress careful reading and writing and develop the ability to select, evaluate, and organize primary and secondary historical sources. Each of these courses provides a similar foundation in historical skills for further study in the discipline.
In the junior year all students choose among United States History, Honors United States History, or American Studies (an interdisciplinary combination of American history and literature). Each course incorporates research projects and papers into its curriculum. Though only two years of history are required (U.S. History and another non-U.S. history) many students in their senior year decide to continue on in history, pursuing their interests in a research-based curriculum.