Social Studies Department

In keeping with the philosophy of St. Thomas, the Social Studies Department prepares students to become participatory citizens of their communities, of the United States, and of the world. To that end, four credits in Social Studies are required for graduation.

St. Thomas students begin their Social Studies program in the ninth grade by studying Ancient World History. Sophomores study Modern World History. The emphasis in both the freshman and sophomore years is placed on political, economic, social, cultural, and geographical concepts and relationships. In the junior year, U.S. History and the role of the United States in world events becomes the focus. Seniors will build upon that knowledge by taking U.S. Government and Economics.

Freshmen and sophomore students who qualify may take Advanced Classes. Advanced Placement classes in United States History and United States Government are offered for those students who qualify in their junior and senior years.

Social Studies electives are offered in United States post-World War II involvement in World Affairs and the Study of America During Conflict. St. Thomas also encourages students to participate in the following extracurricular activities: Houston Area Model United Nations, Bill Archer Congressional Internship, Hugh O'Brien Youth Organization, and Houston Inter-Ethnic Forum on Race Relations. Students will also participate in mock elections at the presidential, gubernatorial, and mayoral levels.



This course deals with the roots of civilization, beginning with the transition from hunting and gathering societies to agriculture and the consequent impact on the environment. The roots of Western civilization from its beginnings in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley through classical Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the formation of nation states are studied. Students receive a general overview of Eastern civilizations and major world religions. Students also study world geography as it relates to the rise of civilization and its subsequent influence on the political, economic, and social development of various cultures and societies.


This course, offered to selected students, is a detailed study of the roots of both Eastern and Western civilizations from ancient times to the early part of the eighteenth century. In the process of considering the relationship between geographic factors, the development of many world cultures, and historic events, students gain a familiarity with world geography. Time is spent on the major events that have shaped the course of our Judaeo-Christian heritage. Students are given the opportunity to examine the major works of art, music, and literature that are expressions of that heritage. Attention is given to the use of primary source reading and document-based questioning as a response to essay assignments.


Students examine trends which have created the modern world including democratic revolutions in the United States and France, the Industrial Revolution, and the Russian Revolutions. Attention is paid to the causes and results of 20th century warfare, the Cold War, and the struggle of newly independent nations to establish themselves. Students also study the impact of technological advances, population increases, and cultural development of society. A formal research paper emphasizing research techniques and writing skills is required.


This course is offered as a continuation of the Advanced World History and Geography to 1750. Content includes an in-depth study of the forces of nationalism, economics, social reform and their intertwining effect on the history of our current society. Analysis of primary sources gives the students the opportunity to examine various points of view of world events and their consequences. Students are given the opportunity to examine the major works of art, music and literature that reflect the relationship between historic events and cultural development of the period. A formal research paper emphasizing research techniques and writing skills is required. Pre-requisite: 93 in World History/Geography I or 85 in Adv World History/Geography I and recommendation.


This course is a survey of the history of the United States from Colonial beginnings, through the Revolution and the establishment of the Constitution as a beginning for our contemporary way of life. The course then considers the events leading to the Civil War and its aftermath, politically and socially. The emergence of the United States as a world power after industrialization and the Spanish-American War as a continuation of Manifest Destiny are considered as a prelude to understanding our involvement in four major wars in the twentieth century. A major consideration of the course is the ethnic make-up of America, particularly the effects of this ethnicity on the American of the 1990's. A formal research paper emphasizing research techniques and writing skills is required.


Students will study the conceptual aspects of the growth of the United States from the colonial period to the 1990’s. Students will experience American History using of a variety of educational methods and through the use of pre-selected reading material plus course text. Preparation for success in the Advanced Placement Exam for college credit is approached through analysis of primary and secondary materials. A formal research paper emphasizing techniques and writing skills is required. Pre-requisite: 86 in Adv. World History/Geography II or 95 in World History/Geography II and recommendation.


This course communicates knowledge necessary to students’ function as citizens. This includes the study of national, state and local government and the workings of the federal system. Traditional topics are treated, such as elections and voting behavior as well as somewhat non-traditional ones such as unconventional forms of political activity. Government economic policy is given special emphasis. (One semester)


The course curriculum begins with the four classifications of economic systems and then concentrates on the intricacies of the American Free Enterprise System. Applied economics is organized around several unifying experiences: the Student Company, the Economic Management Simulation Exercise, Income Tax Preparation and the Houston Chronicle Stock Market Game. (One semester)


This course is designed to meet all of the objectives of the regular government/economics course and to challenge the students' analytical abilities by presenting a variety of opinions on the basic concepts of government and economic systems. Preparation for success in the Advanced Placement Exam for college credit is approached through analysis of primary and secondary materials. Pre-requisite: 93 in US History or 86 in AP US History and recommendation.


This course is offered as an elective to those students who are interested in the United States and its role in foreign affairs. The course curriculum includes the study of United States’ foreign policy from 1945 to the present and will focus on the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union during this period. Students will focus on critical thinking and analytical methods while participating in this course and will be expected to present both policy papers and briefings based on foreign policy decisions and events. (One semester)


This course is offered as a survey of United States military history from the colonial period to the present. Students will examine American military leaders, theorists, strategy, tactics, weapons, and battles/wars. In addition, a special emphasis will be placed on understanding the unique relationship the military and society have with each other in the United States. Students will engage in critical thinking, map reading, and analysis over the course of the semester. They will also be required to conduct a formal presentation and write a research paper emphasizing research techniques and writing skills. (One semester)


This is a one semester course open to seniors only. The Bill of Rights will introduce students to case analysis and legal arguments. Students will be challenged to think beyond their personal opinions on various societal topics. (One semester)

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