This course will focus on U.S. history from 1865 to the late 20th century.  Ideas such as “equality,” democracy,” “opportunity,” and “freedom” have been associated with this nation, but the relationship of these ideals to reality has often been problematic, controversial, and worth a closer look.  We will also explore why and how U.S. Americans’ views of the role of government change over time as well as strengthen your economic literacy within a historical context.  We will investigate how the inclusion of different groups of Americans affects the historical narrative of a given era, and we will reflect on how the country’s past informs our understanding of current U.S. culture, social dynamics, economics, and politics.


History is much more than a textbook.  It is observation and analysis of everything around us: persons, photos, places, ads, music, video, habits, literature, fashion, customs, and more.  In this course, we will use all these tools to learn from the past.  We will study ideas, events, and encounters as well as how historians have interpreted U.S. history.  History is not one set of facts (although you do need to track basic chronology…. dates matter*), but rather historians’ interpretation of the evidence.  We will examine the way that the story of the U.S. has been told in the past and the reasons that the story continues to be reinvented.  All throughout, we will be relying heavily on your contributions as writers, listeners, reporters, and critics.  Most importantly, you will learn to construct your own interpretations of history using a wide range of resources.  The primary objective of this course is the development of critical thinking skills and the habits of historical inquiry.