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World History Foundations

Course Overview

World History Foundations is a one-semester course that traces the development of global civilization from its origins in Mesopotamia through the rise of Greece , Rome , the Early Middle Ages, and Islam.  It is a foundational course for the study of history at Immaculate Heart Academy , introducing students to historical thinking, reading and interpreting primary sources, critical reading of secondary materials, developing a social studies vocabulary, and learning the skills of making an argument in expository paragraphs. The class is a balance of content and skills whose goal is to prepare students for success in social studies classes.


  1. Explore the impact of geography and the environment on history
  2. Trace the early development of world civilizations
  3. Develop social studies vocabulary
  4. Develop critical reading skills for social studies, learning to read as historians do
  5. Develop higher-order critical thinking skills
  6. Master the skills needed for writing effective expository paragraphs

Skills for World History Foundations

1. Critical Reading in the Social Studies

  1. Developing a social studies vocabulary

  2. Practicing effective note-taking

  3. Stating the main idea of a historical text

  4. Identifying supporting ideas

  5. Identifying organizational patterns:

6. Reading primary sources, weighing issues of

2. Critical Thinking

  1. Analyzing causes

  2. Evaluating effects

  3. Summarizing

  4. Completing assignments that require higher-order thinking:

3. Expository Paragraph Writing : Mastering the structure of paragraphs and the organization of ideas in the body



  CONTENT OF COURSE: First Quarter

  Introduction: History and Geography

  1. Reading for sourcing, context, and corroboration
  2. Primary sources and secondary materials
  3. Five themes of geography

Proficiencies: students will be able to…

  1. Explain the terms “sourcing, context, and corroboration” and apply these ideas to reading historical materials; explain the difference between a primary source and secondary materials.
  2. Explain the impacts of geography on history and articulate the five themes of geography.
  3. Identify on the map the locations of the cultures that are the focus of study in World History Foundations: Mesopotamia , Egypt , India , China , Greece , Rome , Early Medieval Europe, Islam (its rise in Arabia and its geographic spread)

UNIT 1: Rise of Civilization: Mesopotamia and Egypt

  1. Geography of the Fertile Crescent and Egypt

  2.  The Agricultural Revolution 

  3. Characteristics of civilization

  4. Civilization in Mesopotamia

  5. Role of the pharaoh

  6.  Egyptian religion and social structure

  7. Technology

Proficiencies: students will be able to…

  1. Explain the importance of the Agricultural Revolution to the development of civilization and compare and contrast hunter gatherer societies with agricultural societies.
  2. List the characteristics of civilization, provide specific examples, and identify when and where civilization first arose.
  3. Explain the importance of written language and technology to the development of civilization.
  4. Explain how geography and environment affected cultural development in the Fertile Crescent .
  5. Explain significant advances of Sumer in the areas of technology, science, and law.
  6. Summarize how geography affected the development of Egyptian culture.
  7. Describe ancient Egyptian religion, social structure, and technology.

  UNIT 2: Indian Civilization

  1. Geography and environment
  2. Indo-Europeans and their impact
  3. Aryan cultural transformation
  4. The caste system

Proficiencies: students will be able to…

  1. Explain who the Indo-Europeans were and their impact on world languages.
  2. Describe the cultural impact of the Aryans on India .
  3. Describe the emergence and significance of the caste system.
  4. Know key terms; Indo-Europeans, migration, caste, Brahmins.
  5. Describe the origins, beliefs, and development of Hinduism.
  6. Understand how Hinduism strengthened the caste system.
  7. Explain the origin, beliefs, and practices of Buddhism.

  UNIT 3: Chinese Civilization

  1. Impact of geography
  2. Dynasties and dynastic cycles
  3. Confucian social order
  4. Chinese technology

Proficiencies: Students will be able to…

  1. Explain the significance of geography and environment to the development of early Chinese civilization.
  2. Discuss the importance to early Chinese culture of family, social class, religion
  3. Describe the concepts of “mandate of heaven” and “dynastic cycles” in understanding Chinese culture and history.
  4. Explain the key teachings of Confucius and discuss how a civil service grew out of the teaching of Confucius.
  5. Explain how the Qin dynasty contributed to the creation of a strong China .
  6. Describe the achievements in technology and commerce during the Han dynasty.

 CONTENT OF COURSE: Second Quarter

  UNIT 4:  Greece

  1. Development of the Greeks city-states
  2. Athens and the ideal of democracy
  3. Greek philosophers
  4. Art, and architecture

Proficiencies: students will be able to…

  1. Explain the concepts of natural law and the humanistic vision and give examples of their influence on Athenian culture.
  2. Assess the impact of geography on the politics, economic life, and culture of the Greek city-states.
  3. Trace the rise of the city-states to the high point of the Golden Age; assess the impact of the Greek civil war; evaluate the influence of Alexander to Great on the spread of Greek culture.
  4. Contrast direct vs. representative democracy, assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Athenian system, and contrast it with modern American democracy.
  5. Identify the characteristics of classicism and romanticism in the arts; illustrate these concepts through specific works of sculpture and architecture.

UNIT 5: Rome

  1. Roman Republic
  2. Roman Law
  3. From Republic to Empire
  4. Rise of Christianity
  5. Fall of the Roman Empire

Proficiencies: students will be able to…

  1. Describe the organization of the Roman Republic , evaluate its characteristics as both a representative democracy and an oligarchy, and evaluate it as a model for later republican governments.
  2. Analyze the factors that led to the decline of the Roman Republic and the establishment of the Empire under Augustus.
  3. Assess the importance of Roman Law to Rome’s ability to govern a large empire; explain the impact of Roman Civil Law and the Law of the Nations on later Western law systems; and identify principles of Roman law that are fundamental features of modern legal systems.
  4. Summarize the cultural contributions of Rome to Western civilization in the areas of the arts, language, and religion.
  5. Analyze the multiple factors that contributed to the decline and “fall” of Rome in the West.

UNIT 6: The Early Middle Ages and the Rise of  Islam

  1. From Germanic kingdoms to feudalism
  2. Manorialism
  3. Role of the Church
  4. Muhammad
  5. Beliefs and practices of Islam
  6. Spread of Islam
  7. Islamic cultural achievements

Proficiencies: Students will be able to…

  1. Describe the origins and development feudalism and manorialism and evaluate how well these systems met basic political, social, and economic needs of the Early Middle Ages.
  2. Describe the growth of the Church as an institution and assess its political, cultural, and spiritual impact on Europe in the Early Middle Ages.
  3. Explain how Muhammad became the Prophet and how he unified the Arabian Peninsula under Islam.
  4. Identify the basic beliefs and practices of Islam.
  5. Describe how Muhammad’s successors spread Islam and trace its spread on a map.
  6. Discuss the Sunni-Shia split and its significance
  7. Give examples of Muslim advances in mathematics and science.

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