Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions


A primary goal of every HISP course is to expand a student’s understanding of peoples and their beliefs. Throughout their four years in HISP, students are exposed to a broad range of international literature, culture, and history.

Below are descriptions of the HISP courses by grade. See CKM’s Course Catalog for descriptions of mathematics and science courses, foreign language classes, and electives. In addition to course work, HISP students perform five hours of community service per quarter (see About Community Service), attend three cultural events per quarter (see About Humanities Events), and complete Summer Reading.

Course titles below are meant to correspond with course names as they appear on a student’s report card or transcript; note that Writer’s Workshop may appear as Writing Skills.

Grade 9

World Civilization

This two-semester course covers seven basic units: the ancient world, the middle ages, early modern times, from monarchy to revolution, the rise of modern Europe, imperialism and modernization, and world conflict. Special emphasis is placed on note taking, critical analysis, historical interpretation, geography, and current events. Group projects and short research papers are required.

World Literature/Composition (English 9)

This year-long course emphasizes the traditional concept of read, reflect, and write. What is different, however, is the content of the readings and the approach to this content. Students examine the cultural and psychic origins of myth in Greece and subsequent cultures. Major thematic units include “The Hero’s Quest” and the “Loss of Innocence/Coming of Age.” Other areas covered include epic and lyric poetry, Elizabethan theater, art and music, fiction and expository prose, and philosophical writings such as the thesis assertion, the topic sentence, and structures of argument.

Grade 10

Second-year HISP students build upon the foundation of Western history and philosophy, the supported structure of a world view, and a vision encompassing the cultural richness of all nations and all continents. It is this vision of oneself as an integral part of mankind’s past, present, and future that is the objective of the humanities program—an objective that can lead to the goal of universal understanding and acceptance. All HISP sophomores take seven classes including one semester each of Ethnic Studies and Writer’s Workshop held during zero period.

HISP Ethnic Studies


Ethnic Studies is a course that is designed to tell a more complete story of America. It is designed to validate the voices and experiences of those groups that have been historically left out or misrepresented in our standard history education. In this course, we will use a variety of resources to examine the experiences of these groups and many others. We will look at and discuss various laws, practices, and ideologies that have created the America that we know today. We will consider current issues and trace their historical origins and we will reflect on our own experiences and ideas.


HISP Writer’s Workshop

The primary and most exciting purpose of writing has always been that writing is communication. Writing is also a means of clarifying and discovering what we think. Writer’s Workshop is a one-semester course which explores the writing process from pre-writing to final draft. In this course, students write daily and examine the writing style of other writers. Working alone and in groups, students explore a wide variety of techniques to generate ideas and subjects for writing.

HISP World Cultures

This course emphasizes the diversity of non-Western cultures, religions, mores, geographical areas, values, and traditions and their impact upon world politics. Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia are covered in four, nine-week blocks. Text and sources include Hantula’s Global Insights, People & Cultures (textbook); and Ali Mazrui’s The Africans; periodical readings; and numerous speakers.

HISP World Literature

This course is taught in conjunction with and is complementary to HISP World Cultures. Students study the common source of the three major monotheistic religions of the West; sense the conformity and discipline of the East, while recognizing its great diversity; read indigenous Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Latin American novels; hear the lyric poetry of Latin American poets; and compare the traditions of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America to those of the West.

Grade 11

HISP U.S. History 11 (HP)

This course uses a thematic unit approach that attempts to combine present and past. Supplemental readings are an integral part of this course and are designed to enhance the historical framework offered by the text. Each unit poses a major question and several objectives for students to reach. Students are introduced to the most recent books on the subjects at hand, encouraged to accomplish a variety of group projects, asked to recruit guest speakers, and above all, constantly asked to view U.S. history from a humanities perspective. Art, poetry, song, and dance are blended with the factual content. The course begins with the historic decision to drop the atomic bomb and works forward through Korea, Vietnam, Watergate, and the Reagan era. Students then go back to the eras of Jefferson and Jackson and work their way into the 20th Century. Seeing the U.S. as others see it is an emphasized goal. A major research paper or project is due each semester.

HISP American Literature 11 (HP)

The course begins and ends with the questions, “What is an American?” and “What is the American Dream?” In their search for answers, students explore the interrelationships among American art, music, drama, dance, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, religious beliefs, “pop” culture, political movements, and intellectual history. Expository writing, timed writing exercises, essays, creative writing, and response logs are required. Activities include creative and critical problem solving, discussion, group work, and various types of collaborative and individual learning.

Grade 12

Senior courses are the culmination of the Humanities and International Studies Program, providing students with the necessary information and skills for further exploration in the fields of international relations, political science, philosophy, law, economics, public service, foreign language, foreign service, teaching, writing, and advanced study in liberal arts.

United States Government (AP)/World Politics (HP)

These courses offer an intensive study of the United States government; a comparative study of other government systems and their underlying political philosophies; and the interaction of those systems in an international setting. Students have extensive readings from texts and primary sources and are expected to reflect on those readings in a series of essays, tests, and classroom discussions. In the spring of the senior year, students also have an opportunity to create a Mock Senate. They gain an understanding of the philosophical groundwork of the various forms of government of nations around the world; how those ideas have been translated into constitutions; and how those countries coexist in a time of rapid technological change. Nine weeks are devoted to in-depth country research and a Model United Nations. An extensive term paper is required.

English 12 Literature/Composition (AP)

This course provides students the opportunity to read classical and contemporary literature, including non-fiction and poetry. Each semester, students are expected to write essays varying in length and rhetorical complexity. Each essay should demonstrate the cultural and philosophical ideas examined. Students read widely, write frequently, and reflect on their readings through extensive discussions. Students practice active learning; teach as well as learn from each other; and acquire cooperative learning skills. This course is part of the senior block and is taught in conjunction with and is complementary to United States Government (AP) and Comparative World Governments (HP).