Next year the school will offer another AP social studies class to sophomores, called Human Geography. The high school course is popular outside of California and is just beginning to gain popularity in the state.
While its title may lead some to think about memorization of locations and capitals, the course actually covers topics such as human relationships, migration, food production, the development of cities, politics, culture and human rights. Students will learn about the processes that humans have undergone to understand and use the planet.
“We just want to give kids a buffet of amazing classes,” Assistant Principal Perla Pasallo said. “We’ve kind of branched out in the science and math departments because that was a board focus, but people are also asking about humanities and things like that.”
Freshman and sophomore history teacher Kelly Coble attended AP seminars about the course last year, and she brought it to the attention of the department after developing a keen interest in teaching the course. The department then brought it to Assistant Principal Perla Pasallo and Principal Wynne Satterwhite.
“I went [to the seminars] last year, not knowing if it would be a class, and I was sitting there each day thinking how interesting it was and how the kids would love it,” Coble said. “It’s a different piece of the pie that we don’t already have.”
In previous years, sophomore social studies classes have included Contemporary World Issues and AP European History. According to Coble, AP European History is very much a historian’s history class, while AP Human Geography appeals to students who are more interested social science.
The additional course will add to the sophomore social studies department and give students more choices of AP classes. While AP Human Geography will only be available to the sophomore class next year, according to Coble, the class may open up to more grades in the future.
“Since [AP European History] is the only AP option [for sophomores], some students take it whether or not they’re truly interested in it,” Coble said. “And if you’re not really interested in it, the homework will be tedious, no matter what the subject area it is.”
The course load is expected to be more than that of Contemporary World Issues, and comparable with that of AP European History.
“What I really like about [the class] is that it’s really current and about how the world is today,” Coble said. “History is part of it, but it also has things like politics, sociology, culture, genocide studies and women’s studies. It’s kind of a cool mashup of everything.”
The school does not yet know how many students are interested in AP Human Geography, but according to freshman history teacher Chelsea Doiguchi, there are definitely some prospective students, including freshman Ananya Venkatraman.
“For me particularly, the things taught in the class are more interesting because they are relevant to current issues, especially with regards to how different cultures and people interact with one another,” Ananya said. “It is both topical as well as interesting.”