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The course of history is becoming more inclusive

The History Department is working to make their curricula more inclusive of minority groups’ histories, including those of LatinX, LGBTQ+ and Native American communities. These changes will bring sweeping modifications to Global Connections II, Global Connections III, Regular U.S. History (RUSH) and Modern World History Honors. AP World is also facing its own set of changes, administered by the College Board.

Leader of affinity group OLÉ (Organized Latina Exchange) Leslie ’19 sparked conversation that led to these changes when she approached History Department Head Jonathon Allen and Head of Upper School Laura Hotchkiss ‘86 last spring with concerns over the lack of representation of LatinX history in RUSH and AP World. Allen supported Leslie’s determination for change, commenting on Eurocentrism in the 9th and 11th grade world history curriculums.

“It’s embarrassing that we are such a high functioning school and that we have allowed our curriculum to go so long without addressing the representation of certain minorities and certain histories. There are glaring absences to me. We can’t call a world history class a world history class if we’re only talking about Europe and the Americas,” Allen said.

Allen connected Leslie with History Instructor Dan Lynch, who was teaching RUSH in the fall. Gonzalez met with Lynch over the summer to propose changes to the RUSH curriculum, along with OLÉ members Emely Gutierrez ’19, Blanca Diaz ’20 and Emily Rodriguez ’20.

Lynch was determined to plan an inclusive curriculum for RUSH.

“I very much wanted to make the course the most diverse as possible to reflect the full diversity of this country,” Lynch said.

The RUSH curriculum for the 2018-2019 school year now begins with students exploring a number of historical events that interest them and formulating three research questions, one of which will provide the basis for a second semester research paper on a topic of their choice. This assignment allows students to explore topics that interest them, which creates a platform for cultural and regional diversity to surface in the curriculum. Lynch added Chicano, Queer and Native American Civil Rights Movements to the curriculum, joining the pre-existing African American Civil Rights Movement unit. Although the RUSH curriculum has yet to reach the Civil Rights unit, students visited an exhibit on the 1960s East LA Walkouts at LA Plaza De Cultura Y Artes on Friday, Jan. 18. Lynch also introduced formal and informal discussions about current events, such as updates regarding the border wall and immigration policy.

Changes for Global Connections II, Global Connections III, AP World and Modern World Honors curricula will begin for the 2020-2021 school year.

In the past, Global Connections II has covered civics and citizenship, the basis of democracy. In two years, 8th grade will begin instead with classical civilizations, including Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.

Global Connections III will cover African, Asian and Middle Eastern empires in addition to European historical events, such as the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation. 9th grade will cover history from 1450 C.E. to World War I, rather than to the present, to study empires in more depth, according to Allen.

“9th grade was all very Eurocentric. …You only went into Africa or Asia as the Europeans did, so you didn’t fully appreciate the unique civilizations outside Europe. We’re definitely changing that…and I feel more confident every day that we are actually finally providing a 9th grade world history class,” Allen said.

11th grade’s Modern World History Honors course will pick up after 9th grade with World War I, covering the 20th century to the present.

The College Board is changing the AP World curriculum to begin at the year 1200 C.E., rather than the Paleolithic Era. Allen said Marlborough is therefore considering eliminating AP World from course offerings.

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