In this 9th grade course, students investigate the development of the West by immersing themselves in the stories of ancient and medieval civilizations. In studying the Code of Hammurabi, the death of the Roman Republic, or the reforms of Charlemagne, students use the past as a guide to understand the philosophical and cultural context of the present.
This course emphasizes presenting a clear and persuasive argument in a variety of forms. Students hone their writing and research skills by crafting analytical essays, and they learn to examine issues and challenge their assumptions through collaborative work and class discussion. The famed Athens-Sparta debate, a highlight of the course and a time-honored school tradition, allows students to combine these skills in a rhetorical contest that demands not only meticulous preparation but also creativity and poise. The lessons of Western Civ I extend beyond the classroom as the class travels to Providence and Brown University in order to study the classical architecture of the city and observe how the cultural traditions of the past continue to live in the world around them.