Social Studies Education Major

Social scientists share a common interest in observing, describing, and explaining social phenomena, including cultures, institutions, organizations, groups, and individuals.

A major in social studies education is designed to serve students who seek certification to teach social studies in secondary schools and who need an overview of the disciplines represented in the social sciences. Licensure requirements are subject to change; therefore, students considering teaching in this area should be in continuous contact with the chair of this program and the School of Education for a list of required courses.

Career Options

A majority of our graduates pursue classroom teaching in public or private middle or high schools; others go on to seek advanced degrees from Saint Mary's in special education, literacy, educational administration, curriculum and instruction, school counseling or school psychology.

High School Preparation

Comparative Government and Politics; Human Geography; Microeconomics; U.S. Government and Politics; U.S. History

Enhance Your Experience

Students who major in social studies education will oftentimes pursue a minor or double major in educational studieselementary educationsecondary education, or sociology

Degree Requirements

A. All of the following:

AN300 Introduction to Anthropology (3 cr.)

A general introduction to the study of human culture. Topics: anthropology as an academic discipline, nature of human language, human culture, history of anthropological thought, and human social organizations.

EC261 Principles of Microeconomics (3 cr.)

A traditional introduction to the principles of microeconomics, concentrating on behavior of the household and the firm. The course analyzes factors determining prices, production and allocation of economic resources. Current issues are emphasized.

GE305 Introduction to Geography (3 cr.)

A general introduction to the study of geography, with special emphasis on linking geography's basic concepts to the realms and major regions of the world.

H111 Global History to 1500 (3 cr.)

This course is an introduction to world history from the origins of civilization to 1500. The course focuses on the societies and cultures of Eurasia: Southwest Asia (the Middle East), India, Persia, China, Greece and Rome, Europe, and Africa, and the Americas. Major themes include the founding and development of the world's great religions; political ideas, institutions and practices; law and legal institutions; society and economy; war, conquest and empire; the encounters between cultures; and the richness and diversity of human experience and aspiration in the foundational eras of the world's civilizations. The course also is an introduction to the discipline of history and to the skills of critical reading, critical analysis, and effective communication.

H112 Global History since 1500 (3 cr.)

This course is an introduction to global history since 1500. It focuses on the development of the major societies of Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia and also on the interactions between these societies, including trade, colonization, biological exchange, migration, the spread of technology, world war and genocide. The course also is an introduction to the discipline of history and to the skills of critical reading, critical analysis, and effective communication.

H151 American History for Education Majors (3 cr.)

This course serves as an overview of American history for elementary education majors. It is organized around the social studies standard defined by the Minnesota Department of Education, and as such stresses, in the context of United States and Minnesota history, (1) concepts of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time, and (2) concepts of people, places, and environments. The course pays special attention to the various periods into which historians divide American history; the racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity that has marked American society throughout its history; the creation and development of the United States' political and economic institutions; the role the United States has played in the world; and the ways in which changing interpretations of their own history has shaped Americans' understanding of their identity.

H270 Historical Thinking (3 cr.)

This is a sophomore level course for students intending to major in history or history/social science, or those interested in exploring these majors. It is also recommended but not required for history minors. The course introduces students to the discipline of history, and in particular to the skills of thinking historically, of collecting and analyzing historical evidence, of critically reading the work of historians. The course also focuses on close readings of one or more major historical works which make large claims about the human experience by integrating approaches from several disciplines, and also on critical evaluation of the debates generated by these works. The course encourages students to broadly synthesize their learning and to deeply reflect on the nature of the historical discipline.

H370 Research and Writing (3 cr.)

This is a junior-level course required for those intending to major in history or history/social science. It is also recommended but not required for those intending to minor in history, and for those who are social science education majors. It serves as an introduction to the critical thinking skills and dispositions used by historians as well as some of the basic research techniques employed by historians in research papers. The course requires students engage in their own research and writing, but focus on a broad topic of the instructor's choosing that will enable the instructor to introduce students to various source bases, research methods, argument strategies, and theories/ epistemologies that may inform their senior theses. Students are encouraged to start developing their senior thesis projects, especially as a way of transferring the knowledge gained from studying the course's topic to a topic of their own choosing so it can dovetail with the senior thesis course.

H470 Senior Thesis (3 cr.)

This is a writing-intensive course that guides history and history/social studies and social studies education majors through the required research and writing of their senior theses. It builds on H270 Historical Thinking and H370 Research and Writing, which are prerequisites for the course, as it guides students through the finalization of their research topic, the formulation of an argumentative thesis, the identification of relevant primary sources and secondary literature, the proper application of relevant research methods, and the proper usage of Chicago Manual of Style annotation and bibliography.  The ultimate goals of the course are:

  • The writing and organization of a substantial and well-written senior thesis research paper, based on primary and secondary sources
  • The writing of an abstract of that research paper, to be submitted to the Minnesota Undergraduate History Symposium and Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Celebration of Scholarship
  • The presentation of the research paper at these two events, accompanied by a well-organized and professional-looking PowerPoint slideshow
  • The creation of a research project poster, a professional resume for job applications, and a generic application letter that shows the students' ability to articulate the benefits of a liberal arts education and a history major

PS102 American National Government (3 cr.)

A basic course on the nature and purpose of our U.S. political system; includes the Constitution, institutions, processes and persons that combine to form our federal government. The student is exposed to a variety of approaches to political study.

PY211 Developmental Psychology (3 cr.)

This course explores the study of growth and development across the life span. Students are introduced to the reciprocal nature of biological, cognitive, social and cultural factors on the developing person. This is a research based introduction to understanding the expression of development in everyday life as it extends to family, friendship, youth ministry, school, neighborhood, sports, health care, and social services.

S110 Sociological Imagination (3 cr.)

The nature and foundations of society and the individual, the main forces that strengthen and weaken social groups and the conditions that transform social life are examined in this course.

B. One of the following courses:

ST132 Reasoning with Statistics (3 cr.)

This course is designed to develop student facility in the use of statistical methods and the understanding of statistical concepts. The course takes a practical approach based on statistical examples taken from everyday life. Topics include: descriptive and inferential statistics, an intuitive introduction to probability, estimation, hypothesis testing, chi-square tests, regression and correlation. Appropriate technology is used to perform the calculations for many applications, and correspondingly an emphasis is placed on interpreting the results of statistical procedures.

Credit is not granted for this course and any of the following: BU215 Business Statistics, B392 Biostatistics, or ST232 Introduction to Statistics.

ST232 Introduction to Statistics (2 cr.)

This course is designed to provide the basic ideas and techniques of statistics. Topics include: descriptive and inferential statistics, an intuitive introduction to probability, estimation, hypothesis testing, chi-square tests, regression and correlation. This course makes significant use of appropriate technology. Topics in this course are treated at a higher mathematical level than they are treated in ST132 Reasoning with Statistics.

Credit is not granted for this course and any of the following: BU215 Business Statistics, B392 Biostatistics, or ST132 Reasoning with Statistics.

C. Three upper division history courses, at least one of which must be in American history, from:

H303 From Republic to Empire: Rome (4 cr.)

The Roman Empire holds a unique place in the world history and in the Western imagination as one of the largest and longest-lived empires in history.  This course surveys the history of Rome from its legendary foundation in 753 B.C. to its fall in 476 A.D.  It focuses on key questions such as how do we explain the rise of Rome and its triumph over so many adversaries?  How did it successfully govern such a vast and diverse empire for so long?  There will be a special focus on the late republic, its crisis, civil war, amazing conquests, its conversion into a monarchy, and the famous and intriguing personalities of the time including Cato the Elder, Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Ceasar, and Antony.  A second focus will be on Rome's fall.  Were internal developments such as the remarkable transformation of Rome into a Christian empire to blame?  Was Rome a victim of its own success, corrupted by wealth and power, or was Rome the casualty of barbarian invaders?  Finally, everyday life in the late republic will also be explored.

H305 Race, Slavery, and Revolution in the Atlantic World (3 cr.)

This course focuses on the exchange of goods, people, and ideas between Europe, Africa, and the Americas between 1400 and 1900, with special emphasis on ideas about race and the social structures they engendered, the triangular trade in the Atlantic basin, the transatlantic slave trade, slave rebellions, and the political revolutions and religious upheavals that transformed many slave societies and ultimately ended plantation slavery in the Atlantic World. The course also pays attention to race and slavery prior to the transatlantic slave trade, the racial dimensions of national independence movements, the trans-Saharan slave trade to northern Africa, abolitionist movements, and the diverse cultures of the black diaspora.

H308 From the Constitution to the Civil War (3 cr.)

The writing and ratification of the Constitution are among the United States' proudest historical achievements, while the American Civil War was the Constitution's greatest test. The purpose of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the developments and debates that led to the writing and ratification of the Constitution, the developments of the early national and antebellum periods that fostered greater unity among Americans, and the divisive issues and developments of the 1850s and 1860s that tore the nation apart yet ultimately affirmed the national unity envisioned by the Constitution. The course covers a diversity of social, political, cultural, intellectual and economic topics from the period between 1783 and 1865, such as the development of state constitutions, the development and spread of slavery, the market revolution, the growth of democracy, westward expansion and the removal of Native Americans, early reform movements, growing sectional conflict, and the Civil War. In addition to a broad understanding of the major topics of this period, students gain insight into both the methods historians use to interpret the past and the historiography that surrounds this vital period.

H311 U.S. Foreign Relations in the 20th Century (3 cr.)

A general introduction to the history of American foreign policy in the 20th century, the course seeks to increase students' awareness of the relationship of the U.S. to important issues of war and peace as they unfold in the world. It also pays attention to the linkage between the domestic political environment and its impact on foreign relations. Furthermore, it looks at important events and crises in U.S. foreign relations as well as some theories and practices of U.S. foreign policies. Students acquire a good set of tools to carry on their exploration of the impact of U.S. foreign policy on the rest of the world.

H315 American–East Asian Relations (3 cr.)

The aim of this course is to do three things: provide a general introduction to the history of relations between the United States and the major countries of the East Asian cultural sphere (China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam); explore the changing images Americans have had of the peoples of these nations, the Chinese and Japanese in particular; and draw connections between both these themes and the experiences of Asian–American during the last century-and-a-half of American history. Special attention is paid to crisis in American–East Asian relations, such as: the Boxer Uprising and the 1900 siege of Beijing, World War II and the Occupation of Japan that followed, the Vietnam War, and contemporary disputes over issues of human rights in China (stemming from the June 4th Massacre of 1989). Through classroom lectures, course readings, and a critical viewing of a variety of visual materials (including excerpts from newsreels, newscasts, and feature films) students look at the process by which crisis involving American interests alter or give new life to enduring Western stereotypes concerning East Asia. A major goal of the course is to provide students with the analytical tools and historical background necessary to put future crises in U.S.–East Asian relations, as well as the American media's coverage of these crises, in perspective.

H317 History of Latin America (3 cr.)

The History of Latin America provides a historical overview of Latin America—broadly defined to include relevant parts of the Caribbean and French America—from the Spanish, Portuguese, and French conquests to the present day. The course pays attention to the following: the role of Indians and Africans in shaping Latin American societies; the conquest of Latin America; sugar and slavery; the role of the Catholic Church and other religions in Latin American cultures; Spanish and Portuguese administration; the independence movements of the nineteenth century; the revolutionary movements and military dictatorships of the twentieth century; Latin America's relationship with the United States and other world powers; liberation theology; and soccer, music, literature, and other expressions of Latin American culture.

H318 The Ottoman empire (3 cr.)

This course examines the history of the Ottoman Empire from its founding in the fourteenth century to is dissolution after World War I.  Topics include formation and expansion of the empire, the religious and ethnic divisions within the empire, their impact on its longevity and its ultimate demise, the effect of attempts at modernization in the 19th century, and its legacy in the contemporary world.

H319 The History of the Palestinian- Israeli Conflict (3 cr.)

This course begins with a brief historical examination of the period from Abraham, whose "many sons" include both the Jews and the Arabs, through the Ottoman collapse and Mandatory Period to World War II.  The chronology then slows and focuses primarily on the developments in the Middle East that have led to the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  Underlying this chronological structure, specific themes will be emphasized in each class, along with overarching themes like the roles of nationalism, religion, and victimhood narratives.

H321 From Romanitas to Vikings: The Early Middle Ages (3 cr.)

The first half of a two-semester course sequence that covers the period of history from the later Roman Empire to the demise of the Carolingian Empire.  The course is organized around two ideas.  The first is the creation of Western civilization out of three distinct traditions:  the Greco-Roman, the Judeo-Christian, and the Germanic.  Thus, the early Middle Ages were a time of intense change as this amalgam took centuries to develop.  The second idea is persistence, for example, of the Latin language and the idea of the Roman Empire.  Both ideas reach a temporary synthesis in the guise of Charlemagne, a Frank who is crowned as Emperor of the Romans by the pope.  At the same time the Vikings and the Arabs represent significant challenges to Romanitas or Romanness, and accelerate the internal divisions that undermined the Carolingian monasticism, the creation of barbarian kingdom, the development of the early Byzantine Empire, and the growth of a feudal society.  These topics are explored in particular by close readings of primary sources.

H322 The Age of Holy War and Reason: The High Middle Ages (3 cr.)

The second half of a two-semester course that covers the period of history from approximately 1000 to approximately 1400.  Out of the chaos of the tenth century emerged a mature medieval civilization that still exhibited some paradoxical tendencies.  These include the emergence of the concept of Holy War or Crusade under the leadership of a reformed papacy together with a vigorous revival of classical culture that culminated in the scholastic synthesis.  Other topics include feudal monarchy, chivalry, the revival of towns, and the establishment of the mendicant orders of Franciscans and Dominicans, culminating in the disasters of war, plague, and revolt that mark the fourteenth century and that foretold the end of the Middle Ages.  These topics are explored in particular by close readings of primary sources.

H332 Art, Assassination, and the Individual: The Renaissance (3 cr.)

The Renaissance refers to the greatest outpouring of art in the history of Western civilization.  It also refers to extreme political violence in Italy where war and assassination were regular parts of politics.  The Renaissance was distinguished by a spate of memorable individuals such as Petrarch, Lorenzo de' Medici, and Pope Julius II.  The Renaissance was a time of great religiosity personified by saints such as Catherine of Siena, but also a corruption that pervaded the institutional Church at its highest levels.  All of this happened within the remarkable revival of classical culture and humanism and new theories of education and learning.  Emphasis will be placed on the reading of important Renaissance texts by authors such as Niccolo Machiavelli, and Thomas More.

H333 The Destruction of Christian Unity: The Reformation (3 cr.)

The Reformation refers to the sixteenth-century religious movement that culminated in both the reform of the Latin Church and its division.  The course surveys the state of the Church before Luther, a time of great upheaval with popes in Avignon, the Great Schism, and conciliarism.  It balances a study of the theological issues such as justification, Scripture, and the sacraments, that defined the magisterial Protestant Reformation in its Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anglican traditions, with its Catholic counterpart associated with the Council of Trent, a reformed papacy, and new religious orders such as the Jesuits, and  Brothers of the Christian Schools.  Special emphasis is placed on the longer and shorter intellectual, political, and social causes of the Reformation, some of which can be traced back to ideas, often heretical, found in the early Church and to medieval scholastic speculation.

H335 American Environmental History (3 cr.)

The course introduces students to environmental history as an academic discipline and teaches American history through the lens of that discipline. It emphasizes the reciprocal and symbiotic relationship between human beings that historically have occupied North America and their surroundings—the natural environment as these human beings encountered and transformed them. As such, the course introduces students to the various strands in environmental thought, environmental science, environmental practices, religious belief as it pertains to the relationship between human beings and the environment, and environmental politics that have shaped the history of North America and the United States. The course also familiarizes students with the practices of historiography and the specific historiography of environmental history.

H355 U.S. Women's History (3 cr.)

This course is an examination of the image, roles, status, and activities of American women. In addition, gender issues are explored within their socio-political, cultural, and historical contexts. Special emphasis is placed on a comparative approach to the study of women's lives as they interact with race, class, and ethnicity.

H357 The History of Rock and Roll (3 cr.)

This course analyzes the rise, development, and sociocultural impact of rock and roll, broadly defined to include soul, rhythm and blues, punk, reggae, country, hip hop, heavy metal, and other genres that have become essential parts of American popular culture. Through critical analysis of the texts, images, sounds, business practices, and media machinery of rock culture, as well as of rock and roll's profound impact on television, fashion, race relations, gender relations, advertising, and politics students gain an understanding of the functions of popular art and culture in the political, social, and economic life of the United States. The course challenges students to critically examine primary source materials and secondary readings about topics such as the southern roots of rock music, postwar youth culture, race and racism, class, gender and sexuality, technology and mass media, the culture wars, and rock music as an American export, and thereby come to a greater understanding of the development and interaction of modern and postmodern culture.

H365 Witches, Revolution, and Reason: Early Modern Europe (3 cr.)

The early modern period, from approximately 1500 to 1750 is one of the most tumultuous in Western history.  The period began in a context of religious war and state buildings that culminated in the absolutist France and an England that endured two revolutions, regicide, and an emerging parliamentary system of government.  But perhaps its most distinguishing feature is the great witch-hunts that culminated in seventeenth-century prosecutions that sometimes mutated into hysteria.  This turbulent time ended with two highly influential intellectual movements, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, which radically rejected the religious fervor of the previous centuries for a program that lauded reason, nature, toleration, and new political theories.

H366 Industrialization and Its Discontents: Europe, 1750-1914 (3 cr.)

This course is an introduction to the history of Europe during its explosive period of modernization, beginning with two concurrent world-changing events — the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Using a variety of sources, including works by historians but also primary sources ranging from manifestos and letters to plays and novels, students investigate the ideas and movements which emerged from this "dual revolution" to change the world, including imperialism, liberalism, socialism, feminism, and nationalism.

H367 Europe in the Era of World War 1914–1945 (3 cr.)

This course is an introduction to Europe's "thirty year crisis," from the outbreak of World War I in 1914 to the end of World War II in 1945. Europe's period of progress and optimism was shattered by the "Great War" in 1914. Four years of violence created the crucible out of which the monster of fascism arose. This led to an even larger war only twenty years later. During WWII, mass slaughter became commonplace, from the Nazi Holocaust to the Allies' strategic bombing campaigns, which targeted civilian populations. Using a variety of sources, the course examines the big picture of great power confrontations, but also how the wars were experienced by individuals.

H380 Imperial Russia (3 cr.)

This course is an introduction to the political, social, economic and cultural history of the Russian Empire from its origins to the fall of the Romanovs. The course emphasizes the crisis of the old regime between the period of the Great Reforms of the 1860s and the revolution of 1917. In addition to works by historians, this course uses a variety of primary sources, including memoirs, manifestos, letters, and also works of literature by such authors as Aksakov, Turgenev and Tolstoy. The course seeks to lay a basis for understanding the Bolshevik experiment of the 20th century, as well as Russia's contemporary struggle to define its identity after the collapse of the Soviet state.

H381 Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary Russia (3 cr.)

The Soviet Union disintegrated into 15 new states, the largest of which is Russia, in 1991. This event was widely heralded in the West as a turn to democratic capitalism; a decade later this was no longer so clear. This course lays the basis for an informed understanding of today's Russia by introducing its history in this century. The course highlights the revolutionary period including the Bolshevik seizure of power and Stalin's "second revolution," and also the recent past, including the periods dominated by Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. In addition to works by historians, the course uses a variety of primary sources, including speeches, manifestos, eyewitness accounts, novels, and a series of influential Soviet films.

H390 Modern China (3 cr.)

This is a survey of Chinese history from the rise of the Qing Dynasty in the mid-17th century to the protest and repression of 1989. It discusses some of the main social, economic, cultural, political, and intellectual features of the "traditional" Chinese world the first Qing emperors ruled. It also covers the way this world changed as China experienced a series of convulsive events, including both threats from abroad and domestic rebellions and revolutions.

H391 Chinese and Chinese–American Films as Cultural Makers (3 cr.)

This is designed to assist students to gain a general knowledge of Chinese history from the feudal dynasties to the present, to stimulate students in thinking clearly and critically about Chinese cultural values, to provide students with fundamental facts and documents of the development of Chinese society through the eyes of several Chinese movie directors, and to develop students' oral and writing communication skills. Specifically, this course investigates how films by such directors as Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, and stars such as Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Jet Li have shaped Western perceptions of China as well as encoded Chinese culture and history. Beginning with a comparison of The Emperor and the Assassin and Hero, students study how Chinese history is interpreted from two divergent points of view and representative of key Confucian and Daoism concepts. A study of Ang Lee's films offer the opportunity to investigate how a Taiwan-born, American director has been able to reshape and recondition both Chinese and American cultural icons.

D. One upper-division course in political science

PS314 American Foreign Policy (3 cr.)

This course studies the ideas, institutions, and individuals responsible for American foreign policy, the mechanics of its determination and implementation, with emphasis on current problems, policies and objectives in foreign policy.

PS315-319 Topics in International Relations (3 cr.)

Courses in this section are devoted to a thorough review, analysis, and evaluation of topics and methods that are relevant to the study of international relations and politics. Topics may include but are not limited to the following: war and peace, international political economy, international organizations, non-state actors in world politics, comparative foreign policy, trade and aid in the international system, global issues, regionalism in international relations, and other topics.

PS317 International Politics (3 cr.)

This course examines the basic structures of the international system including: 1) states, nations, transnationals, international organizations, diplomacy, etc.; 2) global issues including: war/peace, deterrence, arms control, political economy, trade, human rights, peacekeeping, etc.; and, 3) global ideas: sovereignty, nationalism, modernization, etc. This course deals extensively with the contemporary international system and the issues arising from the limitations of power in international affairs. Students apply this knowledge in a United Nations simulation.

PS320 Comparative Politics (3 cr.)

This course examines how different types of countries, i.e., established democracies, transitioning nations, and nondemocracies, are governed. The course examines first the broader trends and concepts about political systems and then engages in more in-depth case studies on a number of countries representing different regions, colonial and postcolonial experiences, levels of economic development, and government types.

PS321-329 Topics in Comparative Government (3 cr.)

Courses in this series are devoted to a thorough review, analysis, and evaluation of topics and methods that are relevant to the current study of comparative politics and government. Topics may include but are not limited to the following: Asian politics and governments; Latin American politics and government; European politics and governments; comparative political leadership; political and economic development; comparative revolutionary movements; regimes, movements, and ideologies; and other topics.

PS332 American Constitutional Law (3 cr.)

This course examines the social, philosophical and legal problems faced by the Supreme Court in translating the abstract language of civil liberties contained in the U.S. Constitution into concrete reality with an emphasis upon current problems and the evolving nature of the process.

PS333-339 Topics in American Government and American Law (3 cr.)

These courses are devoted to a variety of significant issues, developments, institutions and outcomes which are important to an understanding of American government and law. Topics may include the study of American constitutional law, the American presidency, Congress, great American political thinkers, American foreign policy and diplomacy and more. Courses and topics vary according to faculty and student interest.

PS370 Public Policy (4 cr.)

This course is devoted to a thorough review, analysis and evaluation of public welfare policy and at least one other topic. These topics may include but are not limited to the following: health care, environmental regulations, energy; consolidation of federal programs; affirmative action, etc. Special emphasis is given to the formulation, adoption, implementation, impact, and evaluation of public policy.

PS371-379 Topics in Public Policy and Administration (3 cr.)

Courses in this section are devoted to a thorough review, analysis and evaluation of topics that are relevant to the current study and practice of public administration. Topics may include but are not limited to the following: development of the merit system, terrorism, health care policy and administration; environmental regulation; energy policy; economic policy; consolidation of federal programs; affirmative action; federal grants-in-aid; and other topics. Special emphasis is given to the formulation, adopting, implementation, impact, and evaluation of public policies.

E. Required education course work

Please Note:

Students considering teaching in this area should be in contact with the chair of the history department and the chair of education. Students should also check each semester for possible changes in course work required of them as they work toward certification at the university.