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Political Science & Forensics

Founded in 2011, the Political Science & Forensics Department is home to courses from four distinct disciplines: forensics, political science, philosophy, and psychology. Our forensics courses offer something for everyone interested in public speaking and argumentation, whether you’re hoping to get more comfortable speaking in front of groups or looking to master the art of oratory. Our political science courses include introductory classes in both United States government and international relations, as well as a wide range of advanced electives. We even offer a variety of philosophy courses, covering such diverse topics as ethics and epistemology.

The department is also home to the Upper School’s world-class Model United Nations and competitive speech and debate programs. Our students have held leadership positions at some of the most prestigious MUN conferences in the world, won and been top speaker at the National Tournament of Champions in the United States, advanced to the International Public Policy Forum finals three times, reached elimination rounds of the National Speech and Debate Tournament in the United States, and won gold in every IASAS Cultural Convention event over the course of just two years. Yet we also seek to give each and every student a chance to participate in these activities, regardless of their goals or current abilities. So please be sure to contact us to learn more about the wide range of opportunities that are available!

A Tradition of Excellence

2019

International Public Policy Forum: Round of 64 (ongoing)
Global Tourism Summit Student Debate: 2nd Place
2018 International Public Policy Forum: Elite 8
International Public Policy Forum: Round of 64
Duke National High School Moot Court Tournament: Elite 8
Duke National High School Moot Court Tournament: Sweet 16
Duke National High School Moot Court Tournament: Round of 32
Nanke International Forensics Tournament: Champions in Varsity Lincoln Douglas Debate, Varsity Impromptu Speaking, and JV Impromptu Speaking
2017 International Public Policy Forum: Elite 8
National Tournament of Champions: International Bracket Champions
National Tournament of Champions: 2nd Place International Speaker
Duke National High School Moot Court Tournament: Round of 32
2016 National Tournament of Champions: Top International Speaker (2nd Overall)
National Tournament of Champions: Semifinalist
National Tournament of Champions: Quarterfinalist
National Tournament of Champions: Octafinalist
IASAS Gold: Extemporaneous Speaking
2015 International Public Policy Forum: Sweet 16
IASAS Gold: Extemporaneous Speaking & Impromptu Speaking
2014 International Public Policy Forum: Elite 8
International Public Policy Forum: Sweet 16
IASAS Gold: Debate, Original Oratory, & Oral Interpretation
2013 International Public Policy Forum: Round of 32
National Speech & Debate Tournament: Round of 60 (Original Oratory)
National Speech & Debate Tournament: Round 8 (Lincoln Douglas Debate)
IASAS Gold: Extemporaneous Speaking & Original Oratory
2012 International Public Policy Forum: Round of 32
IASAS Gold: Extemporaneous Speaking
Nanke International Forensics Tournament: Debate Champions
2011 International Debate Educational Association Mixed Team Tournament: Member of Championship Team
 

 

 

 

 

Course Offerings 2018-2019

PUBLIC SPEAKING, RHETORIC, AND DEBATE (UPSF01)

PUBLIC SPEAKING, RHETORIC, AND DEBATE (UPSF01)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1

Grades: 9-12

*Satisfies Public Speaking requirement

Homework: Moderate

The ability to express, defend, and compare ideas is critical regardless of one’s profession or field of study. Yet, most students don’t receive extended, formal training in effective public speaking and sound argumentation. This course fills that gap in many courses of study, introducing students to the skills necessary to successfully both express themselves and defend their ideas. Students will be taught how to properly organize speeches, how to make good rhetorical choices, and how to have exceptional poise and fluid delivery. They will also be introduced to the structure of arguments and taught how to effectively construct, refute, and compare between them. Students will get extensive experience delivering both prepared and extemporaneous, both informative and persuasive, speeches. And they will have frequent opportunities to debate questions of fact, value, and policy.

AP SEMINAR – CAPSTONE YEAR 1 (UPSF10)

AP SEMINAR – CAPSTONE YEAR 1 (UPSF10)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1

Grade: 10-12

*Satisfies Public Speaking requirement

Prerequisite: For Sophomores - Either prior or current enrollment in an honors English or AP history course OR Political Science & Forensics Department approval.

Homework: Heavy

AP Seminar will instruct students in the practice of research methodology and give them the tools to apply those skills to real world problems. Students will examine the causes of and solutions to broad social problems, both in an individual and a group setting. AP Seminar will allow students to improve their argumentation, presentation skills, and research skills while dealing with interdisciplinary issues that are of interest to them. Over the course of the year, students will have to complete several team research projects and presentations, a research-based essay and presentation, and take a written exam similar to other AP courses. Successful completion of this course will allow students to qualify for AP Research – Capstone Year 2.

AP RESEARCH - CAPSTONE YEAR 2 (UPSF11)

AP RESEARCH - CAPSTONE YEAR 2 (UPSF11)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1 (Pass/Fail)

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Students must have successfully completed the AP Seminar course.

AP Capstone Research is the second year of the 2-year Capstone series. In this course, students further their skills from AP Capstone Seminar by independently designing, planning, and conducting a year-long, research-based investigation related to an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest. Students explore their skill development, document their research processes, and curate the artifacts of the development of their scholarly work in a portfolio. The course culminates in an externally-graded, academic paper of approximately 4,000-5,000 words (accompanied by a performance or exhibition of product where applicable) and a presentation with an oral defense of approximately 15-20 minutes. Although primarily an independent study, this course includes some required meetings (usually during Flex) and communication with a content-area consultant. Note: Students may use a research topic and data that is related to or conducted in a content-area course.

SOCIAL ENTREPENEURSHIP (UPSF51)/HONORS SOCIAL ENTREPENEURSHIP (UPSF51H)

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP (UPSF51)

HONORS SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP (UPSF51H)

Duration: 1 year (Students may take the class as a semester course with

Department approval.)

Credit: 1 (0.5 for semester course)

Grade: 10-12

Prerequisite: None

Homework: Light (Regular) / Heavy (Honors)

Just as entrepreneurs change the face of business, social entrepreneurs act as change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss to improve systems and invent new approaches to improving our communities and society. Through this course, students will learn how business tools and techniques, including opportunity recognition, creativity, innovation, product/service development, marketing, entrepreneurial finance, and organizational leadership, are used to create new solutions to social problems by analyzing case studies of social entrepreneurs and social enterprises. Students will also learn by doing; they will take on the role of social entrepreneurs and identify a problem in our community, design an innovative solution, and implement their solution to make a short or longterm impact on our community.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (UPSF02)/IBSL GLOBAL POLITICS (UPSF022)

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (UPSF02)

IBSL GLOBAL POLITICS (UPSF022)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1

Grades: 9-12 (11-12 for IBSL)

*Students may be able to fulfill the Public Speaking graduation requirement by actively participating in Model United Nations while enrolled in International Relations/IBSL Global Politics. Students wishing to pursue this option must actively participate in at least one MUN conference and attend the team practices required for that conference. Please see the MUN Coordinator, Ms. Sinclair, for details and permission.

Homework: Moderate (Heavy for IBSL)

Developing international mindedness and an awareness of multiple perspectives is essential in our increasingly global and interdependent world. In service of that goal, this course explores fundamental political concepts such as power, liberty and equality in a global context. It allows students to develop an understanding of the local, national, international and global dimensions of political activity, as well as allowing them the opportunity to explore political issues affecting their own lives. In so doing, the course will explore four core units: Power, Sovereignty and International Relations, Human Rights, Development, and Peace and Conflict, helping students understand abstract political concepts by grounding them in real world examples and case studies. Moreover, through the development of conflict resolution and negotiation skills, students will be equipped to address the challenges of intractable conflicts and transnational issues. Emphasis will be placed on collaboration and consensus-building exercises.

AP US GOVERNMENT & POLITICS/POLICY DEBATE (UPSF061)

AP US GOVERNMENT & POLITICS/POLICY DEBATE (UPSF061)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1

Grade: 11-12

Prerequisite: Political Science & Forensics Department approval

Homework: Heavy

The AP U.S. Government & Politics course provides an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. The course involves both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific case studies. It also requires familiarity with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute U.S. political reality.

Once provided with that foundational knowledge and conceptual framework, students will engage in more nuanced evaluation of some of the policy questions currently dominating politics in the United States. While specific topics will change each year, students can expect at least some discussion of national security issues, federal spending, and the scope of the social safety net.

PHILOSOPHY 1 (UPSF07)

PHILOSOPHY 1 (UPSF07)

Duration: 1 semester, offered in Semester I only

Credit: 0.5

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Political Science & Forensics Department approval

Homework: Moderate

This course has two aims: to introduce students to fundamental philosophical ideas and to teach students how to do philosophy, with special attention paid to philosophical inquiry. Students will learn about important philosophers and their ideas, learn how to both think philosophically and engage in philosophical reasoning, and start to form their own opinions about the topics to be discuss throughout the course. Students will attempt to answer the question “What does it mean to be human?” and explore one or more of the following topics: epistemology, ethics, philosophy and contemporary society, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, or political philosophy. The selection of topics may change each year, and students should contact the chair of the Political Science & Forensics Department for more information about those to be covered in the year to come. The topics to be covered in Philosophy 1 in any given year will be different from those covered in Philosophy 2, and students may take either or both during the same year, or they may enroll in IBSL Philosophy.

PHILOSOPHY 2 (UPSF08)

PHILOSOPHY 2 (UPSF08)

Duration: 1 semester, offered in Semester II only

Credit: 0.5

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Political Science & Forensics Department approval

Homework: Moderate

This course has two aims: to introduce students to fundamental philosophical ideas and to teach students how to do philosophy, with special attention paid to philosophical inquiry. Students will learn about important philosophers and their ideas, learn how to both think philosophically and engage in philosophical reasoning, and start to form their own opinions about the topics to be discuss throughout the course. Students will explore one or more of the following topics: epistemology, ethics, philosophy and contemporary society, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, or political philosophy. The selection of topics may change each year, and students should contact the chair of the Political Science & Forensics Department for more information about those to be covered in the year to come. The topics to be covered in Philosophy 2 in any given year will be different from those covered in Philosophy 1, and students may take either or both during the same year, or they may enroll in IBSL Philosophy.

IBSL PHILOSOPHY (UPSF091)

IBSL PHILOSOPHY (UPSF091)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1

Grades: 11-12

Prerequisite: Political Science & Forensics Department approval

Homework: Moderate

Students who choose to take BOTH semesters of Philosophy (UPSF07) and (UPSF08) may sign up for IBSL Philosophy―a course that receives honors weighting. This does not entail extra work, but this commits the student to taking Philosophy in both semesters AND to completing the IB external exam and internal assessment.

IB THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE 1 (UPSF31)
IB THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE 2 (UPSF32)

IB THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE 1 (UPSF31)

IB THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE 1 (UPSF32)

Required for all IB Diploma candidates

Duration: 2 years

Credit: 1

Grade: 11-12

Prerequisite: IB Diploma Student

Homework: Moderate

TOK examines how knowledge is acquired and how it is verified in the areas of logic, mathematics, science, social sciences, ethics, history, art, and religion. This course places a heavy emphasis on class discussion, essay writing and oral presentation skills. Students will complete a major analytical essay each semester and will complete the externally required IB TOK essay and presentations in the second year of the course. The IB Extended Essay will be a required component.

AP PSYCHOLOGY (UPSF21)

AP PSYCHOLOGY (UPSF21)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1

Grade: 11-12

Prerequisite: Concurrent enrollment in or completion of an AP History/Economic course or Political Science & Forensics Department approval.

Homework: Heavy

AP Psychology is an academically challenging introduction to the study of human behavior and mental processes. The course offers a broad and varied survey of psychological concepts and theorists, including: research methods, biopsychology, sensation and perception, states of consciousness, learning, cognition, motivation and emotion, development, personality, abnormality, and social psychology. As such, it offers a one- year introduction to Psychology as a discipline at the college/university level.

IBSL PSYCHOLOGY (USST22)

IBSL PSYCHOLOGY (USST22)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1

Grade: 11-12

Prerequisite: IB Diploma Student or Political Science & Forensics Department approval.

Homework: Heavy

Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes. This course introduces psychology to students by using an integrative approach that examines the interaction of biological, cognitive, and sociocultural influences on human behavior. Research methodology and ethics are emphasized in all units, and students will conduct an experimental study on human behavior to assess their understanding of experimental methodology. Additionally, the topic of abnormal psychology will be studied in detail, including investigation of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias and eating disorders.


IBHL PSYCHOLOGY (USST24)

IBHL PSYCHOLOGY (USST24)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1

Grade: 12

Prerequisite: Successful completion of IBSL Psychology

Homework: Heavy

This course is a continuation of IBSL Psychology. While the core units from the prior year are elaborated upon students also investigate the psychology of human relationships, including topics like altruism, pro- social behavior, bystanderism, attraction, and violence. Understanding of research methodology is extended through detailed study and application of qualitative research methods like observations, interviews, and case studies, and students will undertake a more involved experimental study, including inferential statistical analysis. Students are required to take the IBHL Psychology external examination upon completion of the course.