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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. 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

National Tournament of Champions: International Bracket Co-Champions
National Tournament of Champions: Top International Speaker
National Tournament of Champions: 2nd Place International Speaker
National Speech & Debate Tournament: Round of 32 (World Schools Debate)
Global Tourism Summit Student Debate: 2nd Place
International Public Policy Forum: Round of 32
California Invitational at UC Berkeley: Quarterfinalist (Extemporaneous Speaking)
Stanford National Forensics Invitational: Semifinalist (JV Original Oratory)

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
Stanford National Forensics Invitational: Quarterfinalist (Original Oratory)
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 2019-2020

FORENSICS COURSES

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 (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.

AP RESEARCH CAPSTONE (UPSF11)

Duration: 1 year

Credit: 1 (Pass/Fail)

Grades: 11-12

Homework: Heavy

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)

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.

 

 

POLITICAL SCIENCE COURSES

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. Students are required to take the IB
SL Psychology external examination upon completion of the course.

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.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (UPSF02)
HONORS INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (UPSF02H)
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 & Conflict, helping students understand abstract political concepts by grounding those
concepts 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.
Honors students will be expected to complete an academic research
paper and engagement activity project each semester. IBSL students will
undertake an engagement activity through which they study a political
issue of interest experientially. Those students will then complement their
experiential learning with more theoretical perspectives from research and
submit a written report summarizing their investigation.

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 COURSES

HONORS PHILOSOPHY: METAPHYSICS & EPISTEMOLOGY (UPSF13)

Duration: 1 year
Credit: 1
Grades: 11-12
Prerequisite: Political Science & Forensics Department approval
Homework: Moderate


In this one-year course, students will explore central questions of human
existence alongside IB Philosophy 1 students. Through the study of topics
in metaphysics such as the philosophy of mind and personal identity,
students will reflect on what it means to be human. Through the study of
epistemology, students will reflect on how we acquire knowledge, and what
(if anything) we can know for sure. In this class, ideas from other disciplines
will come together to form a more complete picture of what it means to
be human. This class is largely discussion-based and will emphasize the
careful reading of primary and secondary sources, critical and systematic
thinking, and the verbal and written expression of ideas.

IB PHILOSOPHY 1 (UPSF141)
IBSL PHILOSOPHY 2 (UPSF150)
IBHL PHILOSOPHY 2 (UPSF15)

Duration: 2 years
Credit: 1
Grades: 11-12
Prerequisite: Political Science & Forensics Department approval
Homework: Moderate


In this two-year course, students will explore central questions of human
existence. Students will search for certain knowledge, for ethical values,
and for a deeper understanding of ultimate reality. They will also reflect on
philosophy as an activity and learn to use philosophy to cultivate a good
life. In this class, ideas from other disciplines will come together to form a
more complete picture of what it means to be human. This class is largely
discussion-based and will emphasize the careful reading of primary and
secondary sources, critical and systematic thinking, and the verbal and
written expression of ideas. Over two years, students will read and analyze
a complete philosophical text, write a philosophical analysis of a nonphilosophical
stimulus item, and prepare and sit for two (SL) or three (HL)
externally assessed IB papers.
During year 1, all IB students enroll in IB Philosophy 1. At the end of year 1,
students must choose to enroll in either IBSL or IBHL Philosophy 2 during
year 2.

IB THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE 1 (UPSF31)
IB THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE 2 (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 utilized in areas
such as mathematics, the natural sciences, the social sciences, history,
and the arts. This course places a heavy emphasis on class discussion,
analytical writing and oral presentation skills. Students will explore
knowledge questions in Year 1, and complete their required core IB
diploma assessments in Year 2. These assessments include the TOK Oral
Presentation, the TOK Essay, the CAS Portfolio, and the Extended Essay.

 

PSYCHOLOGY COURSES

AP PSYCHOLOGY (UPSF21)

Duration: 1 year
Credit: 1
Grade: 11-12
Prerequisite: Completion of, or concurrent enrollment in an AP History, AP
Economics, or AP Government course OR recommendation from current
history teacher.
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 oneyear
introduction to Psychology as a discipline at the college/university
level. Students are required to take the external AP exam upon completion
of the course.

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. Students are required to take the IB
SL Psychology external examination upon completion of the course.

IBHL PSYCHOLOGY (USST24)

Duration: 1 year
Credit: 1
Grade: 12
Prerequisite: Successful completion of IBSL Psychology
Homework: Heavy


This course is a continuation of SL Psychology. While the core units
from the prior year are elaborated upon students also investigate the
psychology of human relationships, including topics like altruism, prosocial
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.