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Social Science

social science

San Mateo Union High School District offers a purposeful sequence of Social Science courses at every school site. The social science graduation requirement calls for 3.5 years of social science, including Ethnic Studies, World History, US History, Government and Economics. All of our courses meet UC/ CSU eligibility requirements. All students are encouraged to pursue the most rigorous course options possible, including advanced standing, advanced placement, and at some sites, IB (offerings will vary according by site). Each course places an emphasis on critical thinking, close reading, and the application of historical knowledge to current events. Several school sites offer social science electives such as Psychology, Sociology, and International Relations.

California Standards in Social Science

California History/ Social Science Framework (adopted 2016)

Common Curricular Expectations:


Introduction to Ethnic Studies (9th Grade)

This Ethnic Studies course is designed for students to be politically, socially and economically conscious about their personal connections to local and global histories. By studying the histories of race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, and culture, students will cultivate respect and empathy for individuals and solidarity with groups of people locally, nationally, and globally, so as to foster active social engagement and community building. Particular focus will be given to the contributions, and struggles of different racial and ethnic groups for liberty, equality, and justice in the United States. Students will investigate and analyze the historical factors of power and privilege and the subsequent impact on historically disadvantaged groups’ ability to navigate and mitigate internal and external structures that influence their human experience. Students will apply in-depth analysis to contemporary issues and collectively pose creative, self-affirming solutions in a variety of ways to promote agency through grassroots community advocacy and civic engagement. This course is intended to help build inter-ethnic understanding and socio-cultural bridges in an increasingly more multicultural and multiethnic nation, which is imperative to creating a just society.

Modern World History (10th Grade)

Students will study themes to help make sense of our historical past and the world we live in. A wide variety of basic study skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking skills will be stressed.

US History (11th Grade)

In this course students examine major developments and turning points in American history from the late nineteenth century to the present. During the year the following themes are emphasized: the ideals and realities of American democracy, the population’s growing diversity, the expanding role of the federal government; the expanding influence of the United States worldwide; the impact of technology on American society and culture; changes in racial, ethnic, and gender dynamics in American society; the movements toward equal rights for racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities and women; and the rise of the United States as a major world power. Students examine American culture, including but not limited to religion, literature, art, music, drama, architecture, education, and the mass media.

American Government (12th grade)

Students will apply knowledge gained in previous years of study to pursue a deeper understanding of American government. Students will consider the role and need for government, and expand their knowledge of key elements of our representative form of democracy, such as the idea that the authority to govern resides in its citizens.

Economics (12th grade)

Students will be able to explore fundamental economic concepts on a personal, local, micro, and macro level. Students begin with the most relevant personal finance concepts, and branch out into larger issues in a survey course designed to help them function as knowledgeable civic participants.

District Social Science Coordinator:

Department Chairs by
School Site:

Will Colglazier
Carlo Corti

Matt McDermott
Michael Zozos  

Scott Kuchenig

Dave Emanuel
Arielle Sison 

Middle College:
Jason Letke
Jennifer Rohrbach

Barbara Campbell
Kathleen Louie

Tiffany Kwan

San Mateo:
Shoshana Kalinski