War and Peace: HS 432 

Teacher: Mr. Smith     dsmith@innovationcharter.org
Extra Help:

Course Overview

War and Peace:  Us history elective


Essential Questions:

            What is war?  What is peace?

            What are the causes of violence and war?

            What are the possibilities for peace and non-violence?



HS Course  Summary:

            This US History elective will be an inter-disciplinary exploration of 20th century violence and the forces that have contributed to peace.  Along with an introduction to the theory of a ‘just war,’ we will read & respond to theories of violence and aggression in psychology, biology and philosophy (Konrad Lorenz, Edward Wilson, Freud).  Next, you will study and analyze the history, causes and effects of major conflicts in the 20th century: World War I & and Vietnam.  The essential history of these wars will be assessed with readings, exams and essays.  Through art and literature, we will confront fundamental questions about the motives for violence.  Erich Remarque’s novel ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (1929) and Jean Renoir’s film ‘The Grand Illusion’  will be  major sources for World War I, and the German film ‘The Triumph of the Will’ will be featured in the Unit 2 case study of NAZI militarism.  The final unit will focus on the Vietnam War of the 1960’s. Was it a ‘just war’? How did war end and peace begin?  What role was played by American artists, musicians, activists, politicians, writers and other advocates for peace?  Music, Oral Histories and film help you to present your answer to the question: How and why did the war end?    

HONORS :    Honors students may challenge themselves and earn additional credit through one of the following independent projects:   Develop and submit an essay for an annual competition, the ‘National Peace Essay Contest,’ sponsored by the US Institute of Peace (www.usip.org) or prepare for and participate in the US Academic Decathlon (www.usad.org)  competition for 2013-2014 ‘World War I.’


Course Objectives: 

·       To question and debate the origins and causes of violence in the life of individuals and nations.

·       To compare and evaluate theories on aggression and violence

·       To identify, interpret[ and create] artistic and cultural expressions of peace and/or war

·       To develop reading and discussion skills with the novel ‘All Quiet on the Western Front

·       To research and present findings on contemporary wars/conflicts or peace movements

·       HONORS A:  To develop and submit an essay for competition ‘National Peace Essay Contest’ (US Inst. Of Peace)

·       HONORS B:  To prepare & participate (individually or as group) in the US Academic Decathlon competition (World War I) www.usad.org










            All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque (1929)

            The Grand Illusion” (Film, 1937)

            Hearts and Minds (1975)   Documentary Film  Vietnam War