Riverdale is a pioneer in interdisciplinary coursework at the high school level; we bring decades of experience plus the latest thinking and resources to the task. The following are examples of how we engage in interdisciplinary learning at Riverdale.
Thinking across disciplines helps students make better sense of issues and solutions, in the classroom and the real world.
All juniors take a year-long survey in American studies, earning two credits, one each for English and for history. The course weaves together themes from politics and social history, literature, film, art, and architecture, from the 17th century to the present. It is team-taught by an English and history teacher, whose interactions challenge assumption across disciplinary lines. While each class meets with their two teachers twice a day, the whole 11th grade comes together for films, faculty presentations, lectures from visiting academics, and a three-night trip to Washington, D.C. Student work on that trip includes a political advocacy project, visits to museums and cultural sites, and meetings with political figures.
Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS)
In this senior-year interdisciplinary course, students pursue four essential topics: Virtue, the Self, Social Justice, and the Environment. The course concludes with a three-week “mini-course” in which students choose to study a specific topic of interest with one of our eight ILS teachers.
This interdisciplinary course is an elective choice for advanced mathematics and science students in the 12th grade. Team-taught by a physics and a calculus teacher, this is a combined math/science course that meets twice a day. Calculus and physics share a common origin and, because so much of what is covered in each class is mirrored in the other, teaching the courses in an integrated manner promotes deep student understanding and allows students to explore concepts in a more tangible setting and at a higher level than is commonly possible. As is true for Constructing America, the intellectual interaction between two teachers is a defining feature of this course.
History I and II
This two-year course provides our students with a strong foundation — and gets them to consider and reconsider the way they understand the discipline. The course traces the emergence of the capitalist world system and its features, including global economic interdependence and patterned inequalities of wealth and power. By investigating crucial developments from the 15th century to the present, students understand the special features of their contemporary world, and the ways in which its conventional behaviors, assumptions, and institutions have been constructed. Students often particularly remember — and then return to — the way their 9th-grade year began: with a three-week study of Walmart that precedes the study of ancient societies.
Science Research Symposium
Riverdale juniors and seniors share their research – conducted over the summer, either in Riverdale’s summer science research program, or at one of a variety of labs throughout the city – with the wider community. These students work in fall research courses to plan and perfect their presentations, to learn to speak to a wide audience, and to create powerful visual representations of their findings.