Summer: The Modern Presidency of the United States
Department: Social Science
Open to: 8th-11th grades
Length: 5 weeks
Fundamental to any understanding of modern American history and, in fact, world history in general is an understanding of American leadership at the top—the Presidency. Since at least World War II the most powerful man in the world has been the President of the United States. This course will study in some detail all fourteen Presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt and in greater detail the Presidents who served two terms (three plus for FDR) or in Richard Nixon’s case, one and a half. One president was assassinated, one resigned in disgrace, another was impeached (not removed from office), one was a peanut farmer, another was a former actor, nine were Cold War presidents. Many had scandals that tarnished their administrations, including two with sex scandals. Although just in office for ten months, the current President has the potential to be the most consequential President in Modern American History. There will be individual and group/team projects researching and reporting on the dramatic events at the center of which was the President (FDR—Great Depression/WWII; JFK—Cuban Missile Crisis; LBJ—Vietnam War; Richard Nixon—Man on the Moon, opening to China; Jimmie Carter—Iran hostage crisis; Ronald Reagan—AIDES epidemic, computers in the home; George W. Bush—9/11/2001 Terrorist Attack, Google, Internet Growth; Barack Obama—Affordable Health Care Bill). This course should be fun and entertaining, while laying the foundation for appreciating the triumphs and failures of our country in the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century and the men, for they all have been men so far, who have guided the country on our dramatic journey through history.