History & Social Science Department

The World We Live In

The study of history and social science is the study of humanity. It is a retelling of the stories of the empowered and disempowered; of those who create systems of power and those who dismantle them. An understanding of the past continues to be a prerequisite for responsible global citizens as students examine other cultures and broaden their understanding of an interdependent world. Equally vital, the study of history and social science provides knowledge, skills, and understanding fundamental to a liberal arts education.

Our Faculty

Learning happens across all aspects of our campus. Andover's faculty are subject matter experts, mentors, stewards of Knowledge & Goodness, and much more. Marisela Ramos is the Department Chair; Clair Dahm is the Assistant Chair.

Alli Booth

Alli Booth

Chris Jones Headshot

Chris Jones

Tracy Ainsworth Headshot

Tracy E. Ainsworth

Instructor, JV2 Lacrosse Coach, Faculty Advisor to the Phillipian, Day Student Advisor [email protected] view full profile

When Ms. Ainsworth's not teaching, coaching, or working with students in the newsroom, she likes to run, hike, read, and hang out with her family (including her watermelon-eating dog, Lily). Lately, she's been trying to get better at making ceramic pots and home-made pizza.

Clair Dahm headshot

Clair Dahm

Instructor and Assistant Chair, Department of History and Social Science, Varsity Crew Coach, House Counselor [email protected]

Dr. Dahm serves as an Instructor and Assistant Chair in the History and Social Science Department. Her academic specialities include the history of criminal justice and urban policy in the United States. When not in the classroom, Dr. Dahm spends her afternoons coaching varsity crew on the Merrimack and her evenings chatting with the residents of Whitney House, where she lives with her husband and their rambunctious dog.


Urban Crisis | HSS576

“All politics,” Tip O’Neill concluded, “is local.” In this seminar, students will put this oft-cited sentiment to the test by examining the dynamic relationship between local, state, and federal politics. American cities—the key sites of contestation for many policy debates in the decades following WWII—will serve as the lens through which students access the lived experience and ramifications of broader national political trends, events, crises, and movements. Students will deploy the methodological tools of urban history to contemplate the cultural, spatial, and social reality of urban environments, and examine the contingent historical development—and impact—of urban policies on social and economic inequality in modern American cities. Some of the issues covered include suburbanization in Detroit, the War on Poverty in Las Vegas, the War on Crime in New York, and the War on Drugs in Los Angeles.

Marcelle Doheny

Marcelle Doheny

Instructor in History and Social Science on Frederick W. Beinecke Foundation, Day Student Advisor [email protected] view full profile

“It is really fulfilling to be able to write elective courses for seniors, but I also love teaching the ninth graders and the one-year international seniors.”


Natural Causes: How Climate Change Wrote History | HSS593

The impact of human activity on the behavior of the earth’s climate has become one of the overriding concerns of the modern world, making climate change the central environmental problem of our time. Anticipating the impact of climate change on modern civilization, however, is not an easy exercise. Past climate change can help us to understand it as a catalyst for change that humans were not aware of, and can then help us to decide the role humans have played in the current environmental situation.

Through a series of case studies, we will investigate how civilizations have been influenced by weather and climate change. Starting with a historical overview of broad changes in climate, students will investigate specific instances when weather has influenced the course of history. How, for example, did winter weather protect Russia from invasion by first Sweden, then Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany? We will then expand our scope to examine the larger and longer-term influence of climate shifts on the course of regional civilizations such as the Maya in Central America, the Tang Dynasty in China, and the Harappan/Indus Valley civilization. The third group of case studies will examine the impact of global climate shifts on the interaction between civilizations on a continental scale. Examples could include the rise and spread of the Mongol civilization from central Asia to Eastern Europe and eastern Asia. We will end the term by examining the possible consequences of climate change on the future course of modern civilization.

Emma Frey

Emma Frey

History and Social Sciences efr[email protected] view full profile

“I once read that we study history "..to gain access to the laboratory of human experience." I think about that everytime I walk into my classroom.”


Fashion in History | HSS595

“There is something about fashion that can make people very nervous,” remarks Anna Wintour in the 2009 film The September Issue.

Fashion studies is an interdisciplinary field, but one that retains a study of the past as central. It asks the question, “Does what people wear matter?” More than any other facet of material culture, an interest in fashion is often dismissed as trivial or seen as an emblem of superficiality. However, clothing represents far more than narcissism or the physiological need to cover oneself for warmth and safety. From headwear to footwear, fashion can communicate what we do, who we think we are or would like to be, where we are from, and what we care about. Fashion can be used as a lens to consider change.

Using iconic fashion items from history, this course will explore what they communicate about global cultures, historical moments, social and political status, economic clout, gender, and identity.

Fashion in History
Tom Fritz

Thomas Fritz

Instructor History and Social Science, JV Football and Varsity Baseball Coach, Advisor, Dorm Complement [email protected]

Mr. Fritz teaches History and serves as an assistant coach with the football and baseball programs. He lives on campus and serves as a dorm complement and advisor.


Senior Research and Writing Seminar | HSS495

For one-year students. This course emphasizes the skills needed to successfully complete Andover’s upper-level history electives. It will share with other humanities classes an interest in how language and evidence are used—and misused—to make arguments. Our primary focus will be learning how to research and write persuasive essays and papers, and we will benefit from frequent visits and access to the campus’s Oliver Wendell Holmes Library. This course is organized around a series of contemporary themes: the duties and obligations of citizens in the 21st century, global poverty, human rights, and war and peace.

Matt Hession

Matt Hession

Instructor of History on the Maguerite Capen Hearsey Teaching Foundation, Assistant Coach Girls' Varsity Hockey, Complementary House Counselor, Academic Advisor [email protected] view full profile

Mr. Hession arrived at Andover in 2005 and has taught a range of courses in the History Department. His primary responsibility includes teaching U.S. History and two senior electives, House Divided: History of Political Polarization, Nixon to Obama and History of 1968: Year in Crisis.


House Divided: Political Polarization, Nixon to Obama | HSS573

With ever-deepening divisions along partisan, ideology, and identity lines, this history course examines political polarization from Nixon to Obama. To explore whether the country has indeed entered a Second Civil War, the course draws from multiple historical developments associated with this era of political polarization. The course first examines how electoral politics and campaign strategies since 1972 and thereafter significantly transformed American conservatism and liberalism, impacting the political fortunes of the Republican and Democratic parties. The course will evaluate how the politics of race, identity, and economic inequality contributed to Republican and Democratic Party orthodoxy and what factors, if any, disrupted tribal affiliation in the era.

Additionally, coursework will consider the grassroots nature of political polarization and how historical developments such as the rights revolution, family politics, tax revolts, the war on drugs, and suburban politics influenced the country’s bitter partisan and cultural divide in the past quarter-century. Finally, the course will assess how cable news, talk radio, and the internet both exacerbated partisan divides and stoked backlash, paranoia, and conspiratorial thinking. Student assessment includes in-class written work, out-of-class paper(s), a moderate-length research paper, and participation in class discussion.

Keri Lambert Headshot

Keri Lambert

Instructor of History and Social Science, House Counselor, Head Coach of Girls Cross Country and Track & Field [email protected] view full profile

Across all parts of her job, Dr. Lambert's goals are to support students to make sense of perspectives different from their own, challenge students to become critical thinkers and thoughtful community members, and empower students to realize that they can be agents who make tomorrow's history.


Storied Environments: African Environmental History Since 1800 | HSS516

Outside of Africa, many people’s limited exposure to African environments comes from intermittent coverage of climate change in the New York Times, movies like The Lion King, or television shows such as The Grand Tour. As a result, fictitious and facile depictions of Africa shroud many people’s understanding of African environments and how people’s interactions with them have changed over time amid colonialism, racial capitalism, decolonization, and climate change. Storied Environments deconstructs simple, pervasive, and racist narratives of, for example, deforestation and public health crises in sub-Saharan Africa, to more critically explore the ways in which people’s interactions with Africa’s environments and natural resources have influenced the course of history there since 1800.

Students will explore Africa’s peopled environments and their histories through a variety of case studies across four core units that examine the controversial politics of land conservation and eco-tourism, the extraction of raw materials during the early colonial period, the environmental dimensions of national governments’ nation-building efforts after independence, and grassroots responses to a 21st-century epidemic. At the term’s end, students will be tasked with selecting, investigating, and historicizing a final environmental issue facing Africa and Africans. Throughout the term, students will continuously scrutinize the power dynamics that have determined who has written—and who continues to be empowered to write—Africa’s narrative(s).

Sample Courses

The United States | HSS 300

To understand the present, one must study the past. In this three-term course, students will examine the history of the United States from the 15th and 16th centuries to the early 21st century. Within this temporal span, students will engage with a diverse range of historical voices and experiences.

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | HSS 509

Through the study of the historical production and contemporary interpretation of the categories of “woman” and “man,” “female” and “male,” “heterosexual” and “homosexual,” we will seek to better understand how gender-based inequalities have evolved and are both supported and simultaneously contested in societies across the world.

History of the Middle East | HSS 531

Students will examine the age of colonialism in the region, the rise of nationalism, the impact of WWI, the impact of Palestinian and Israeli nationalism, and the significance of secular ideologies such as Arab nationalism and socialism.




students in the average class


artifacts, photographs, and documents at the Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology

Teaching Fellows

  • Ariba Naqvi
  • Erica Nork

Related Student Clubs

The Philomathean Society

The Phillipian

The Revere

PA Model UN