End of the AP World: School discontinues course

Abigail Salzhauer, Staff Writer

Due to drastic curriculum changes made by the College Board, Advanced Placement (AP) World History will no longer be taught at the school beginning next year after being offered for nearly 20 years.

The change, announced by the College Board in July of 2018, will move the starting date of the curriculum from 8000 BCE up to 1200 CE, eliminating several hundred years of history, Upper Division History Department Chair Dr. Daniel Link said. As a result, the course will be framed from a more European perspective, and will eliminate the study of many of the Afro-Eurasian ancient societies, he said.

According to a report posted on the College Board website in July, the current course covers too large a span of time, and teachers were not able to adequately teach each time period. As a result, “students’ essay scores on the end-of-year AP Exam have reflected that overwhelming challenge,” the College Board reported.

The change has been met with pushback from history teachers nationwide, history teacher Dr. Ellen Bales said.

The new course eliminates very important time periods and considerations of geographic areas and civilizations, and these eliminations are problematic, Upper Division History Department Chair Dr. Daniel Link said.

“Starting the class with Europeans increasing global contact places Europeans at the center of the narrative and disregards the fact that societies flourished in Africa and Asia before European contact,” Mayanka Dhingra (11), a current AP World student, said. 

“The problem with this for anybody who has been thinking about world history at all is that it then becomes a class about how Europe takes over the rest of the world,” Bales said.

The changes would also require teachers to completely restructure their curriculum, history teacher Dr. Susan Groppi said.

Given that the school is moving away from APs over the course of the next few years, the department believed it was fitting to discontinue the course now, Link said. 

“Discontinuing the class is a bittersweet feeling, but teaching the class the way the College Board is currently envisioning doesn’t fit the educational needs of our department or our students,” Groppi said. 

Margalit Patry-Martin (11), a current AP World student, believes that changing the curriculum contradicts the objectives of the course.

“Through studying ancient history, we have been able to study alternative ways of living and alternative governments, and we have been able to study trends that are thousands of years old,” Patry-Martin said. “Without starting at pre-agricultural societies, we would not get to learn the wide variety of perspectives that world history offers,” she said.

Grace Ermias (11), a current AP World student, believes the shift in focus will narrow student perspectives on history, she said.

“The new timeline means that it’s a Eurocentric world history, which is unfortunate because my experience with the class is that it changes the way that you think about things, particularly in your context of understanding world events,” she said.

Next year, AP World will be replaced by the elective course Global Environmental History, which will survey the history of the human relationship with non-human nature, beginning with hunter-gatherers and continuing up to present-day.

The course will center on four major turning points to study the human race’s relationship with climate change on a global scale.

Abigail Kraus (12), who took AP World last year, believes shortening the time period studied diminishes understanding of how civilizations formed.

“You end up missing landmark events in the development of human society,” she said.