Cristo Rey Boston High School

Humanities » Overview



Our History and Religion teachers educate students to be critical thinkers and reflective students. The department believes in the primary importance of historical study, but the curriculum complements the historical framework with data and skills from social sciences. To this end we strive to lead our students to make independent decisions consistent with their moral values and the principles of the democratic society in which they live; we encourage them to develop a lively curiosity about the past so they may better understand the present; we instruct them in the inquiry and communications skills needed to continue critical examination and evaluation throughout their lives. Finally, our teaching methods emphasize the importance of analyzing and evaluating international, political, economic, and social issues in an attitude of justice and understanding. It is our hope that our students will leave our school as informed, sympathetic, and active participants in their varied communities. 


This course provides an in-depth analysis of the Bible through thoughtful examination of both the Old and New Testaments.  Students begin with an exploration of the creation stories in Genesis and continue with a study of the early Israelite kingdom with special emphasis on the kings and prophets preceding Christ.  In the second half of the course, students gain a historical, theological, and personal understanding of Jesus Christ. Through knowledge of Jesus and his ministry, students explore the meaning of life and what it means to be human according to Jesus’ teachings.  This guides their personal reflection on their own spiritual growth and faith life. 


This course starts with a survey of important historical developments and trends from ancient history and follows their development through the twentieth century.  Students study the growth and interaction of civilizations in ancient Greece, Rome, and medieval Europe.  They continue by tracing the development of political structures in Western Europe during the Enlightenment and by exploring the role of revolution in shaping the modern nation state.  The focus continues on the Industrial Revolution and the rise of socialism in the modern world. The final phase of the course is dominated by the study of the Russian Revolution, World War I, and World War II, concluding with twentieth century topics such as the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  These themes are addressed through critical reading of historical sources, clear and persuasive writing, thoughtful analysis, and in-depth research culminating in two major research projects. 


This course explores the diversity of religious thought and philosophy by introducing students to the various cultures of the world. Students are challenged to respond to the varied and sometimes controversial aspects of these faiths.  Over the course of the year, students examine varying traditions and philosophies with particular emphasis on Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.  In order to better understand the contemporary religious landscape, students also learn about relevant geographical and sociological issues.  Through personal reflection, students continually make connections between these faiths and Catholicism so they can develop a unified, coherent vision of Truth. 


The History of Human Thought is a topically oriented introduction to some of the central questions that have long perplexed human minds. Students will read and discuss both historical and contemporary reflections on such questions as: How should we live? Is there such a thing as an objective right and wrong? What is the ultimate nature of reality, and can we ever know it? Do human beings have an enduring self, and if so, what is its nature? Do we have free will? Though students in this course will read many classic historical texts, the goal of the course is not merely to learn about the history of philosophy, but to begin thinking through these core human questions for themselves. In the process, they will also develop important critical thinking skills, and a greater ability to discover and support their own views through argument and reasoning. 


Ethics deals with the moral dimensions of human experience and provides a frame of reference for critical reflection and analysis.  The course begins by defining what ethics is and by examining the history of philosophy and ethics.  Students analyze religious, historical, and political texts in order to understand virtue ethics, ethics of duty, and utilitarianism.  Then they transition from secular ethical systems to a study of Christian ethics and sacramental life.  In the second part of the course, students grapple with topics in bioethics including contraception, abortion, euthanasia, biogenetics, and death penalty.  Participation in class discussions is an integral part of the course which aims to give students the experience of a college-level seminar. 


This course explores the design of the American political system and how people behave politically. The emphasis of the course is on our institutions of government, the people who run them, the public policies developed in them, and the influences of the electorate on their policies. In addition to developing an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the American political system, students will explore their own political values as well as their rights and responsibilities as citizens.