Social studies is the "integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence," as defined by the U.S. American National Council for the Social Studies. Social studies is most commonly recognized as the name of a course or set of courses taught in primary and secondary schools or elementary, middle, and secondary schools, but may also refer to the study of aspects of human society at certain post-secondary and tertiary schools around the globe. Many such courses are interdisciplinary and draw upon various fields, including sociology but also political science, history, economics, religious studies, geography, psychology, anthropology, and civics. At Harvard University, social studies is offered as an undergraduate major.
At the elementary school level, social studies generally focuses first on the local community and family. By middle and high school, the social studies curriculum becomes more discipline-based and content-specific. Social studies varies greatly as a subject between countries and curricula and is not synonymous with sociology or social science; some courses borrow heavily from the social and political sciences, whereas others are created independently for schools.
This subject appears in different countries' syllabus with a similar content, but in different names. An example is the subject Liberal Studies, or the former Integrated Humanities in Hong Kong.
- "About the National Council for the Social Studies". Retrieved 2009-08-31.