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In the PYP, Social Studies is viewed as the study of people in relation to their past, their present and their future, their environment and their society. Social Studies encourages curiosity and develops an understanding of a rapidly changing world. Through social studies, students develop an understanding of their personal and cultural identities. They develop the skills and knowledge needed to participate actively in their classroom, their school, their community and the world: to understand themselves in relation to their communities. The aim of Social Studies within the PYP is to promote intercultural understanding and respect for individuals and their values and traditions. In support of the IB mission statement, the Social Studies component of the PYP curriculum encourages students to “understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right”.

The Role of Social Studies in the Programme of Inquiry

Teaching and learning Social Studies as a subject, while necessary, is not sufficient. Of equal importance is learning Social Studies in context, exploring content relevant to students, and transcending the boundaries of the traditional subject area. The trans-disciplinary themes provide the framework for a highly defined, focused, in-depth Programme of Inquiry. The social studies knowledge and the application of that knowledge will enhance inquiries into the central ideas defined by the trans-disciplinary themes.

Social studies strands

Human systems and Economic Activities

The study of how and why people construct organizations and systems; the ways in which people connect locally and globally; the distribution of power and authority.

Social Organization and Culture

The study of people, communities, cultures and societies; the ways in which individuals, groups and societies interact with each other.

Continuity and Change through Time

The study of the relationships between people and events through time; the past, its influences on the present and its implications for the future; people who have shaped the future through their actions.

Human and Natural Environments

The study of the distinctive features that give a place its identity; how people adapt to and alter their environment; how people experience and represent place; the impact of natural disasters on people and the built environment.

Resources and the Environment

The interaction between people and the environment; the study of how humans allocate and manage resources; the positive and negative effects of this management; the impact of scientific and technological developments on the environment.

Source: Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education 2009