Individuals and Societies

Individuals and Societies (Social Studies) in the PYP

In the PYP students explore units of inquiry. Studies around human systems and economic activities develop an understanding of how and why people construct organizations and systems, connect locally and globally, and distribute power and authority. By studying social organization and culture, students develop an understanding of people, communities, cultures and societies, and the ways in which individuals, groups and societies interact with each other. Continuity and change through time is studied through units about the relationships between people and events, while units about human and natural environments consider how distinctive features give a place its identity and influence how people respond by adapting to or altering their environment. Additionally, students study the ideas around resources and the environment, considering the interaction between people and the environment, how we allocate and manage resources, and the impact of our management and of scientific and technological developments on the environment.

The aims of social studies in the PYP are to encourage and enable students to:

  • recognize different aspects of human society, focusing on themselves and others within their own community, as well as groups of people that are distant in time and place
  • develop an understanding of how and why groups are organized within communities, and how participation within groups involves both rights and responsibilities, and also the interdependency of systems and their function within local and national communities.
  • appreciate how cultural groups may vary in their customs and practices, but reflect similar purposes
  • understand how people influence, and are influenced by, places in the environment
  • realize the significance of developing a sense of belonging and stewardship towards the environment, and valuing and caring for it in the interests of themselves and future generations
  • develop a clear understanding of time, recognizing how ideas and actions of people in the past have changed the lives of others, and appreciating how the past is recorded and remembered in different ways
  • understanding how and why people manage resources
  • understand the impact of technological advances on their own lives, society and the world, and reflect on the need to make responsible decisions concerning the use of technologies


Individuals and Societies in the MYP

We expect students to have both an awareness of different peoples and environments, and to have respect for them, too–past, present and future. MYP individuals and societies encourages students to consider local and global contexts, and incorporates disciplines traditionally studied under the general term “the humanities” (such as history and philosophy), as well as disciplines in the social sciences (such as economics, business management, geography, sociology and political science). At each year level students are encouraged to acquire and develop ideas, skills and conceptual understandings as part of the inquiry process. Students engage with exciting, stimulating and personally relevant topics and issues. The study of individuals and societies helps students to critically appreciate the diversity of human culture, attitudes and beliefs.

The aims of MYP individuals and societies are to encourage and enable students to:

  • appreciate human and environmental commonalities and diversity
  • understand the interactions and interdependence of individuals, societies and the environment
  • understand how both environmental and human systems operate and evolve
  • identify and develop concern for the well-being of human communities and the natural environment
  • act as responsible citizens of local and global communities
  • develop inquiry skills that lead towards conceptual understandings of the relationships between individuals, societies and the environments in which they live.


Individuals and Societies in the DP

In Group 3 of the Diploma Programme, students have the option to study business management, economics, geography, history or psychology. Business and management involves an introduction to business terminology and concepts, and focuses on analysis, decision making and action. Students learn how to present and sell ideas and products, and study five modules comprising marketing, finance, business organization, human resources and operations, and production management.

Economics provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical economics with an emphasis on global and international awareness. Four areas of theory–microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics, development economics–are studied, and theoretical reasoning, data analysis and argument construction are developed. Geography in the Diploma Programme develops an understanding of the interrelationships between people, place and the environment, with a focus on contemporary issues. The core themes are populations in transition, patterns in environmental quality and sustainability, disparities in wealth and development, and patterns in resource consumption. Additionally, there are optional units on food and health; leisure, sport and tourism; and urban environments.

History involves the study of 20th century world history through the present, including the nationalist and independence movements in Africa and Asia post-1945, communism in crisis, and the Cold War. There is flexibility depending on student interest in other topics. The course uses a mixture of sources, including textbooks, scholarly works, internet, videos and primary sources, with the focus on the analysis and evaluation of historical sources and arguments, research of historical topics, discussion, and the construction of essays. Psychology requires the study of mental processes and behaviour, and how these are affected by internal processes and the environment. The course addresses the evaluation of psychological theories and research, with core focuses on the understanding human behavior through biological, cognitive, and sociocultural perspectives. Students will also study either one or two of the following optional units: abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, health psychology, the psychology of  human relationships, and/or sports psychology.