Web Definitions of "Social Studies"

Institute of Educational Sciences,
U.S. Department of Education

A group of instructional programs that describes the substantive portions of behavior, past and present activities, interactions, and organizations of people associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes.

Prentice Hall

The integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence, including the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world. Social studies draws upon anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences.

Government of Alberta

Social studies is the study of people in relation to each other and to their world. It is an interdisciplinary subject that draws upon many disciplines, including history, geography, economics, law, and political science. Social studies focuses on people's relationships with their social, physical, spiritual, cultural, economic, political, and technological environments. Social studies helps students become active and responsible citizens within their communities, locally, nationally, and globally, in a complex and changing world.


Social studies is a term used to describe the broad study of the various fields which involve past and current human behavior and interactions. Skills students are meant to learn in social studies include: good citizenship, critical thinking, problem solving, cosmopolitanism, and conservation.

Social studies aims to educate students to become caring, well informed citizens; realizing and connecting the social studies to one's sense of freedom and everyday lifestyle; examining the "code of behavior" within one's diverse society [e.g., morals, values, rule/law].

The social studies can be taught using the constructivist approach. This includes teaching that is intended to refine students' prior knowledge, develop inquiry skills through higher order and critical thinking, and lead to students developing opinions about the world around them.