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The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University has partnered with civic education provider iCivics and two prominent universities as part of a major grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education.
The NEH, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, has awarded a $650,000 cooperative agreement to a collaborative of experts who will work together to design a roadmap to prepare K–12 students for America’s constitutional democracy.
"Educating for American Democracy: A Roadmap for Excellence in History and Civics Education for All Learners" will bring together more than 100 leading academics and practitioners in education, civics, history and political science to set out a foundation for understanding and teaching American history and civics. The project will issue a roadmap that will outline high-priority civics content areas and make clear and actionable recommendations for integrating the teaching of civics and history at every grade level, along with best practices and implementation strategies that teachers, schools, districts and states can use to shape their instructional programs.
The roadmap will develop the foundation from which to prepare all students to understand the value of America’s constitutional democracy as well as its past failures and present challenges. The goal is to design a program that will secure a strong commitment to and sense of ownership of that democracy in K–12 students.
Educating for American Democracy will rely on the expertise of the teams at ASU, Harvard University and Tufts University and will utilize iCivics’ community of more than 100,000 teachers as well as partner communities for field testing to ensure that the roadmap is a practical and useful document in the classroom. It will draw upon the collective network of CivXNow, a coalition of 113 organizations and foundations dedicated to improving civic education in order to disseminate the curriculum.
“Our republic faces deep partisan and philosophical polarization, while understanding of and trust in America’s democratic institutions are low — especially among younger citizens," said Paul Carrese, director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. "Our interdisciplinary and balanced team of scholars and civic educators believes that greater priority for civics education, tailored to 21st-century students, can improve our civic debates and politics. We’re excited to help lead this national effort to prepare informed and engaged citizens by providing quality American history and civics education for all learners.”
The Educating for American Democracy project will hold two convenings in the spring of 2020; one at Arizona State University and one at Louisiana State University. It will then issue a report, prior to a National Forum to be co-hosted by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History and the National Archives and Records Administration Foundation in September 2020 in Washington, D.C.
“As the United States looks toward our 250th anniversary as a nation in 2026, it is critical that our K–12 educational system teaches the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the democratic principles on which the country was founded,” NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede said. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is pleased to be working with Educating for American Democracy to identify ways to improve the teaching and learning of American history and government so that all students gain an appreciation of the workings of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.”
The Educating for American Democracy project responds to an NEH-Education Department call for proposals for a 15-month project that would highlight innovative approaches, learning strategies and professional development practices in K–12 civics education, with an emphasis on activities and programs that benefit low-income and underserved populations.
The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership is an academic unit inside The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. In its third academic year, the school combines a liberal arts education with outside-the-classroom learning experiences to prepare its students for leadership roles in the 21st century. The school has also developed a robust public programming schedule in its Civic Discourse Project, which addresses the pressing issues of our times, and is aired on PBS Arizona.