Strengthening Democracy in America

Strengthening Democracy in America is a collection of free courses featuring video interviews with noted scholars. These courses will deepen your understanding of the American political system and your rights and responsibilities in it. The first two courses provide a framework for understanding the history and development of the system. Subsequent courses focus on its strengths and weaknesses and means of enhancing the strengths and diminishing the weaknesses. The courses are open to anyone and can be completed at your own pace.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Books

We the People Open Course

This course takes you from the philosophical foundations of the U.S. Constitution through the modern interpretation and application of its ideals. You will find videos of noted scholars explaining key aspects of the Constitution and online exercises to check for understanding. The course follows the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution Level 3 (high school) textbook, which has been used throughout the country to further understanding of our government and its fundamental principles.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Assessments

60-Second Civics Podcasts

60-Second Civics is a podcast that provides a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn about our nation’s government, the Constitution, and our history. The podcast explores themes related to civics and government, the constitutional issues behind the headlines, and the people and ideas that formed our nation’s history and government. The show’s content is primarily derived from the Center for Civic Education’s education for democracy curricula, including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, Foundations of Democracy, and Elements of Democracy. It’s easy to subscribe! Listen on iTunes or Stitcher or subscribe via RSS.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Audio

Citizenship and the U.S. Constitution

In this lesson students will examine the concept of “citizen” from a definitional perspective of what a citizen is and from the perspective of how citizenship is conferred in the United States. Students will discuss the rights and responsibilities of citizens and non-citizens and review the changing history of citizenship from colonial times to the present.

Abraham Lincoln and Executive Power

This lesson traces the rise of Abraham Lincoln from his humble beginnings to the presidency. It examines Lincoln’s ideas and decisions regarding slavery and the use of presidential power to preserve the Union during the Civil War. After the lesson, students should be able to explain how Lincoln overcame daunting disadvantages to become a great president, analyze and evaluate his decisions in response the critical constitutional issues of the Civil War, and understand and appreciate his legacy to American constitutionalism and citizenship.

Grades 9, 10
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

The Power of Nonviolence: Rosa Parks: A Quest for Equal Protection Under the Law

This lesson asks students to revisit the well-known story of a figure in the civil rights movement–Rosa Parks–through the primary source documents associated with her arrest in 1955. The arrest occurred in the shadow of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) and had a powerful impact on the public policy of segregation and the application of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Grades 5, 6, 7, 8
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Lesson Plans

What Fundamental Ideas About Government Do Americans Share?

In this lesson, you will examine some of the fundamental ideas about government that are contained in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. When you have completed this lesson, you should be able to explain those ideas and identify which ideas the class holds in common. If you support these ideas, you will be given an opportunity to go online and add your signature to those of the Founders of our nation who signed the original documents.

Grades 6-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans