Rebuilding Civic Education
This initiative brought together hundreds of ideologically, philosophically, and demographically diverse historians, political scientists, and educators, working toward a shared goal to fundamentally improve civics education in the United States.
The constitutional democracy of the United States is in peril, and there is a widespread loss of confidence in government and civic order. Generations of students have not received the high quality education in history and civics that they need, and deserve, to prepare them for informed and engaged citizenship, and the time has come to rebuild civic education.
Leaders of an inspiring and large-scale HIBAR research project, the Educating for American Democracy (EAD) initiative, set out to tackle the challenge of developing a balanced, national-consensus framework and a proposed plan of action for civic and history education. EAD is an unprecedented effort that convened a diverse group of scholars and educators to create a Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy. This required acquiring a deep, evidence-based understanding of key issues from many perspectives and creatively designing, developing, and evaluating new approaches. The roadmap provides guidance and an inquiry framework that states, local school districts, and educators can use to transform teaching of history and civics to meet the needs of a diverse 21st century K–12 student body. The work was supported by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education.
The initiative brought together hundreds of ideologically, philosophically, and demographically diverse historians, political scientists, and educators, working toward a shared goal to fundamentally improve civics education in the United States. The project required multiple task forces and working groups, each one grappling with a key design challenge. The creative tension that resulted from conflicting priorities and perspectives was productively harnessed, leading to energetic debate, new perspectives, and alternative approaches that would not otherwise have been developed. Together, the collaborators learned to approach disagreement and controversy as an opportunity for learning rather than as a problem to be overcome and, in doing so, they achieved much greater consensus than they had anticipated.
This project exemplifies the characteristics of a HIBAR research project. The work integrated a desire to develop an evidence-based understanding of key issues in civic and history education with the public-impact goal in preparing students to become informed, engaged and motivated citizens. The project was co-led by a team of ideologically, philosophically, and demographically diverse historians and educators from outside academia, working closely with scholars in a variety of fields based at a number of universities. Together, the team produced a robust framework that has gained overwhelming support from the K-12 civics and history communities, and well beyond.