There is a renewed sense of urgency around civic education in the U.S., given recent assaults on universal suffrage, on free media, on workers’ rights, on an independent judiciary, and most recently on the U.S. Capitol. There is also agreement that the goals of civic education should be to nurture citizens who are well-informed and productively engaged in their communities and with the broader society. As a result, there is an emerging consensus that our civic education system needs to be reimagined to better serve and empower young people, especially those experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, prejudice, and systemic injustice.
In response to these challenges, the Albert Shanker Institute in partnership with Cornell University’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs, has launched a virtual conference, “Educating for Democratic Citizenship.” The conference will feature a group of accomplished, experienced educators, supported by the Albert Shanker Institute (ASI), who have developed “Action Civics” lessons and materials that we hope will improve teaching and learning of American History, Government, and Civics for teachers and students. This Action Civics approach supports students’ learning about the political process as they identify, research, and take informed action on issues that are important to them. These meaningful learning experiences help young people gain knowledge, develop skills, and grow their motivation for lifelong civic participation.
To this end, the virtual ”Educating for Democratic Citizenship” Conference begins with a kick-off plenary on Bringing International Democracy into the classroom on the afternoon of April 26. This will be followed by the full conference on April 28 and 30, which is designed to showcase the Action Civics approach for a broader audience of educators, administrators, policymakers, researchers, members of the media and others throughout the country. The conference will consist of several plenary sessions by prominent speakers, such as Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA), former Congressmen Steve Israel (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT), and AFT President Randi Weingarten, followed by a series of breakout sessions led by invited experts and our talented ASI civics fellows who will offer more of a practitioners’ approach to teaching civics and democracy.
The Albert Shanker Institute, named in honor of the American Federation of Teachers’ late president, is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to three themes—quality public education, unions as voices for working people, and both civic education and freedom of association in public life of democracies. Its mission is to generate ideas, foster candid exchanges and promote constructive policy proposals related to these issues.
The nonpartisan Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University is the only academically-based institute of politics in the New York City metropolitan area. Its mission is to raise the discourse and deeper understanding of political issues and geopolitics.