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Civics Education

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High school student aids teachers in curriculum writing.
2018 Civics Education Institute       

Civic Engagement, service-learning and other forms of community-based learning engage diverse learners in authentic work that profoundly motivates because it matters in the world. Emerging America Director, Rich Cairn, has been a national leader in this field since the 1980s. 

Massachusetts civics legislation in 2018 strengthened K-12 civics, requiring that every learner have opportunities for student led civic engagement projects in grade 8 and in high school. Also in 2018, the Massachusetts Board of Education passed a History and Social Science Framework that focuses on civics and inquiry. Emerging America has served as an advocate for Students with Disabilities throughout this effort. 

Emerging America offers resources to teachers to develop courses and lessons that pair content knowledge with inquiry and fundamental citizenship skills. For current Emerging America courses and workshops click here


Essential Civics Resources:

  • Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) History & Social Science instruction resources page
    • Civics Project Guidebook to support implementation of the 2018 law. Updated October 2020! - THIS GUIDE IS EXCELLENT! - RCairn
  • The Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition united to pass the 2018 civic engagement law.
  • Emerging America's Windows on History Local History program offers opportunities to pursue civic engagement when students research issues of historic and contemporary interest in their own community. 
  • Search the library of Teaching Resources for accessible civics lessons and classroom activities.
  • Find discussions on Civic Engagement policy, programs, and teaching supports in our blog.  
  • Sign up for our bi-weekly History eNews for updates. Use "Contact Us" button on this page. 


Accessing Civics with ALL Learners

More than 500 teachers have completed Emerging America's graduate level Accessing Inquiry courses. Our Accessing Civic Engagement for Students with Disabilities offers support for full participation of all learners in Civic Engagement projects: 


Library of Congress TPS Civics Apps

Several of Emerging America's fellow members of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Consortium have developed apps on civics education, linked at the website of Barat’s Citizen U, and listed below:

The Barat Education Foundation

Citizen U is a multidisciplinary, inquiry-based civics curriculum using primary sources for elementary, middle, and high school students to foster civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

Bean Creative

Case Maker features twenty pre-made civics challenges that teachers can share with their 6th-8th-grade students, or customize and annotate specifically for their needs.


DBQuest introduces students to major questions in civics and history using a Big Question as guiding light for deep examination of three selected primary sources from the Library.

Indiana University CORG

Engaging Congress is a fun, interactive game that uses primary sources to explore the basic tenets of representative government and the challenges they face in contemporary society.

Muzzy Lane Software


Kid Citizen features episodes in which children interactively explore Congress and civic engagement through historical primary sources, connecting what they find with their daily lives.

George Mason University Eagle Eye Citizen
"logo for Eagle Eye Citizen"

Eagle Eye Citizen is a digital resource that helps middle and high school students think critically about Congress, civic participation, and American history using primary sources from the Library.

Upcoming Workshops

Course runs April-May 2021, and introduces exemplars of best practice pedagogy for English Learners in History and Social Studies classrooms. It demonstrates du…
ONLINE: (PDPs available) Are you looking for K-5 History curriculum that meets content and skill standards, engages students in inquiry remote or in-person, and…
This 3-credit graduate course, taught by master teacher Kelley Brown with constitutional scholar David Hudson, will look at privacy through the exploration of t…