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Civics Education

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

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

As part of a K-12 reform to strengthen civics education, Massachusetts passed a law in 2018 to require that every learner have opportunities to participate in civic engagement projects in grade 8 and in high school. (Chapter 296 of the Acts of 2018, an Act to promote and enhance civic engagement. Link to the law here.) Learn more about the campaign for the law and for funding to support it: Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition

Emerging America offers resources to teachers for developing Civics lessons, planning courses that pair content knowledge with inquiry skills and practices that are fundamental to citizenship, and shaping community engagement projects for maximum educational value. For current Emerging America courses and workshops click here

Accessing Civics with ALL Learners

More than 500 teachers have completed Emerging America's graduate level Accessing Inquiry courses. In 2020, our new program–Accessing Civic Engagement–supports full participation of all learners in Civic Engagement projects. 

Online Civics Resources:

  • Click here for the extensive K-12 Social Studies and Civics resource site developed by Emerging America in 2018 for  the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, now maintained by the Tisch Center for Civic Life at Tufts University. 
  • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education published an excellent Civics Project Guidebook to support implementation of the 2018 law.
  • The Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition website offers a wealth of materials, training, and partnership resources. 
  • Local History Projects offer an opportunity to pursue civic engagement by researching issues of historic and contemporary interest to students’ own community. Projects can allow students to try out, sharpen, and show off skills that tap and extend conventional classroom skills. Learn from Emerging America’s decades of direct experience leading civic engagement projects in its Windows on History program.
  • library of Teaching Resources: for support in developing Civics lessons, use the check boxes and search window to select grade level, time period, subject, and key words for primary source sets and sample lesson plans.
  • The blog and History eNews offer frequent updates on Civic Engagement policy, programs, and resources. 


Library of Congress TPS Civics Apps

Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources consortium members 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

How can teachers engage their students with study of civic life, agency and community? By studying the history of post-Reconstruction American institutions and…
Course runs Oct 19 - Dec. 5, 2020, and introduces exemplars of best practice pedagogy for English Learners in History and Social Studies classrooms. It demonstr…
From the American colonial era to the 21st century, people with disabilities experienced a revolution in status from objects of religious benevolence to wards o…