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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:

  • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) published an excellent Civics Project Guidebook to support implementation of the 2018 law. Updated 2020! 
  • See the Mass DESE History & Social Science instruction resources page
  • The Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition came together to pass the 2018 civic engagement law and now works to support implementation. 
  • 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. 
  • Emerging America's 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 updates on Civic Engagement policy, programs, and resources. 
  • iCivics offers a number of Massachusetts-specific guides and materials


Accessing Civics with ALL Learners

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


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

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…
What is fascism? Where did it come from? How does it impact human rights? What is anti-fascism and how did it arise? How did ideology shape the Spanish Civil Wa…
Fully Online: Course runs Feb 19 - April 2, 2021. Social Studies and Humanities pose distinct challenges for struggling learners. Extensive discipline-specific…