Civic Engagement and Citizen Education

(A Project-Based AP US Government class)

We the People text




Many scholars and journalists argue that the United States has entered a generation of politics that is so cynical and pessimistic, it threatens the very existence of our democratic form of government. Civic engagement continues to decline and "politics" are continuously maligned in the media and by political pundits from both ends of the political spectrum. In this course, we will focus on coming up with the knowledge, skills, and values we as a class think are essential for reigniting the civic spirit in the millennial generation (this may even include embracing the art of "politics"). Students will both theorize and practice citizenship through a series of project-based exercises. They will be expected to practice many of the academic skills required of an informed citizenry and will, therefore, think critically, question consistently, read voraciously, and write intensively. Because this is an advanced placement course, we will also give a nod toward preparing for the AP exam in May, but we will not be learning with only the exam in mind. Students who are intent on taking the exam, should plan to spend extra time studying for it outside of class. Instead of focusing solely on intensive content memorization, we will spend our time engaged in debates, discussions, and deliberations on a wide variety of political issues. In the first semester, students will also work with students from other classes on a citizen problem-solving project on the issue of water in Tucson. In the second semester, students will write a graduate-level (and length) policy paper grounded in the principles of Constitutional Law. I suspect that, in the end, we will all have become more informed and more engaged citizens, at least that is my hope and my objective.

Dave: 2011 with Presidential Campaign Project; 2010 with USAID project; Sample Schedule for 2nd Semester Const Law and Policy; another one