Civic Spirit: “We the Educators,” A Virtual Civics Symposium
This week, Civic Spirit wraps up its virtual civics symposium for high school and middle school teachers, “We the Educators.” The sessions, focused on topics in civic belonging, democratic fluency, and skills of engaged citizenship, encouraged and equipped educators to explore and apply these concepts in their own classrooms. Several JMC faculty partners were featured as session speakers, including Lucas Morel, Susan McWilliams Barndt, Vincent Phillip Muñoz, and Roosevelt Montás.
Scroll down to view some of the sessions and learn more about Civic Spirit:
“In a Strange Country: The Challenge of American Inclusion” with Lucas Morel
This seminar discussed Ralph Ellison’s (very) short story, “In a Strange Country” (1944). A precursor to the author’s instant classic, Invisible Man (1952), the short story depicts a black serviceman on shore leave in Wales during World War II. After he gets mugged by white servicemen, a Welshman comes to his aid and invites him to a private singing club. The story traces the inward musings of the “black Yank” (as he is called by the Welshman), who comes to appreciate the Welsh. His experiences that evening and back home move him to reflect upon his ambiguous status as a black American fighting for a country that has yet to accept him as an equal citizen. The story provokes important and timely questions about how to close the gap between American principles and practices and thereby promote greater inclusion of all members of the American citizenry.
“Alexis de Tocqueville:Democracy in America, Today” with Susan McWilliams Barndt
Almost 200 years ago, a young Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States on a trip and ended up writing a book — Democracy in America — that is still regarded as one of the smartest books (if not THE smartest book) ever written about American politics and culture. What can we learn from Tocqueville about American democracy today? How can he help us understand not just the strengths but the weaknesses of our democratic system? And how can he help us understand how to be the best democratic citizens we can be?
“Does the Constitution Mandate a Wall of Separation Between Church and State?” with Vincent Phillip Muñoz
This seminar explored why the Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment requires the “separation of church and state.” Participants discussed criticisms of separationist jurisprudence by leading Supreme Court justices. In an attempt to understand the degree to which the Supreme Court has accurately interpreted the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom, the group also carefully examined James Madison’s philosophical and constitutional thinking about religious freedom and how it might be best protected.
“Frederick Douglass’s 1852 Speech: What Does It Mean to be an American?” with Roosevelt Montás
Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech on the “Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro” offers a sweeping analysis of the contradictions at the heart of the American national project. The animating question for Douglass is, “What Does it Mean to be an African American?” His approach to that question sheds light on the even more fundamental question: “What Does it Mean to be an American?” The speech is profoundly relevant today as we stand at another defining moment in our nation’s history.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 – Thursday, March 11, 2021
From the organization:
“Civic Spirit educates, inspires, and empowers schools across faith traditions to enhance civic belonging and responsibility in their student, faculty, and parent communities.
Through professional support and student programs, Civic Spirit prepares the next generation to be knowledgeable, ethical, and active participants in the civic life of their community and the political life of our democracy.”
Civic Spirit is a JMC partner.
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