Founding Civics Initiative

Helping high school teachers provide the best civic education for their students

Founding Civics

Founding Civics aims to ensure our nation’s high school students receive a much-needed foundation in the history and principles that formed our nation—a foundation that will prepare them for their responsibilities as citizens.

Founding Civics provides innovative educational programs and resources to help high school teachers engage young students in the central questions of American civic life.

Through seminars, graduate courses, and summer programs led by scholars of American history and political thought, Founding Civics helps teachers deepen their understanding of the central texts and ideas of the American Founding.

Each of the programs brings together professors and teachers to develop curricula for the high school classroom that frame contemporary civic engagement within the broader tradition of American political thought and action.

The Founding Civics Initiative was launched in Chicago with a generous lead gift from The Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation. New initiatives are now underway in New York, Wisconsin and Virginia.

Launched early 2016 in Chicago with a lead gift from The Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation, HLM Founding Civics is a three-year project to provide an array of educational programs and resources for Chicagoland teachers. The programs help teachers integrate documents and ideas of the Founding into their civics curriculum so that students can connect them to current political issues and learn how to think critically about the principles that will guide their participation in civic life.

Working with institutions—including Lake Forest College, University of Chicago, Roosevelt University and the Newberry Library in Chicago along with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia—the Initiative offers professional development and graduate courses along with high-quality course materials for American history, government and civics teachers.

Taught by JMC faculty partners, courses supported by Founding Civics enrich teacher education in our nation’s founding documents and ideas and help teachers draw connections to contemporary debates about government institutions and controversial political issues to teach to their students.

In 2010, JMC sponsored the first of three High School Teachers’ Academies in partnership with the Montesquieu Forum, our partner program at Roosevelt University. Each one-week program of seminars lectures and workshops brought together 20 Chicagoland teachers to deepen their knowledge of texts and documents central to the formation of the U.S. and its institutions. The programs were well-received and set the stage for a full-scale effort at the high-school level.