In recent years the Jack Miller Center (JMC) has met hundreds of civics teachers across the country who are eager to foster a free citizenry by bringing their students into the great tradition of discourse on the big ideas of American political life--liberty, equality, justice, rights, and citizenship. And yet if teachers seek to deepen their understanding of these ideas through graduate education, they are unlikely to find relevant courses designed for them at area colleges and universities. Through JMC's Founding Civics Initiative, we aim to transform graduate offerings for civic educators so that, in every region of the country, those who are eager for serious engagement with foundational texts and ideas in the American political tradition are empowered to do so through graduate course programs. We have one such program that has proven successful. This Project asks 1. Can similar programs succeed nationwide? 2. Can they lead to wide-scale transformation in graduate education for civics teachers? We believe they can. This Project will introduce graduate course programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Virginia, and Tufts University. Courses will be taught by JMC partner professors through 2022 and emphasize the big questions in American political life. For many teachers these courses will be their first experience of liberal education, an education vital to free citizenship. To determine their effectiveness JMC will analyze survey data, interview participants, and collect course projects. Following a Capstone Conference with Project stakeholders, we will develop a comprehensive model strategy document that will serve as a roadmap for nationwide expansion. Such content-driven graduate programs for teachers will result in stronger civic education grounded in the American political tradition. Longer term, this Project will reorient the graduate education of civics teachers toward the cultivation of free citizenship.
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