Civic Education Outreach

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

Civic Education Outreach

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.

Spring 2017 Course: Liberty

A new series of graduate courses for high school teachers is offered through Lake Forest College’s Master of Liberal Studies Program. High school teachers are encouraged to apply for the spring 2017 course “Liberty”.

  • Meets Saturdays from 10am-12pm at Lake Forest College (starting date: January 21st)
  • 4 hours of graduate credit or 60 PD hours
  • Free tuition for working high school teachers
  • 7 face-to-face meetings, the remainder of the course online
  • Teachers may take as a standalone course or matriculate into the MLS program
  • Ideal for American history, government, or civics teachers given the new Illinois civics requirement
  • Taught by Siobhan Moroney, Associate Professor of Politics at Lake Forest College

Course Description: Throughout the history of western ideas, the concept of liberty is a relatively modern one; we can trace its development from the English Enlightenment to the 21st century. We will explore the idea of liberty as a political, economic, cultural and social standard, including markets, individual rights, conflicts between equality and freedom, international relations, psychological explorations of freedom, conflicts between states, and individual liberties.

Throughout the course, we will apply theoretical constructs to real problems, looking at public policy and Supreme Court law.  How can liberty be applied to America’s discussions of personal rights, including First Amendment liberties, sexuality, and abortion? Does freedom require the government to avoid infringing on individual autonomy, or must the government actively protect an individual’s autonomy? If so, how is the balance between government interference and individual autonomy struck?  Does economic freedom require political freedom? Seven class meetings, with the rest of the course work carried out online.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Or call 847-735-5083 or email Carol Gayle, Associate Director of the MLS program, (

Individual Rights and the Constitution

The ADEF is a program of the American Democracy Forum in partnership with the UW-Madison School of Education. It offers 7th-12th grade teachers the opportunity to gather in person and online to discuss primary text readings, hear from scholarly experts, and plan new curriculum on key themes in American political thought, American government, and American history.

ADEF is offered at no cost to teachers, including the cost of tuition for two graduate credits, reimbursement for substitute teacher coverage, lodging, transportation, and meals.

Participants in the American Democracy Educators’ Forum will:

  • discuss principles and practice of American democracy with leading scholars and faculty from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and beyond
  • participate in four face-to-face meetings (August 8-9, 2016, one day each in December and April, TBD) and various online content throughout the school year
  • become part of a professional learning community that will inform and enhance current educational practices
  • earn two graduate credits from UW-Madison

In 2016-2017, we will explore the Bill of Rights as a way to think about the place of individual liberties in the American political experience as well as draw upon the National Constitution Center’s new Interactive Constitution (

Click here for more information.

Newberry Library Summer Seminars

Working in partnership with the Newberry Library and the Montesquieu Forum at Roosevelt, JMC is conducting a series of professional development seminars for high school teachers.

The first of the series was held July 2016:

The Drama of the American Political Experience: Historical, Philosophical, and Contemporary Perspectives

In partnership with Roosevelt University and the Newberry Library, high school teachers attended a week-long professional development seminar at the Newberry Library. Topics focused on the historical and philosophical roots of the American political system, with special attention to illuminating contemporary issues through the use of primary source materials.

The program provided preparation for teaching civics, as well as American history and government classes. JMC faculty partners led the discussions, guiding Chicagoland high school teachers in analyzing and interpreting crucial documents of the Founding era.

Topics included religious freedom, the second amendment, property and the pursuit of happiness, race and equality, and America’s place in global politics. Guided tours of the Newberry Library’s holdings and the Art Institute were included.

Teachers received 25 hours of PD credit, and graduate credit was offered through Roosevelt.

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.