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Online Lessons
  • B O R Day
  • California Civics Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Economic Crisis
  • Online Lessons Index
  • Civic Engagement

    A Guide to Effective Citizenship Through AmeriCorps was developed under a cooperative agreement with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and meets their recommendation that programs incorporate citizenship training into their member development plans.

  • School-Based Service Learning

    A series of lessons in which students discuss the meaning of community, the purpose of community service, and how they—and their community—will benefit from it. Students then brainstorm a list of community problems they think are important. Finally, students and teachers work together to plan and complete a community service-learning Action Project.

  • Service-Learning Network News

    Articles, information, book reviews, program profiles and links on service learning from Service-Learning Network, our semiannual publication.

  • War in Iraq

    The war in Iraq raises critical questions for the classroom.  CRF has prepared a focused series of online lessons and research links designed for classroom use.

  • School Violence

    High-profile tragedies such as the recent shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and others have highlighted long-standing concerns about school violence The lessons and resources included in this recently updated and expanded CRF Online curriculm provide readings, activities, and other resources to help introduce the the problem of school violence--and means to address the problem--into a school's education and activities agendas.

  • Reflection on September 11

    In observance of the terrorist attacks, Constitutional Rights Foundation has prepared "Reflecting on September 11," a series of online lessons and resources designed for classroom use.

  • Impeachment

    A comprehensive survey of current and historic issues surrounding impeachment.

  • Giving Back

    A step-by-step manual that applies school-based, community service-learning methods to the needs of youth courts.

  • Foundations of Our Constitution

    Readings, activities, and the complete texts of documents that serve as the foundation for American democracy.

  • Election Central Lessons

    Online resources that helps teachers and students explore the electoral process past and present, in the United States and around the world.

  • Current Issues of Immigration CRF

    CRF has created these lessons and made them available free of charge to educators. The six lesson modules are designed to put the current controversies about unauthorized immigration into historical and political context.

  • Constitution Day

    A series of free online lessons, resources from our catalog, and links to help educators observe Constitution Day.

  • Brown v. Board 50th Anniversary

    A series of online lessons marking the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision.

  • Bill of Rights in Action

    Bill of Rights in Action Archive

    Many lessons on U.S. history, world history, and government from Bill of Rights in Action, CRF's quarterly curricular newsletter. We have published this tremendous resource since 1967, and we continually add to the archive.

    Thank you for a great publication. A fellow teacher pointed me to your Bill of Rights in Action publication. It's nice to have a resource that will put some depth to a topic without overwhelming the kids.

    --Mr. Raj R., Teacher

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    Please scroll down to the view the issues available online or browse the archives by subject:
    Current Issues | Economics | Law | U.S. Government | U.S History | World History


    BRIA 35 Bill of Rights in Action, Fall, 2019 (35:1)  Login to Download PDF 

    • The Census in U.S. History
    • Anne Hutchinson: Midwife of Religious Freedom
    • 270 Votes to Win: The Electoral College in the United States

    Democratic Struggles, Summer, 2019 (34:4)  Login to Download PDF 

    • The Arab Spring and the Challenge of Nation-Building
    • Purged From the Voter Rolls: Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute
    • Suppressing the Vote

    Beneath the Surface, Spring 2019 (34:3) Login to Download PDF 

    • Ida Tarbell and the Muckrakers
    • The Anglo-Zulu War and British Imperialism
    • Will the Mueller Probe End With a Constitutional Crisis?

    Law and Protection, Winter 2019 (34:2) Login to Download PDF 

    • Journalism Under Siege
    • The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
    • Islamic Science in the Middle Ages

    Science Matters, Fall 2018 (34:1) Login to Download PDF 

    • Who Was Hypatia of Alexandria?
    • Cotton Mather and Boston’s Smallpox Inoculation Fight
    • Global Warming and the Paris Agreement

    Uncertain Times, Summer 2018 (33:4) Login to Download PDF 

    • Guns and School Safety: What Is the Best Way Forward?
    • Automation and the American Worker
    • The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

    Facing Challenges, Spring 2018 (33:3) Login to Download PDF 

    • Ida B. Wells and Her Crusade for Racial Justice
    • The Revolutions of 1848
    • The Iran Nuclear Deal and Its Critics

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    Flashpoints, Winter 2018 (33:2) Download PDF

    • What Should the U.S. Do About North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons?
    • The Great Sioux War: Land, Gold, and a Broken Treaty
    • The Dispute Over the South China Sea

     Democracy in the Balance, Fall2017 (33:1) Login to Download PDF

    • How Democratic Was Athens?
    • The Northwest Ordinance and Westward Expansion
    • Is Democracy in Trouble?

    Challenging Ideas, Summer 2017 (32:4) Login to Download PDF

    • Martin Luther King and the Philosophy of Nonviolence

    • Vietnam Today

    • Free Speech on Campus: Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces, and Controversial Speech at U.S. Colleges


    Economic Crisis, Spring 2017
    (32:3) Login to Download PDF

    • The Great Recession: What Were the Causes?

    • The Marquis de Lafayette: A Noble Revolutionary

    • What Caused the Great Depression and Why Did Recovery Take So Long?

    Religion and Society, Winter 2017 (32:2) Login to Download PDF

    • Religion, Political Power, and the Thirty Years’ War

    • The Second Great Awakening and Reform in the 19th Century

    • Prayer at Government Meetings and the First Amendment


    Political Strategies, Fall 2016
    (32:1) Login to Download PDF
    • The Troubled Elections of 1796 and 1800.
    • Cyrus the Great and the Creation of the Persian Empire
    • Free Trade, Globalization, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
    Democracy and Elections, Summer 2016 (31:4) Login to Download PDF
    • Putin’s Illiberal Democracy
    • Harry Truman and the Election of 1948
    • Elections, Money, and the First Amendment
    Political Conflict, Spring 2016 (31:3) Login to Download PDF
    • The Election of 1912
    • The Great Rivalry: Disraeli vs. Gladstone
    • Edward Snowden, the NSA, and Mass Surveillance

    Critical Concerns, Winter 2016 (31:2) Login to Download PDF

    • Police Body Cameras and the Use of Force
    • Abolitionists and the Constitution
    • Tolerance: Voltaire and the Spirit of the Enlightenment

    Breaking New Grounds, Fall 2015 (31:1) Login to Download PDF

    • James Madison and the Bill of Rights
    • Hatshepsut: How a Woman Took the Throne

    The 1960s, Summer 2015 (30:4) Login to Download PDF

    • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the U.S. Supreme Court
    • Cuba at the Crossroads
    • Mao Zedong and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

    The Law, Spring 2015 (30:3) Login to Download PDF

    • Saved From the Gallows — The Trial of Leopold and Loeb
    • The Great Qing Code: Law and Order During China’s Last Dynasty
    • The Free Exercise of Religion in America

    Leadership, Winter 2014 (30:2) Login to Download PDF

    • 'Go Boldly!': Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War
    • Sam Houston: A Study in Leadership
    • Margaret Thatcher and Conservative Politics in England

    War & Policy, Fall 2014 (30:1) Login to Download PDF

    War and the Military, Summer 2014 (29:4) Login to Download PDF

    • The Chinese Civil War: Why Did the Communists Win?
    • The Cold War: How Did It Start? How Did It End?
    • Women in the Military

    Conflicts, Spring 2014 (29:3) Login to Download PDF

    • The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
    • Sudan, Imperialism, and the Mahdi’s Holy War
    • Are Bible Readings Ever Allowed in Public Schools?

    Making a Difference, Winter 2014 (29:2) Login to Download PDF

    • Queen Elizabeth I: Religion and the State
    • Harriet Tubman and the End of Slavery
    • Affirmative Action in American Colleges After Fisher v. Texas

    The Governance, Fall 2013 (29:1) Login to Download PDF

    • Puritan Massachusetts: Theocracy or Democracy?
    • Who Was the Real Cleopatra?
    • How the First State Constitutions Helped Build the U.S. Constitution

    The Environment, Summer 2013 (28:4) Login to Download PDF

    • Conservation, Preservation, and the National Parks
    • Rachel Carson and the Modern Environmental Movement

    Industrialization and Labor, Spring 2013 (28:3) Login to Download PDF

    • The Industrial Revolution
    • The Pullman Strike and Boycott
    • American Labor Unions: Yesterday and Today

    Origins, Winter 2012 (28:2) Login to Download PDF

    • Hamilton, Jefferson, and Their Fight for the Future of America
    • Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire
    • The Electoral College

    Health-Care Reform, Fall 2012 (28:1) Login to Download PDF

    • The Continuing Struggle for U.S. Health-Care Reform
    • The U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on the Affordable Care Act
    • Health Care: What Do Other Countries Do?

    Facing Crisis, Summer 2012 (27:4) Login to Download PDF

    • FDR and the Banks
    • Munich and “Appeasement”
    • Unemployment and the Future of Jobs in America

    A New Order, Spring 2012 (27:3) Login to Download PDF

    • Simon Bolivar: Thinker, Liberator, Reformer
    • J.P. Morgan, the Panic of 1907, and the Federal Reserve Act
    • Juan Peron: Dictator or Champion of Social Justice?

    Law, Winter 2011 (27:2) Login to Download PDF

    • Canon Law: Medieval Europe’s Legal System
    • Oliver Cromwell: The Lord Protector
    • Calhoun and Webster: Two Visions of the Federal Union

    Revolutionary Thinkers, Fall 2011 (27:1) Login to Download PDF

    • Thomas Paine: America’s Most Radical Revolutionary
    • Sir William Blackstone and the Common Law
    • St. Augustine and the Role of Religion in the State

    Communism, Summer 2011 (26:4) Login to Download PDF

    • Lenin and the Russian Revolution
    • The Cuban Missile Crisis
    • North Korea: The Rogue Nation

    Economic Crises, Spring 2011 (26:3) Login to Download PDF

    • The WPA: Putting the Nation to Work in the Great Depression
    • A Guide to the Federal Budget Deficit and National Debt
    • Tulipmania and Economic Bubbles

    Population Perils Winter 2010 (26:2) Login to Download PDF

    • The "Black Death": A Catastrophe in Medieval Europe
    • The Potato Famine and Irish Immigration to America
    • The Debate OverWorld Population: Was Malthus Right?

    Tyranny Fall 2010 (26:1) Login to Download PDF

    • The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
    • Plato and Aristotle on Tyranny
    • Nigeria: After 50 Years, Still Struggling to Be a Democracy

    Reaction and Reform Summer 2010 (25:4) Login to Download PDF

    • The Watergate Scandal
    • Mussolini and the Rise of Fascism
    • Land, Liberty, and the Mexican Revolution

    Revolution and Change Spring 2010 (25:3) Login to Download PDF

    • England's Glorious Revolution
    • John Maynard Keynes and the Revolution in Economic Thought
    • William Jennings Bryan, the "Great Commoner"

    Building Democracy Fall 2009 (25:2) Login to Download PDF

    • The Major Debates at the Constitutional Convention
    • King and Parliament in Medieval England
    • Every New Generation

    Environmental Issues Summer 2009 (25:1) Login to Download PDF

    • Are We Headed for a "Sixth Mass Extinction"?
    • The Columbian Exchange
    • What Caused Egypt's Old Kingdom to Collapse?

    Reform and Change Spring 2009 (24:4) Login to Download PDF

    • The Teapot Dome Scandal
    • Woodrow Wilson's Quest to Change the World
    • John Stuart Mill and Individual Liberty

    Communication of Ideas Winter 2009 (24:3) Login to Download PDF

    • Herodotus and Thucydides: Inventing History
    • Gutenberg and the Printing Revolution in Europe
    • Henry Clay: Compromise and Union

    Politics Fall 2008 (24:2) Login to Download PDF

    • How Political Parties Began
    • Making It Easier to Vote vs. Guarding Against Election Fraud
    • The Development of Confucianism in Ancient China

    Reform Spring 2008 (24:1) Login to Download PDF

    • Communism, Capitalism, and Democracy in China
    • Upton Sinclair's The Jungle
    • John Dewey and the Reconstruction of American Democracy

    Intellectual Property Winter 2008 (23:4) Login to Download PDF

    • The Origins of Patent and Copyrights Law
    • Digital Piracy
    • Patenting Life
    • The Cheating Problem

    Justice Fall 2007 (23:3) Login to Download PDF

    • The Whiskey Rebellion and the New American Republic
    • Cicero: Defender of the Roman Republic
    • "Justice and Fairness": John Rawls and His Theory of Justice

    Rights Reconsidered Summer 2007 (23:2) Login to Download PDF

    • Sacco and Vanzetti
    • Edmund Burke
    • Mendez v. Westminster

    Free Markets and Antitrust Law Spring 2007 (23:1) Login to Download PDF

    • Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations
    • Progressives and the Era of Trustbusting
    • Media Mergers and the Public Interest

    Making a Just Society Winter 2006 (22:4) Login to Download PDF

    • Stem-Cell Research: The Promise and the Pitfalls
    • Slavery, Civil War, and Democracy: What Did Lincoln Believe?
    • St. Thomas Aquinas, Natural Law, and the Common Good.

    The Rule of Law in Dangerous Times Fall 2006 (22:3) Login to Download PDF

    • Solon Put Athens on the Road to Democracy
    • John Peter Zenger and the Freedom of the Press
    • The National Security Agency's Warrantless Wiretaps.

    The Establishment of Religion Spring 2006 (22:2) Login to Download PDF

    • The Scopes Trial
    • More Monkey Trials
    • Turkey: An Evolving Democracy in the Middle East

    Standards for the Time Winter 2005 (22:1) Login to Download PDF

    • The Transcendentalists in Action
    • Petrarch, the Father of Humanism
    • Is Torture Ever Justified?

    Centralized vs. Decentralized Rule Fall 2005 (21:4) Login to Download PDF

    • The Legacy of Alexander the Great
    • The Articles of Confederation
    • The European Union: Toward a "United States of Europe"?

    Economics and Democracy Summer 2005 (21:3) Login to Download PDF

    • Dust Bowl Exodus
    • The German Weimar Republic
    • Outsourcing Jobs to Other Countries

    American Interventions Spring 2005 (21:2) Login to Download PDF

    • Is Iraq on the Way to Democracy?
    • Teddy Roosevelt and the Panama Canal
    • The Boxer Rebellion in China

    Executive Power Winter 2004 (21:1) Login to Download PDF

    • Machiavelli and The Prince
    • Detaining U.S. Citizens as Enemy Combatants
    • Jackson and Indian Removal

    Religion and Society Fall 2004 (20:4) Login to Download PDF

    • Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening in Colonial America
    • Islam Divided: The Shiites and Sunnis
    • Should We Take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?

    Nation-Building Summer 2004 (20:3) Login to Download PDF

    • The Marshall Plan for Rebuilding Europe
    • Different Visions for Vietnam
    • U.S. Involvement in Nation-Building Before Iraq

    Developments in Democracy Spring 2004 (20:2) Login to Download PDF

    • How Women Won the Right to Vote
    • Have Women Achieved Equality?
    • Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government

    Culture in Conflict Winter 2004 (20:1) Login to Download PDF

    • President Polk and the Taking of the West
    • Muslim Conquests in Europe
    • The Rise of Islamist Terrorist Groups

    National Security and Freedom Fall 2003 (19:4) Login to Download PDF

    • The Patriot Act: What is the Proper Balance Between National Security and Individual Rights?
    • The Alien and Sedition Acts: Defining American Freedom
    • Plato and The Republic

    Controversies Summer 2003 (19:3) Login to Download PDF

    • Three Visions for African Americans
    • "Forgotten Genocide": The Destruction of the Armenians During World War I
    • The Bush Doctrine

    Ideas Spring 2003 (19:2) Login to Download PDF

    • Karl Marx: A Failed Vision of History
    • Social Darwinism and American Laissez-faire Capitalism
    • Copying Music and Movies from the Internet: "Digital Piracy" and "Fair Use"

    Eastern Europe Winter 2002 (19:1)

    • Life Under Communism in Eastern Europe
    • Emerging Democracies in Eastern Europe and Russia: How Are They Doing?
    • Ethnic Minorities in Eastern Europe

    The Environment Fall 2002 (18:4)

    • Environmental Disasters in the Cradles of Civilization
    • Global Warming: What Should We Do About It?
    • Climate Change and Violence in the Ancient American Southwest

    Victims of War Summer 2002 (18:3)

    • Wartime and the Bill of Rights: The Korematsu Case
    • The "Rape of Nanking"
    • Compensating the Victims of War

    Imperialism Spring 2002 (18:2)

    • The Great Rebellion of 1857 in India
    • Oil and National Security
    • The Debate Over Hawaii and an American Overseas Empire

    Africa Winter 2001 (18:1)

    • The United States and the Barbary Pirates
    • AIDS in Africa
    • Ibn Battuta: The Greatest Traveler in the Middle Ages

    Law of Empires Fall 2001 (17:4)

    • Clash of Empires: The Fight for North America
    • When Roman Law Ruled the Western World
    • Puerto Rico: Commonwealth, Statehood, or Independence?

    Military Authority Summer 2001 (17:3)

    • The French Army Mutinies of World War I
    • Truman, MacArthur, and the Korean War
    • The Military Confronts the Harassment of Women and Gays

    Labor Spring 2001 (17:2)

    • One Big Union--One Big Strike: The Story of the Wobblies
    • Marching with "General Ludd": Machine Breaking in the Industrial Revolution
    • Globalization and Worker Rights

    Religious Tolerance Winter 2000 (17:1)

    • Should Students Have The Right to Lead Prayers at Pubic School Events?
    • The Persecution of the Mormons
    • Luther Sparks the Protestant Reformation

    Innovations in Law Fall 2000 (16:4)

    • The Hebrews and the Foundations of Western Law
    • The Declaration of Independence and Natural Rights
    • Animal Rights

    Civil Disobedience Summer 2000 (16:3)

    • The Berkeley Free Speech Movement: Civil Disobedience on Campus
    • Bringing Down an Empire: Ghandi and Civil Disobedience
    • The Rescue Movement: Pushing the Limits of Free Speech

    Wealth and Power Spring 2000 (16:2)

    • King Leopold's "Heart of Darkness"
    • Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Monopoly
    • United States v. Microsoft

    Matters of Principle Winter 1999 (16:1)

    • John Adams and the Boston Massacre
    • The Murder of an Archbishop
    • Should We Have the Right to Die?

    Clash of Cultures and Law Fall 1999 (15:4)

    • Young People and the Internet: Issues of Censorship and Free Expression
    • The Law of Shi Huangdi, First Emperor of China
    • Laws of the Indies: Spain and the Native Peoples of the New World

    Rules of War Summer 1999 (15:3)

    • Firestorms: The Bombing of Civilians in World War II
    • Choices: Truman, Hirohito, and the Atomic Bomb
    • New Threat to Nuclear Non-Proliferation

    Codes Spring 1999 (15:2)

    • The Code Napoleon
    • The Death Penalty and Human Rights: Is the U.S. Out of Step?
    • The Southern "Black Codes" of 1865-66

    Islamic Issues Winter 1998 (15:1)

    • The Origins of Islamic Law
    • The U.S. and Iran: Time for a New Beginning?
    • Blasphemy! Salman Rushdie and Freedom of Expression

    Rules, Policy, and Empire Fall 1998 (14:4)

    • Blood and Tribute: The Rise and Fall of the Aztec Empire
    • The Edicts of Asoka
    • Africa's "Second Independence" and U.S. Policy

    Welfare Summer 1998 (14:3)

    • How Welfare Began in the United States
    • Welfare to Work: The States Take Charge
    • "The Swedish Model": Welfare for Everyone

    Independence of the Judiciary Spring 1998 (14:2)

    • An Issue of Consent
    • Voters and Judges
    • An Independent Judiciary

    Culture Clash Fall 1998 (14:1)

    • The Kennewick Controversies
    • Witch Hunt
    • The Battle Over Proposition 187

    Separating Church and State Fall 1997 (13:4)

    • Separating Church and State
    • Religious Tolerance and Persecution in the Roman Empire
    • Should Government Aid Students Attending Parochial Schools?

    Forensic Evidence Summer 1997 (13:3)

    • The Riddle of the Romanovs
    • DNA, Lie Detector, and Voiceprint Evidence: Does It Belong in the Courtroom?
    • How Reliable Are Eyewitnesses?

    Controversies in the Arts Spring 1997 (13:2)

    • The Battle over the National Endowment of the Arts
    • The Suppression of Art in Nazi Germany
    • Music on Trial: Rock, Rap, and Responsibility

    Election Issues Winter 1996 (13:1)

    • Political Scandals, Scoundrels, and Schemer: Are the Media Focusing on the Wrong Things?
    • Issues in Campaign '96
    • TV Attack Ads and the Voter

    New Claims to Equal Protection Fall 1996 (12:4)

    • Equal Opportunity in the Military
    • Including the Disabled Student
    • Helen Keller
    • Gay Rights and the Constitution

    Keeping the Peace After the Cold War Summer 1996 (12:3)

    • The United Nations: Fifty Years of Keeping the Peace
    • The Future of NATO
    • Do We Need a Permanent International Criminal Court?

    Voting and Discrimination Spring 1996 (12:2)

    • South Africa: Revolution at the Ballot Box
    • Race and Voting in the Segregated South
    • Race and Representation

    Journey to Equality Winter 1996 (12:1)

    • Black Troops in Union Blue
    • The Adarand Case: Affirmative Action and Equal Protection
    • The Mandinko of the Gambia

    Issues of Terrorism Fall 1995 (11:4)

    • The Aftermath of Terror (Oklahoma City Bombing)
    • Terrorism: How Have Other Countries Handled It? How Should We?
    • Conspiracy Theories: Attacks on Jefferson Set the Pattern
    • Talk Radio: Playground for Free Speech or a Forum for Hate?

    Examining the Federal Government Spring 1995 (11:3)

    • The Balanced Budget Amendment
    • The Income Tax Amendment: Most Thought It Was A Great Idea in 1913
    • Term-Limits Debate: Professional Politician or Citizen Legislator?

    What Should We do About Crime? Spring 1995 (11:2)

    • "Beyond the Seas": The Transportation of Criminals to Australia
    • What Should We Do About Crime?
    • Juvenile Justice: What Should We Do With Children Who Break the Law?

    The Right to an Impartial Jury and a Free Press Winter 1994 (11:1)

    • Is a Fair Trial Possible in the Age of Mass Media?
    • The Dreyfus Affair and the Press
    • Sex, Crime, and Jazz-Age Journalism

    The U.S. Supreme Court Fall 1994 (10:4)

    • FDR Tries to "Pack" the Supreme Court
    • Should Nations Have the Right to Kidnap Criminal Suspects?
    • Update on the Supreme Court (Abortion Protester's, Religious Schools, and Jury Selection)

    Hate Crimes Summer 1994 (10:3)

    • Should Hate be Outlawed?
    • "At the Hands of Persons Unknown": Lynching in America
    • German Skinheads: Are the Nazis Making a Comeback?

    United States Asylum Policy Spring 1994 (10:2)

    • U.S. Immigration Policy and Hitler's Holocaust
    • Haiti and the Boat People
    • Seeking Asylum in the United States

    When Rights Conflict Fall 1993 (10:1)

    • Free Press vs. Fair Trial: The Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping Case
    • Singapore: Model Society or City of Fear?
    • Religious Rights in Conflict

    The Legislative Branch Summer 1993 (9:3 & 4)

    • "Let us Reason Together"--Lyndon Johnson, Master Legislator
    • The European Community: Cooperating Nations or Unified Superstate?
    • A Different Voice: Women in the Congress

    The Executive Branch Spring 1993 (9:2)

    • Policing the Police
    • Ruling in the Name of the Emperor: How Japan Became a World Power
    • A Hero Betrayed: The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.

    The Judicial System Winter 1992 (9:1)

    • The Inquisition: Looking Into the Human Soul
    • "We Came to Free the Slaves": John Brown on Trial
    • Does the Criminal Justice System Discriminate Against African-Americans?
    • The Election of 1824-25: When the House Chose the President
    • Democracy and Dictatorship in Ancient Rome
    • Why Don't People Vote?
    Issues in Education Winter 1992 (8:2)
    • Educating European Immigrant Children Before World War I
    • The Debate Over School Choice
    • Teaching to the Test in Japan

    Trends and Issues of the Bill of Rights Fall/Winter 1991 (8:1)

    • The New Supreme Court: Decisions to Come
    • Who Voted in Early America
    • On The Road to Revolution with Boris Yeltsin
    • The Tax Farmer of Mari

    The 14th Amendment Spring 1991 (7:4)

    • The Stalin Purges and "Show Trials"
    • The 14th Amendment and the "Second Bill of Rights"
    • Education and the 14th Amendment
    
  • America Responds to Terrorism

    Resources designed to help teachers and students understand the tragedy of September 11 and the events unfolding in America, Iraq, the Middle East, and around the world.

  • Black History Month

  • Women's History Month
  • Police
  • Primary Sources
  • The Challenge of Democracy
    Challenge of Democracy

    k-icon-govern

    In a democratic society such as ours, every citizen is entrusted with rights and responsibilities. The citizenry is the source of political power and must be well-educated to effectively take part in civic life. Topics include constitutional democracy, the electoral college, the two-party system, the amendment process, the role of the judiciary, and the question of whether or not democracy is in decline.

    k-icon-violence

    While there are many forms of violence with which U.S. society has grappled in its history and will continue to confront in the future, the lessons in this series focus primarily on criminal violence, along with issues and policies related to it. Topics include a historical survey of violence in the U.S., debates over gun control policy, the constitutionality of gang ordinances, criminal-justice reform proposals, hate crimes, and more.

    k-icon-info

    Freedom of the press is a fundamental right in the First Amendment, for the press is an essential government watchdog. Today, the press can provide us with a virtually non-stop flow of information, and we have the means of sharing it widely with just our fingertips. What’s the role of the free press? And how can we be responsible consumers ― and sharers ― of news and information? Topics include fake news, defamation, propaganda, conspiracy theories, the limits on a free press, and the people’s right to know government information.

    k-icon-diversity

    The story of the United States is the story of its diverse peoples. And the history of interactions among them has been, at turns, both devastating and hopeful. The lessons in this series provide teachers and students the opportunities to explore and critically engage with historical issues related to diversity, as well as contemporary questions that will shape the future for all people in the United States. Topics include confronting the slave ownership of the Founding Fathers, exploring reparations for slavery, evaluating how we measure diversity with the census, understanding current debates over affirmative in college admissions, and more.

    PD Webinars – Led by Teachers

    Click here to view webinars that showcase selected lessons from The Challenge of Democracy series and walk you through the Civil Conversation and role play/simulation strategies featured in the lessons.


    The Challenge of Democracy resources are made possible by a generous grant from the

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  • NYC DOE Civics for All

    Curriculum Library for NYC DOE Civics for All Initiative 

    A note to teachers about MS/HS designations:
    Middle school (MS) and high school (HS) designations are based on the text's readability and/or on when the content is usually taught. We know you are the best judge of what makes sense for your students, so of course, use any lesson as you see fit!


    Click here to see how lessons in CRF’s CivCon and Civic Scenario & Simulation library support New York state standards.


    LESSONS


    World History

    Confucianism or Legalism: Which is a Better Way to Govern? (MS/HS)
    In this lesson, students complete a background reading that explores the lives and contributions of Confucius and Qin Shi Huangdi and describes Confucianism and Legalism. Students then participate in a CivCon to consider the pros and cons of these two schools of thought about how to govern.


    Two Very Different City-States: Sparta and Athens (MS/HS)
    In this lesson, students read a text that outlines key aspects of (and differences between) life in Sparta and Athens. Then, they participate in a CivCon to consider which city-state was most likely to win the Peloponnesian War and which had the best government. 


    The Meeting at Runnymede (HS)
    This lesson features a background reading on the Magna Carta and the concept of the rule of law, including King John’s arguments against the document. Students participate in a CivCon and evaluate the most important ways in which the Magna Carta influenced democracy in the United States.


    Two Visions of Government (HS)
    In this lesson, students read a short text that outlines and contrasts Thomas Hobbes’s and John Locke’s political philosophies. Then, they participate in a CivCon to further compare and evaluate these visions for a system of government.


    When England Industrialized (HS)
    This lesson starts with a reading that provides a snapshot of the process of industrialization in Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries, including the dramatic changes that took place in Manchester and how groups like the Luddites resisted them. Students then participate in a CivCon to discuss the costs and benefits of industrialization in England, as well as to consider the merits of the Luddites’ protests. 


    Why Did the Communists Win the Chinese Revolution? (HS) 
    In this lesson, students complete a reading that provides background on tensions and differences between Nationalists and Communists before and during China’s civil war (1946-49), including reasons for the victory of the Communists, led by Mao Zedong, over the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek. Then, they participate in a CivCon to explore these differences more deeply and to consider some of the long-term impacts of Communist rule.


    U.S. History & Government

    How Should We Judge Our Nation’s Founders? (MS/HS)
    In this lesson, students read a short text that poses questions and describes differing viewpoints about honoring Founding Fathers of the United States, as well as other historical figures, who were slave owners. Then, students participate in a CivCon based on the reading and their own questions about these issues.


    Slavery and the Electoral College (HS)
    This lesson follows the reading “270 Votes to Win” and the activity “What Should We Do About the Electoral College?.” With a background on the history, function, and contemporary criticisms of the Electoral College, students delve into the historical question of slavery's role in its development.

    Note: It is essential that students have the information and context from the previous lesson in order to participate effectively in this lesson.


    The Role of the Judiciary (HS)
    In this lesson, students learn about the judicial system, aka the judiciary. First, they read and discuss an article on the role, structure, and principles of the judiciary, including the essential concept of the rule of law and its key features of due process and equal protection. Then, students explore these and other concepts during a CivCon based on the reading.


    The 14th Amendment and Due Process (MS/HS) 
    In this lesson, students read a short text that explains how the 14th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution in the wake of the Civil War and how significant it has been since that time. Students also get background on how this amendment formed the basis of the Supreme Court’s “incorporation doctrine.” Then, they participate in a CivCon to explore additional questions about the impact and importance of the 14th Amendment. 


    The Emoluments Clause and the President (HS)
    This lesson begins with crucial background reading on the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution and explains the arguments currently being debated in the courts as to whether or not President Trump has violated this clause. The reading also includes detailed questions for writing and/or discussion, which help to prepare students for a CivCon based on the text. 


    Diversity and the Census (MS/HS)   
    In this lesson, students read a short text about how the census defines and seeks to measure racial and ethnic diversity in the United States, examine questions this data gathering raises, and consider what projections tell us about population trends in the future. Next, they participate in a CivCon based on the reading in order to delve more deeply into these questions.


    Examining the Constitutional Issues of Chicago’s Gang Congregation Ordinance (HS)
    After a brief introductory discussion about possible community responses to gang-related violence, students read about how the Chicago City Council passed a controversial ordinance to suppress gang activity and how each branch of government was involved in shaping that policy. Next, they participate in a CivCon based on the reading. Finally, students debrief the CivCon process, as well as the policy issues raised by the case of City of Chicago v. Morales. 


    In addition to articles from CRF, we also recommend PRO/CON articles from Newsela, which lend themselves well as the basis for a CivCon. And as with all Newsela resources, you can adjust the reading level of these texts to best suit the needs of your students and assign articles either electronically or by printing them.

    • Time Machine (1867): PRO/CON: Should the U.S. buy Alaska from Russia? 
      Newsela Editor's Note: Here are two articles from 1867. One is in favor of purchasing Alaska from Russia. The other is against. At the time, the $7 million purchase was controversial. The affair was referred to as "Seward's Folly." U.S. Secretary of State William Seward was the government official who pushed for the purchase.

    Current Events & Economics

    What Should the U.S. Do About North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons? (HS)   
    In this lesson, students gain background knowledge on North Korea and its relations with the U.S. and the international community before exploring several policy options available to the U.S. as it considers how to engage with North Korea around the issue of nuclear weapons. Then, students participate in a CivCon to delve more deeply into the text and to consider additional perspectives.  


    Immigration Enforcement Raids (HS)
    This lesson gives students important background information about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), its role in enforcing immigration policy, and different perspectives on methods ICE has used to conduct raids. The short reading also provides in-depth questions for writing and discussion, which prepare students for a well-informed CivCon addressing this timely issue.


    Police Body Cameras (MS/HS)
    In this lesson, students read a short text that outlines common arguments for and against the increased use of police body cameras, as well as some evidence from initial research studies and examples of cities that have adopted new policies about this technology. Once they have this background, students participate in a CivCon to further examine questions, including whether this development is positive or negative.


    Is Democracy in Decline? (HS)
    In this lesson, students read a text that examines recent research into the question of whether democratic forms of government are in decline in the world, and also whether young people have less affinity for democracy than in the past. Then, they participate in a CivCon to dig more deeply into this question being examined by many political scientists around the world.


    Why Don’t More People in the U.S. Vote? (MS/HS) 
    In this lesson, students discuss the problem of low voter turnout and explore ways to increase it. First, they read an article about low voting rates and proposals for addressing this problem. Next, they participate in a CivCon on the reading. In an enrichment activity, students conduct a poll to determine political interest levels and ideas for increasing voter turnout in a selected community (e.g., school or community).


    Tackling Fake News (HS)
    In this lesson, students learn about the constitutional, legal, and practical considerations and controversies surrounding regulation of fake news. First, students read and discuss an article that reviews what fake news is and then describes measures taken by private parties (such as social media platforms) and government to try to regulate fake news. Next, they delve further into the text through a CivCon to consider some of these issues.

    Note: This lesson continues from where the Understanding Fake News lesson leaves off, so it is recommended to start with that introduction and the SEARCH checklist that it provides as a tool for “sniffing out” fake news.


    Blurring the Lines Between Fact and Fiction (MS/HS)
    In this lesson, students read a short text about the ways in which filmmakers and producers — including of the films JFK and 300 — take liberties with historical narratives for the sake of entertainment. Next, they consider the implications of these practices by participating in a CivCon on the reading.


    The Debate Over Gun Laws in the United States – An Introduction (MS/HS)
    In this lesson, students read a short text that provides statistical background on gun ownership, gun violence, and public opinion on gun control laws in the United States. Then, they evaluate frequently cited arguments on the issue of gun-control policy. Finally, they synthesize and engage with the reading by participating in a CivCon.


    Social Darwinism and American Laissez-faire Capitalism (HS) 
    In this lesson, students explore British philosopher Herbert Spencer’s theory of “Social Darwinism” and its impact on Americans’ justification of laissez-faire, or unrestricted, capitalism in the 1800s. They then examine key questions about the ideas in the text during a CivCon.


    In addition to articles from CRF, we also recommend PRO/CON articles from Newsela, which lend themselves well as the basis for a CivCon. And as with all Newsela resources, you can adjust the reading level of these texts to best suit the needs of your students and assign articles either electronically or by printing them. 

    World History

    The Counselors of Hammurabi (MS/HS)
    This lesson provides students with background on Hammurabi’s rule in Mesopotamia. The reading includes a vocabulary list and comprehension and discussion questions. The lesson also addresses how Hammurabi sought to govern his empire, as well as the concept of lex talionis. After reading, students take on the role of a conselor to Hammurabi in order to create fair laws based on the idea of “an eye for an eye.”


    Promise and Problems of the Nile (MS)
    This lesson examines the benefits and the challenges that the Nile River brought to the people of ancient Egypt. In small groups, students role-play advisors to the mayor of an ancient Egyptian city by analyzing a hypothetical problem on the Nile, brainstorming options, and deciding on which option to recommend to the mayor.


    Rome: Republic to Empire (MS/HS) 
    This lesson provides an overview of governance in the Roman Empire. After defining and discussing the term “dictator,” students read and discuss an article on the beginning of Rome, the Roman Republic, and its transformation into an empire. Then, in small groups, students stage a simulation of a contemporary U.S. congressional committee deciding whether the U.S. Constitution should be amended to give the president greater powers in an emergency.


    Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire (MS/HS) 
    This two-part lesson explores the history of religious toleration and persecution in the Roman Empire. After discussing why religious freedom is important, students complete readings that illustrate how Roman law and policy treated Jews and Christians in the empire. Students then prepare and deliver two-minute speeches as advisors to the Emperor Theodosius (r. 379-395 CE) urging him to adopt freedom of religion in the Roman Empire.


    Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau on Government (HS) 
    This study of Enlightenment philosophers Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau is designed to give students an understanding of the ideas of these philosophers. Students read about each of the philosophers’ main ideas. Then, they work individually and/or as part of a small group to prepare for a panel discussion in which students take on the role of each philosopher to discuss their influential ideas.  


    The Great Qing Code: Law and Order During China’s Last Dynasty (HS)
    In this lesson, students explore the background and significance of the Great Qing Code, the 1740 codification of criminal and civil law in China. They learn how the code drew on laws dating back more than 2,000 years and set out instructions to local officials, known as magistrates, as well as to higher authorities. After completing a reading, as well as questions for writing and/or discussion, students participate in a simulation of the Autumn Court (a sort of appellate body that existed under the code) in order to make a recommendation to the emperor regarding the proper sentence in a criminal case. 


    “A Fire Waiting to be Lit:” The Origins of World War I (HS)
    The initial reading for this lesson outlines key issues and events that ultimately led to the outbreak of World War I, including in-depth questions for writing and/or discussion. In an activity that teachers may want to use after students have learned about the course of the war and its end at the Treaty of Versailles, students simulate the meeting of a commission weighing differing expert assessments about assigning blame for World War I. As the commissioners, students decide which country, if any, was responsible for the war.   


    U.S. History & Government

    270 Votes to Win: The Electoral College in the United States (HS)
    In the first part of this lesson, students read, annotate, and discuss a text that provides background on the creation, functioning, and debates over the Electoral College. Then, they participate in a scenario in which they act as members of a presidential commission making recommendations on whether (or how) to change the way presidents are elected in the United States.


    What Is an Independent Judiciary? (HS)
    In this lesson, students learn about the independence of the judicial branch of government. First, students read and discuss an article on the role and principles of an independent judiciary, including what this means or looks like at the federal, state, and local levels. Then, they participate in a scenario in which they act as voters deciding whether or not to recall judges.


    The Amendment Process (MS/HS)
    In this lesson, students examine Article V of the Constitution, which outlines how the Constitution can be changed, or amended. First, they complete an introductory reading about Article V, the history of the amendment process, and the political complexities that arise when groups try to amend the Constitution. Then, they simulate a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee in which members must decide on a proposed amendment to reform the U.S. Senate.


    Winner-Take-All: The Two-Party System (HS)
    In this lesson, students learn about the U.S. two-party election system in history and in practice today. First, students complete a reading on the two-party system, as well as the "third parties" that have arisen within that system and what role they play. Next, students review the party convention system. Finally, students simulate a meeting of delegates at a third-party convention, drafting their own platform for what their political party would stand for.


    Why We Have Freedom of the Press (MS/HS)In this lesson, students learn about the historical context for the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press. First, students read about the historical background for a free press in medieval Europe, England, and England’s American colonies in the 18th century. Next, they work in small groups to determine if several hypothetical situations are proper uses of prior restraint.

    Note: This lesson is Part I of a two-part lesson sequence that continues with PartII: ‘Falsely Shouting Fire’: The Free Press and the Courts. Both Parts I and II may also be done independently of one another.


    ‘Falsely Shouting Fire’: The Free Press and the Courts (MS/HS)
    In this lesson, students learn about how the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted freedom of expression, particularly freedom of the press, throughout the 20th century and into the early 21st century. First, students read about how the Supreme Court has interpreted and defined freedom of the press with its main rulings starting during World War I. Next, they work in small groups to evaluate three fact situations in which someone or some organization has violated a law that restricts First Amendment freedom of expression.

    Note: This lesson is Part II of a two-part lesson sequence that began with Part I: Why We Have Freedom of the Press. Both Parts I and II may also be done independently of one another.


    John Peter Zenger and Freedom of the Press (HS)
    This lesson begins with a quick primary source document activity. Next, students read an article about the trial of John Peter Zenger, a colonial-era case about freedom of the press, and learn how that case influenced later court decisions, including New York Times v. Sullivan. Finally, students take on the roles of partners in a law firm who have to determine how they will handle several hypothetical libel cases.


    Moot Court Activities

    Each of the following lessons features a moot court activity, in which students assume the roles of justices and attorneys to “argue” a U.S. Supreme Court case. The links below provide lesson plans, student handouts, and/or PowerPoint presentations to guide the lessons. 
    Free Expression: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
      (MS/HS)

    • Part I: Background on free expression and how it’s protected by the Constitution, especially the First Amendment powerpoint_document
    • Part II: Moot court activity examining a case of censorship of a high school newspaper powerpoint_document


    Due Process: California v. Greenwood
     (MS/HS)

    • Part I: Background on key individual rights and freedoms and how they’re protected by the Constitution, especially the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments powerpoint_document
    • Part II: Moot court activity examining a case of a police search that raised important questions about privacy powerpoint_document
    • Part III: Optional extended reading including more details about the case


    Equal Protection: Gratz v. Bollinger
     (HS)

    • Part I: Background on slavery and racial discrimination in the U.S., including decisions and policies that extended both; explains constitutional amendments that were passed to address these abuses and inequality powerpoint_document
    • Part II: Moot court activity examining a case of affirmative action in university admissions powerpoint_document


    Equal Protection: Chicago v. Morales (HS)

    • First section of PowerPoint provides background on how laws are made, how power is divided among different branches and levels of government, and the protections (and limitations) of individual rights. Second section of PowerPoint helps to facilitate moot court activity examining a case of a controversial local law that was challenged by people in the community. powerpoint_document
    • Students explore the scope and limits of the establishment clause of the First Amendment with a background reading followed by a moot court activity on the constitutional issue of student-led prayer at public school events. 

    Freedom of the Press: The Progressive case (HS)

    • Students explore various Supreme Court rulings on the public's right to know information about the government's actions (aka the right to know) and learn about the key concept of “prior restraint” through a background reading. Then they hold a moot court on The Progressive case, in which the government sought to stop a magazine from publishing an article on the hydrogen bomb.

    Current Events & Economics

    Policing the Police (MS/HS)  
    In this lesson, students focus on issues of police discipline. First, in a reading and discussion, students learn about the processes many police departments use to investigate citizen complaints about misconduct and for disciplining officers. Then, in a simulation activity, students take the role of members of a police board of rights to make decisions about a hypothetical case.


    Conspiracy Theories Past and Present (HS)   
    In this lesson, students learn how to identify conspiracy theories and to distinguish them from other questions about history or current events. First, students discuss a hypothetical conspiracy theory. Next, students complete a thorough reading about historical and contemporary conspiracy theories as well as ways to identify frequently used logical fallacies by conspiracy theorists. Finally, students take on the roles of federal investigators determining if a set of facts amounts to a conspiracy theory.


    Guns and School Safety: What Is the Best Way Forward? (HS)
    In this lesson, students read an article on the background to the current crisis posed by mass shootings at schools, as well as proposed solutions from across the political spectrum. Next, students participate in a simulation activity in which they act as state legislators trying to design the most effective policy for reduction of gun-violence in their state. 


    What Caused the Great Depression and Why Did Recovery Take So Long? (HS) 
    Students read an article describing the causes of the Great Depression and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s recovery efforts. Students then take on the roles of advisors to President Roosevelt, who have been asked to make recommendations to him on how to address a range of policy issues. 


    What Should the U.S. Do About North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons? (HS) 
    Based on the same background text as the CivCon about North Korea, students now take on the roles of foreign policy expert witnesses who have been called to testify before a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee about how to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat. Witnesses must persuade the subcommittee to adopt one of the policy options outlined in the text. 


    Police and the Use of Force (MS) 
    This lesson focuses on the issue of police use of force in field situations. After a brief focus activity, students read and discuss a reading that describes laws and rules affecting the types and level of force, including deadly force. Then, in a paired activity, students take the role of police officers, review guidelines, and apply them to hypothetical cases. Finally, in a debriefing discussion, students compare their responses to the situations.


    Does the First Amendment Allow Restrictions On Hate? (HS)
    In this lesson, students read an article outlining trends in hate crimes, Supreme Court decisions on laws established to challenge these crimes, and current federal legislation on the issue.  Then, they simulate a legislative session on a proposed hate crime law, taking on the roles of lawmakers.

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