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Governance

THE CHALLENGE OF DEMOCRACY

Governance

Violence

Information

Diversity

What Is Constitutional Democracy? pdf_document 
In this lesson, students explore the meaning of constitutional government. First, students discuss the meaning of the term constitution. Next, they read and discuss a short reading outlining the principles and origins of constitutional government, and especially constitutional democracy as it exists in the United States. Finally, students work in small groups to evaluate the Preamble to the United States Constitution when compared to the principles of constitutional government as described in the reading.

Is Democracy in Decline? pdf_document    View Webinar display_1 

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. Next, they participate in a Civil Conversation based on the reading. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator (the teacher), participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials, gain insight about their own point of view, and strive for a shared understanding of issues.

The Amendment Process pdf_document
In this lesson, students will examine Article V of the Constitution, which outlines how the Constitution can be changed, or amended. They will evaluate the pros and cons of using the amendment process to effect change. First, students 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, students role-play members of a select commission to determine whether an amendment is necessary to reform the U.S. Senate.

270 Votes to Win: The Electoral College in the United Statepdf_document
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 role play 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.

Slavery and the Electoral College pdf_document 
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 the development of the electoral college. 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 pdf_document
In this lesson, students learn about the judicial system, aka the judiciary. First, students read and discuss an article on the role, structure, and principles of the judiciary. Next, they participate in a Civil Conversation on the reading. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator (the teacher), participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials, gain insight about their own point of view, and strive for a shared understanding of issues.

What Is an Independent Judiciary? pdf_document
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. Next, they role-play voters deciding whether or not to recall judges

Prayer and Friday Night Lights? An Establishment Clause Case from Texas pdf_document
In this lesson, students explore the scope and limits of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. First, students read and discuss an article on the constitutional issue of student-led prayer at public school events. Next, they role-play Supreme Court justices and attorneys deciding this issue. Finally, in a whole-class discussion, they debrief their own findings and compare them with those of the Supreme Court in the case of Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe et al.

Why Don’t More People in the U.S. Vote? pdf_document
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 Civil Conversation on the reading. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator (the teacher), participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials, gain insight about their own point of view, and strive for a shared understanding of issues. In an alternate 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).

Winner-Take-All: The Two-Party System  pdf_document
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 role-play delegates to a third-party convention, drafting their own platform for what their political party would stand for.


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

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