Explore the inspiring and thought-provoking student artwork that won the EAD design challenge national K-12 contest

We have created
a roadmap for excellence
in history and civics.

In recent decades, we as a nation have failed to prepare young Americans for self-government, leaving the world’s oldest constitutional democracy in grave danger, afflicted by both cynicism and nostalgia, as it approaches its 250th anniversary. The time has come to recommit to the education of our young people for informed, authentic, and engaged citizenship.

Educating for American Democracy (EAD) is an unprecedented effort that convened a diverse and cross-ideological group of scholars and educators to create a Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy— guidance and an inquiry framework that states, local school districts, and educators can use to transform teaching of history and civics to meet the needs of a diverse 21st century K–12 student body.


EAD is a call to action to invest in strengthening history and civic learning, and to ensure that civic learning opportunities are delivered equitably throughout the country.

Read the
Report

The Educating for American Democracy (EAD) initiative was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Department of Education through a grant to iCivics in collaboration with Harvard University, Tufts University, CIRCLE, and Arizona State University. First proposed in July 2019, the initiative brought together a national network of more than 300 scholars, classroom educators from every grade level, practitioners, and students from a diversity of viewpoints, demographics, and roles, who pooled their expertise to create a strategy for providing excellent history and civics to all students.

Our constitutional democracy is in peril. After years of polarization, the United States is highly divided, and there is widespread loss of confidence in our very form of government and civic order. For many decades, we have neglected civics and history, and we now have a citizenry and electorate who are poorly prepared to understand, appreciate, and use our form of government and civic life.

At the federal level, we spend approximately $50 per student per year on STEM fields and approximately $0.05 per student per year on civics. A lack of consensus about the substance of history and civics—what and how to teach—has been a major obstacle to maintaining excellence. The Educating for American Democracy initiative provides tools to make civics and history a priority so that we as a country can rebuild our civic strength to meet the modern challenges we are facing.

The EAD initiative demonstrates that a viewpoint, demographically, and professionally diverse group can agree about history and civics content, as well as pedagogy. This detailed consensus, presented in a broad roadmap that allows states, localities, and educators to assess and reprioritize their own approaches, will encourage investments in civics and history at all levels.

EAD shifts from breadth to depth by offering an inquiry framework that weaves history and civics together and inspires students to learn by asking difficult questions, then seeking answers in the classroom through facts and discussion. The Roadmap is neither a set of standards nor a curriculum. It recommends approaches to learning that:

  • inspire students to want to become involved in their constitutional democracy and help to sustain our republic;
  • tell a full and complete narrative of America’s plural yet shared story;
  • celebrate the compromises needed to make our constitutional democracy work;
  • cultivate civic honesty and patriotism that leaves space to both love and critique this country;
  • teach history and civics both through a timeline of events and the themes that run through those events.

The EAD Roadmap includes suggested educational strategies for every grade level, a website of curated examples, and implementation recommendations that each state and district can use to fit the needs of their own, unique communities. It details benchmarks for state-level accountability to support continuous improvement—as well as recommendations for investment in developing a corps of history and civics educators.

Anyone who wishes to promote excellence in history and civics for all learners!

The Roadmap is an advisory document that guides history and civics education curricula via a set of themes, design challenges, and instructional strategies. Given the absence of national standards around history and civics education, the Roadmap is a valuable resource for a variety of important actors in the education process, including:

Although not a collection of lesson plans, the Roadmap helps you rethink and reprioritize what goes into your curricula, allowing you to develop a K—12 educational plan that holistically teaches the full complexity of American history and civics in a way that more deeply engages your local student population.

Find out more about how you, in your specific role, can engage with the Roadmap.

Introducing

The Seven Themes

These seven themes map out the disciplinary and conceptual terrain, as well as the skills and dispositional learning needed to support healthy civic participation.

Civic Participation

This theme explores the relationship between self-government and civic participation, drawing on the discipline of history to explore how citizens’ active engagement has mattered for American society and on the discipline of civics to explore the principles, values, habits, and skills that support productive engagement in a healthy, resilient constitutional democracy.

This theme focuses attention on the overarching goal of engaging young people as civic participants and preparing them to assume that role successfully.

Learn how to read The Roadmap
See AllQuestions from Theme 1

Our Changing Landscapes

This theme begins from the recognition that American civic experience is tied to a particular place, and explores the history of how the United States has come to develop the physical and geographical shape it has, the complex experiences of harm and benefit which that history has delivered to different portions of the American population, and the civics questions of how political communities form in the first place, become connected to specific places, and develop membership rules.

The theme also takes up the question of our contemporary responsibility to the natural world.

Learn how to read The Roadmap
See AllQuestions from Theme 2

We the People

This theme explores the idea of “the people” as a political concept--not just a group of people who share a landscape but a group of people who share political ideals and institutions. The theme explores the history of how the contemporary American people has taken shape as a political body and builds civic understanding about how political institutions and shared ideals can work to connect a diverse population to shared processes of societal decision-making.

The theme also explores the challenge of e pluribus unum: forging one political people out of diverse experiences.

Learn how to read The Roadmap
See AllQuestions from Theme 3

A New Government & Constitution

This theme explores the institutional history of the United States as well as the theoretical underpinnings of constitutional design.

Learn how to read The Roadmap
See AllQuestions from Theme 4

A People in the World

This theme explores the place of the U.S. and the American people in a global context, investigating key historical events in international affairs, and building understanding of the principles, values, and laws at stake in debates about America’s role in the world.

Learn how to read The Roadmap
See All Questions from Theme 6

Contemporary Debates & Possibilities

This theme explores the contemporary terrain of civic participation and civic agency, investigating how historical narratives shape current political arguments, how values and information shape policy arguments, and how the American people continue to renew or remake themselves in pursuit of fulfillment of the promise of constitutional democracy.

Learn how to read The Roadmap
See AllQuestions from Theme 7
Introducing

The Five Design Challenges

It’s hard to teach history in a way that’s both honest and aspirational. Our design challenges enable you to transform that tension into a dynamic classroom experience.

Motivating Agency, Sustaining the Republic

  • How can we help students understand the full context for their roles as civic participants without creating paralysis or a sense of the insignificance of their own agency in relation to the magnitude of our society, the globe, and shared challenges?
  • How can we help students become engaged citizens who also sustain civil disagreements, civic friendships, and thus American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we help students pursue civic action that is authentic, responsible, and informed?

America’s Plural Yet Shared Story

  • How can we integrate the perspectives of Americans from all different backgrounds when narrating a history of the U.S. and explicating the content of the philosophical foundations of American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we do so consistently across all historical periods and conceptual content?
  • How can this more plural and more complete story of our history and foundations also be a common story, the shared inheritance of all Americans?

Simultaneously Celebrating & Critiquing Compromise

  • How do we simultaneously teach the value and the danger of compromise for a free, diverse, and self-governing people?
  • How do we help students make sense of the paradox that Americans continuously disagree about the ideal shape of self-government but also agree to preserve shared institutions?

Civic Honesty, Reflective Patriotism

  • How can we offer an account of U.S. constitutional democracy that is simultaneously honest about wrongs of the past without falling into cynicism, and appreciative of the founding of the United States without tipping into adulation?

Balancing the Concrete & the Abstract

  • How can we support instructors in helping students move between concrete, narrative, and chronological learning and thematic and abstract or conceptual learning?

Motivating Agency, Sustaining the Republic

  • How can we help students understand the full context for their roles as civic participants without creating paralysis or a sense of the insignificance of their own agency in relation to the magnitude of our society, the globe, and shared challenges?
  • How can we help students become engaged citizens who also sustain civil disagreement, civic friendship, and thus American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we help students pursue civic action that is authentic, responsible, and informed?

This design challenge applies to

America’s Plural Yet Shared Story

  • How can we integrate the perspectives of Americans from all different backgrounds when narrating a history of the U.S. and explicating the content of the philosophical foundations of American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we do so consistently across all historical periods and conceptual content?
  • How can this more plural and more complete story of our history and foundations also be a common story, the shared inheritance of all Americans?

This design challenge applies to

Civic Honesty, Reflective Patriotism

  • How can we offer an account of U.S. constitutional democracy that is simultaneously honest about the wrongs of the past without falling into cynicism, and appreciative of the founding of the United States without tipping into adulation?

This design challenge applies to

Balancing the Concrete & the Abstract

  • How can we support instructors in helping students move between concrete, narrative, and chronological learning and thematic and abstract or conceptual learning?

This design challenge applies to

×
X

We the People

This theme explores the idea of “the people” as a political concept–not just a group of people who share a landscape but a group of people who share political ideals and institutions.

Read more about the theme in:

X

Institutional & Social Transformation

This theme explores how social arrangements and conflicts have combined with political institutions to shape American life from the earliest colonial period to the present, investigates which moments of change have most defined the country, and builds understanding of how American political institutions and society changes.

Read more about the theme in:

X

Contemporary Debates & Possibilities

This theme explores the contemporary terrain of civic participation and civic agency, investigating how historical narratives shape current political arguments, how values and information shape policy arguments, and how the American people continues to renew or remake itself in pursuit of fulfillment of the promise of constitutional democracy.

Read more about the theme in:

X

Civic Participation

This theme explores the relationship between self-government and civic participation, drawing on the discipline of history to explore how citizens’ active engagement has mattered for American society and on the discipline of civics to explore the principles, values, habits, and skills that support productive engagement in a healthy, resilient constitutional democracy. This theme focuses attention on the overarching goal of engaging young people as civic participants and preparing them to assume that role successfully.

Read more about the theme in:

X

Our Changing landscapes

This theme begins from the recognition that American civic experience is tied to a particular place, and explores the history of how the United States has come to develop the physical and geographical shape it has, the complex experiences of harm and benefit which that history has delivered to different portions of the American population, and the civics questions of how political communities form in the first place, become connected to specific places, and develop membership rules. The theme also takes up the question of our contemporary responsibility to the natural world.

Read more about the theme in:

X

A New Government & Constitution

This theme explores the institutional history of the United States as well as the theoretical underpinnings of constitutional design.

Read more about the theme in:

X

A People in the World

This theme explores the place of the U.S. and the American people in a global context, investigating key historical events in international affairs,and building understanding of the principles, values, and laws at stake in debates about America’s role in the world.

Read more about the theme in:

X

The Seven Themes

The Seven Themes provide the organizational  framework for the Roadmap. They map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. Importantly, they are neither standards nor curriculum, but rather a starting point for the design of standards, curricula, resources, and lessons. 

X

Driving questions provide a glimpse into the types of inquiries that teachers can write and develop in support of in-depth civic learning. Think of them as a  starting point in your curricular design.

Learn more about inquiry-based learning in  the Pedagogy Companion.

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Sample guiding questions are designed to foster classroom discussion, and can be starting points for one or multiple lessons. It is important to note that the sample guiding questions provided in the Roadmap are NOT an exhaustive list of questions. There are many other great topics and questions that can be explored.

Learn more about inquiry-based learning in the Pedagogy Companion.

X

The Seven Themes

The Seven Themes provide the organizational  framework for the Roadmap. They map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. Importantly, they are neither standards nor curriculum, but rather a starting point for the design of standards, curricula, resources, and lessons. 

X

The Five Design Challenges

America’s constitutional politics are rife with tensions and complexities. Our Design Challenges, which are arranged alongside our Themes, identify and clarify the most significant tensions that writers of standards, curricula, texts, lessons, and assessments will grapple with. In proactively recognizing and acknowledging these challenges, educators will help students better understand the complicated issues that arise in American history and civics.

X

Motivating Agency, Sustaining the Republic

  • How can we help students understand the full context for their roles as civic participants without creating paralysis or a sense of the insignificance of their own agency in relation to the magnitude of our society, the globe, and shared challenges?
  • How can we help students become engaged citizens who also sustain civil disagreement, civic friendship, and thus American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we help students pursue civic action that is authentic, responsible, and informed?
X

America’s Plural Yet Shared Story

  • How can we integrate the perspectives of Americans from all different backgrounds when narrating a history of the U.S. and explicating the content of the philosophical foundations of American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we do so consistently across all historical periods and conceptual content?
  • How can this more plural and more complete story of our history and foundations also be a common story, the shared inheritance of all Americans?
X

Simultaneously Celebrating & Critiquing Compromise

  • How do we simultaneously teach the value and the danger of compromise for a free, diverse, and self-governing people?
  • How do we help students make sense of the paradox that Americans continuously disagree about the ideal shape of self-government but also agree to preserve shared institutions?
X

Civic Honesty, Reflective Patriotism

  • How can we offer an account of U.S. constitutional democracy that is simultaneously honest about the wrongs of the past without falling into cynicism, and appreciative of the founding of the United States without tipping into adulation?
X

Balancing the Concrete & the Abstract

  • How can we support instructors in helping students move between concrete, narrative, and chronological learning and thematic and abstract or conceptual learning?
X

Each theme is supported by key concepts that map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. They are vertically spiraled and developed to apply to K—5 and 6—12. Importantly, they are not standards, but rather offer a vision for the integration of history and civics throughout grades K—12.

X

Helping Students Participate

  • How can I learn to understand my role as a citizen even if I’m not old enough to take part in government? How can I get excited to solve challenges that seem too big to fix?
  • How can I learn how to work together with people whose opinions are different from my own?
  • How can I be inspired to want to take civic actions on my own?
X

America’s Shared Story

  • How can I learn about the role of my culture and other cultures in American history?
  • How can I see that America’s story is shared by all?
X

Thinking About Compromise

  • How can teachers teach the good and bad sides of compromise?
  • How can I make sense of Americans who believe in one government but disagree about what it should do?
X

Honest Patriotism

  • How can I learn an honest story about America that admits failure and celebrates praise?
X

Balancing Time & Theme

  • How can teachers help me connect historical events over time and themes?
X

The Six Pedagogical Principles

 EAD teacher draws on six pedagogical principles that are connected sequentially.

Six Core Pedagogical Principles are part of our Pedagogy Companion. The Pedagogical Principles are designed to focus educators’ effort on techniques that best support the learning and development of student agency required of history and civic education.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

EAD teachers commit to learn about and teach full and multifaceted historical and civic narratives. They appreciate student diversity and assume all students’ capacity for learning complex and rigorous content. EAD teachers focus on inclusion and equity in both content and approach as they spiral instruction across grade bands, increasing complexity and depth about relevant history and contemporary issues.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Growth Mindset and Capacity Building

EAD teachers have a growth mindset for themselves and their students, meaning that they engage in continuous self-reflection and cultivate self-knowledge. They learn and adopt content as well as practices that help all learners of diverse backgrounds reach excellence. EAD teachers need continuous and rigorous professional development (PD) and access to professional learning communities (PLCs) that offer peer support and mentoring opportunities, especially about content, pedagogical approaches, and instruction-embedded assessments.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Building an EAD-Ready Classroom and School

EAD teachers cultivate and sustain a learning environment by partnering with administrators, students, and families to conduct deep inquiry about the multifaceted stories of American constitutional democracy. They set expectations that all students know they belong and contribute to the classroom community. Students establish ownership and responsibility for their learning through mutual respect and an inclusive culture that enables students to engage courageously in rigorous discussion.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Inquiry as the Primary Mode for Learning

EAD teachers not only use the EAD Roadmap inquiry prompts as entry points to teaching full and complex content, but also cultivate students’ capacity to develop their own deep and critical inquiries about American history, civic life, and their identities and communities. They embrace these rigorous inquiries as a way to advance students’ historical and civic knowledge, and to connect that knowledge to themselves and their communities. They also help students cultivate empathy across differences and inquisitiveness to ask difficult questions, which are core to historical understanding and constructive civic participation.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Practice of Constitutional Democracy and Student Agency

EAD teachers use their content knowledge and classroom leadership to model our constitutional principle of “We the People” through democratic practices and promoting civic responsibilities, civil rights, and civic friendship in their classrooms. EAD teachers deepen students’ grasp of content and concepts by creating student opportunities to engage with real-world events and problem-solving about issues in their communities by taking informed action to create a more perfect union.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Assess, Reflect, and Improve

EAD teachers use assessments as a tool to ensure all students understand civics content and concepts and apply civics skills and agency. Students have the opportunity to reflect on their learning and give feedback to their teachers in higher-order thinking exercises that enhance as well as measure learning. EAD teachers analyze and utilize feedback and assessment for self-reflection and improving instruction.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:
EAD teachers commit to learn about and teach full and multifaceted historical and civic narratives. They appreciate student diversity and assume all students’ capacity for learning complex and rigorous content. EAD teachers focus on inclusion and equity in both content and approach as they spiral instruction across grade bands, increasing complexity and depth about relevant history and contemporary issues.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Growth Mindset and Capacity Building

EAD teachers have a growth mindset for themselves and their students, meaning that they engage in continuous self-reflection and cultivate self-knowledge. They learn and adopt content as well as practices that help all learners of diverse backgrounds reach excellence. EAD teachers need continuous and rigorous professional development (PD) and access to professional learning communities (PLCs) that offer peer support and mentoring opportunities, especially about content, pedagogical approaches, and instruction-embedded assessments.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Building an EAD-Ready Classroom and School

EAD teachers cultivate and sustain a learning environment by partnering with administrators, students, and families to conduct deep inquiry about the multifaceted stories of American constitutional democracy. They set expectations that all students know they belong and contribute to the classroom community. Students establish ownership and responsibility for their learning through mutual respect and an inclusive culture that enables students to engage courageously in rigorous discussion.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Inquiry as the Primary Mode for Learning

EAD teachers not only use the EAD Roadmap inquiry prompts as entry points to teaching full and complex content, but also cultivate students’ capacity to develop their own deep and critical inquiries about American history, civic life, and their identities and communities. They embrace these rigorous inquiries as a way to advance students’ historical and civic knowledge, and to connect that knowledge to themselves and their communities. They also help students cultivate empathy across differences and inquisitiveness to ask difficult questions, which are core to historical understanding and constructive civic participation.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Practice of Constitutional Democracy and Student Agency

EAD teachers use their content knowledge and classroom leadership to model our constitutional principle of “We the People” through democratic practices and promoting civic responsibilities, civil rights, and civic friendship in their classrooms. EAD teachers deepen students’ grasp of content and concepts by creating student opportunities to engage with real-world events and problem-solving about issues in their communities by taking informed action to create a more perfect union.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Assess, Reflect, and Improve

EAD teachers use assessments as a tool to ensure all students understand civics content and concepts and apply civics skills and agency. Students have the opportunity to reflect on their learning and give feedback to their teachers in higher-order thinking exercises that enhance as well as measure learning. EAD teachers analyze and utilize feedback and assessment for self-reflection and improving instruction.