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Timeline

Article I creates the two sections of Congress – the Senate and the House – and outlines its powers and limits.

Timeline

The framers specified the powers of Congress in great detail in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. They include the power to declare war.

Handout

In this unit, students will learn how to take their research on a community-based issue that they care about and create a video. By showing their video to elected officials, policymakers, the general public and their peers, students may add their voices to the dialogue about community issues.

Handout

This lesson for Spanish-speaking students requires students to analyze data, explain data, and articulate their ideas about civic participation.

Handout

Students will: Interpret data about voting patterns by age group. Discuss possible reasons for current turnout statistics. Write an essay articulating why they think young people should vote.

Handout

In this lesson, students analyze the interplay of processes and procedures that courts use to seat an impartial jury and gain appreciation for the essential role of juries in the justice system. They also explore the responsibilities and limits placed on government by the Constitution in the context of civil and criminal trials.

Handout

The first section of the film “Key Constitutional Concepts” examines the creation of the U.S. Constitution and why it was needed. Before viewing the film, students are asked to respond to a key question, which will set a conversation in motion for the whole lesson.

Handout

This lesson explores the four Supreme Court cases known as the Guantanamo cases. These cases are examples of how the Court, the president and even Congress fought to balance national security and civil liberties during the war on terror, a war that continues to this day.

Book

Republicanism is a theory of government that emphasizes the participation of citizens for the common good of the community. The responsibilities and duties of citizens are paramount, and the exemplary citizen readily subordinates personal to public interests.

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We live in an era of democracy. A majority of the world’s people live in countries with a democratic form of government, and many others desire democracy. This is a startling new development.

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Further reading suggestions for those interested in more on Understanding Democracy: a Hip Pocket Guide.

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Virtue is excellence in the character of a person. It refers to a desirable disposition, which can prompt individuals to be good persons and to do good things in regard to others and the community in general. Civic virtue refers to the dispositions or habits of behavior that direct citizens to subordinate their personal interests when necessary to contribute significantly to the common good of their community.

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In a unitary state, the central or national government has complete authority over all other political divisions or administrative units.

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A state is a political community occupying a specific territory that claims sovereignty or independence in the exercise of power over the people of its territory. The state or nation-state is the basic political unit of the international community.

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Social democracy is a system of political thought and action that calls upon the government to provide certain social and economic rights or entitlements necessary to the well being of all members of the community.

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The separation of powers among three independent branches of government is a defining characteristic of the presidential system that characterizes the institutions of some constitutional democracies, such as Argentina, Brazil, Panama, the Philippines, and the United States of America.

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In a limited government administered according to the rule of law, the rulers use power following established principles and procedures based on a constitution. By contrast, when the rulers wield power capriciously, there is rule by the unbridled will of individuals without regard for established law.

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A right is a person’s justifiable claim, protected by law, to act or be treated in a certain way. For example, the constitutions of democracies throughout the world guarantee the political rights of individuals, such as the rights of free speech, press, assembly, association, and petition.

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A republic is a form of government based on the consent of the people and operated by representatives elected by the people. Hereditary rule by a monarchy or an aristocratic class is prohibited.

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Some representative and constitutional democracies have a presidential system of government, which is based on the separation and sharing of powers among three independent and coordinate branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial.

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Popular sovereignty is government based on the consent of the people. The government’s source of authority is the people, and its power is not legitimate if it disregards the will of the people. Government established by the free choice of the people is expected to serve the people, who have sovereignty, or supreme power.

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A political party in a democracy is an independent and freely formed organization that nominates candidates for positions in government with the purpose of winning elections in order to form or control the government.

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Pluralism in a democracy is the widespread distribution of political power and influence within the state and civil society. Individuals and groups can express different points of view freely, independently, and effectively in order to influence public opinion and the decisions of government.

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Participation by citizens in their civil society and government is a necessary, if not sufficient, condition of democracy. Civic participation refers to the voluntary activities of citizens in forming and sustaining independent nongovernmental organizations that contribute to the well-being of the community.