Civic Schools

Civic Schools is an initiative of Sambhawana that provides schools with a framework for rigorously assessing and improving their civic education offerings through curricular and extra-curricular activities as well as opportunities for youth voice in decision making. Using a collaborative process that brings together youth and adults, we help schools think creatively about how to improve their civic health and achieve their civic mission.

Civics 2.0 is a new vision for civic education in which civic skills and understandings are integrated across the curriculum, embraced in all aspects of school governance, and built on strong connections with the community.  It is a paradigm shift in the way we think about civics, moving beyond the traditional approach of offering a single course in civics that is disconnected from other academics studies, school governance, and the surrounding community.  Civics 2.0 is built on the recognition that while the central aim of civic education – preparing youth for active citizenship – is imperative, the traditional means of achieving that goal are deficient for meeting the demands of our increasingly complex society.

“Integrated across the curriculum”
Civics 2.0 recognizes that there is more than one way to effectively teach civics.  The initiative will encourage schools to integrate civic skills and academic content and helping students make connections between their academic subjects and current events, controversial issues, and public policy decisions being made at the local, state, federal, and even international levels.  Civics 2.0 will also encourage schools to create new and innovative civics courses that are connected to the school’s academic theme or career pathway.

“Embraced in all aspects of school governance”
Civics 2.0 envisions schools as laboratories of democracy in which student voice is encouraged and valued and in which students have myriad opportunities to participate in school governance and shape the school community.  Civic skills are in large measure taught outside the confines of the curriculum, in the way that young people are treated from the moment they enter the school building.  In short, it is not possible to inculcate the habits needed for democratic citizenship in an institution that bears no resemblance to a democratic community.  Civics 2.0 calls on schools to embrace youth civic engagement as a core value that is reflected in school culture and reinforced through extra-curricular activities, service learning opportunities, and externships.

“Built on strong connections to the community
Civics 2.0 welcomes greater collaboration and interaction between schools and the surrounding community.  Because civic engagement frequently occurs on the local level, civic education should be tailored to reflect the community’s unique social, economic, and political history.  This stands in contrast to Civics 1.0, which draws heavily from civics textbooks, which are marketed to schools across the country and therefore focused heavily on national institutions.  One example of this is “action based civics,” an approach that will involve trained college students into schools to help students design and implement a civic action project in their community.