For the past three weeks, we’ve been exploring the question “What Makes Democracy Work?” with scholars, activists, and thought leaders whose insights and stories teach us about what it takes to sustain democracy. Each Thursday we post new podcasts, essays, and related classroom resources, which can all be found on our "What Makes Democracy Work?" webpage. This week, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, we’re saying thank you to the teachers who nurture democracy in their classrooms every day.
This week, in the fourth installment of our series, "What Makes Democracy Work?" we talk with interfaith leader Eboo Patel about what it looks like to build a healthy, religiously diverse democracy. We hope you’ll join the conversation using the hashtag #DemocracyandUs!
In the third installment of our series, "What Makes Democracy Work?" we consider the role of citizens with the help of political philosopher Danielle Allen. Make sure to join the conversation using the hashtag #DemocracyAndUs!
Facing History and Ourselves is exploring “What Makes Democracy Work?” in conversation with people whose insights from history, politics, literature, and civic life help us consider what it takes to sustain democracy in our societies today. In the first installment of our series, we spoke with Ben Railton, Professor of English Studies and American Studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts who tells us about two enslaved people who successfully sued for their freedom in the early years of the American republic.
We have all seen, heard, and even felt a heightened sense of division in many communities around the world. Elections in 2016 and 2017—in England, the United States, France and Germany—have both revealed and exacerbated deep tensions in these societies. Never before has it been more important to truly understand the fundamentals of democracy. That’s why Facing History and Ourselves is launching a new campaign inviting educators, students, and community members to ask, "What makes democracy work?"
Over the next eight weeks, we’ll be exploring this question with the help of historians, legal and political scholars, and voices from literature and history—and, we hope, with you. Look for weekly blog posts and teaching resources on our new page, Democracy and Us, and join us on social media with the hashtag #DemocracyAndUs to share your ideas, stories, and classroom experiences. This week, we consider why it's important to ask fundamental questions about democracy in our societies today.
The stories are heartbreaking and chilling. In the first few weeks of 2017, identity-based hatred appears to be pervasive and on the rise. Two immigrants from India were shot in Kansas allegedly by a man who confronted them about their visa status; historical Jewish cemeteries were vandalized in St. Louis and Philadelphia; and, in Rockville, Maryland, a Jewish couple, who put up a Black Lives Matter banner outside their home, received a threatening note with the word “Jew” written in German and the ominous promise of “mayhem.” On January 29th, six people were killed and 19 were injured in a mass-shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. The victims included fathers, an academic, and local businessmen. They were in the midst of evening prayers.
Craig Silverman was studying fake news long before the world turned its attention to such a topic. In fact, he’s considered a fake news expert, now working as the media editor for BuzzFeed News. With his fingers on the pulse of a changing journalism landscape, he sees dangers and potential in the way both adults and young people absorb news and information. It’s why he’s speaking to students on March 22 for a one-hour interactive online summit, “Viral Rumors and Fact Checking,” with Facing History and Ourselves and the News Literacy Project.
As the first black president, Barack Obama's legacy will always include issues of race. At his farewell speech he acknowledged this: "After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.” His presidency reveals the longstanding myth that American history has always been on a steady, progressive path towards embracing equality for all.
This Friday, the United States will inaugurate its 45th president, Donald Trump. The tensions and divisions that were unearthed by the 2016 presidential campaign will not be put to rest once President Barack Obama transitions power to this new administration. Instead, they will require active, thoughtful, and responsible participation of citizens to work through together; our responsibilities as citizens do not end at the voting booth. This inauguration is an appropriate time to reflect and renew our engagement as committed participants in a healthy democracy. As we take stock in our own role in this, how do we also help students make sense of these divisions and assess the strength of democracy and civil society?
The 2016 presidential campaign will go down as one of the most divisive in US history. Read what it was like for high school senior, Lilly Hackworth, to vote for the first time during such a contentious race and how she used Facing History and Ourselves to help her navigate such a turbulent political climate.