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2013 Conference- What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and Why It Matters




The Center hosted its first National Advisory Committee (NAC) meeting in conjunction with a working conference in Indianapolis, August 23-25, 2013. The goals of the conference were to:

• Generate an interdisciplinary discussion about the relevance of civic literacy to a wide range of disciplines, and

• Develop questions and new partnerships for research on this topic.

The Center invited all members of the NAC and select local and national partners in the areas of civic education, research, and practice. Over 50 experts and practitioners in the field attended the conference.

Conference Highlights and Next Steps

Center-affiliated scholars  and staff felt that this conference was a success on a number of dimensions: participants were enthusiastic and engaged and the content was focused and intellectually stimulating. We offer highlights below:

photo_Walter Parker• NAC member, Walter Parker, delivered the introductory address. He spoke about how scholars and educators have developed, implemented and evaluated best practices in civics education, but noted that there remains a lack of equity among schools in terms of employing such best practices.

• During the opening session, Center Director, Sheila Suess Kennedy, discussed her motivations for establishing the center and described the evidence and effects of our “civic deficit.”

photo_Cherie Strachan• Keynote speaker, J. Cherie Strachan, detailed her research in terms of the voting patterns of younger citizens and how the numbers speak to a much larger disintegration of civil society and voluntary organizations.

• The interdisciplinary importance of civic literacy was addressed by scholars affiliated with the Center, during the panel on “State of Civic Literacy across the Disciplines—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); Social Science; Humanities; and Professional Schools.”

• Four concurrent panel discussions on the role of civic literacy (or lack thereof) in Governing, Education, the Economy/Marketplace, and Civil Society, addressed a number of key questions:

-What effects do deficits in civic knowledge have for governing?Education Roundtable Panel

-What is the nature of the problem to be solved?

-What research should be conducted either to improve our understanding of those deficits or to identify successful  ways to address them?

-Who should be conducting this research?

-What research questions should be addressed first?

• NAC member, Shawn Healy, delivered “The Charge.” He described many of the very best Civics outcomes in K12 and Higher Education. Tasked with motivating the participants to action, Healy stated that much remains to be accomplished, but there are significant strengths to build on in the area of Civics Education.

The Center’s stated goal was to come out of the weekend with a set of research priorities. A number of topics were identified that provide the Center with a starting point for conversation and for the production of an initial research agenda.

Download PDF: 2013 Conference Participants