Professional Learning

The  Democratic Knowledge Project (DKP) at the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics offers research-based curricular materials and professional learning opportunities that support educating for constitutional democracy. We have partnered with Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to design and deliver high quality, engaging opportunities to delve into civic education that is grounded in the day-to-day work of teachers.

Civic Summer Institute for Learning and Teaching:
The Civic Summer Institute for Learning and Teaching aims to create a powerful learning community of civics teachers from across the country who will share effective practices and distill guiding principles that can inform and enrich civic learning for educators across the country. The Democratic Knowledge Project will host a group of 12 eighth grade and high school teachers at a one-week, expenses-paid Civic Learning Institute at the Schoodic Institute campus in Acadia, Maine: Sunday, July 30 – Saturday August 5, 2023. To learn more, please visit the institute program website. To apply, please complete the application form here.

Coming July 18-20th! Join the DKP for a three-day in-person institute focused on our 8th grade curriculum, “Civic Engagement in Our Democracy.”
The DKP has worked with 60 educators in more than 15 districts in MA over the past four years to codesign, pilot, and redesign a year-long civics curriculum, entitled “Civic Engagement in Our Democracy, that is aligned with both the Massachusetts state requirements for civic education and, nationally, the Educating for American Democracy roadmap for high-quality history and civic education. The MA Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has recognized the curriculum as one of four that meet  DESE's standards for high quality (out of nearly 100 reviewed by an expert educator panel). “Civic Engagement in Our Democracy” will be widely released starting in summer 2023.

We believe that access to high-quality civics curriculum, experiential civic learning, and communities of practice are essential for teachers if they are to support deeper civic learning for students.  This in-person institute will provide Massachusetts educators with an introduction to the curriculum, including a focus on its core pedagogies and the instructional strategies embedded within it.
Learn more and register here.

Deeper Civic Learning Series:
We offer a series of 2-3 hour virtual professional learning workshops during the school year  focused on supporting deeper civic learning* in the classroom. The workshop series highlights different tools and frameworks that are integrated into the DKP curriculum and which support a learner-centered approach that encourages student curiosity, critical thinking, and readiness to participate in their communities.  Please see more information for our 2022-23 offerings here.

Student-led civics projects:
The DKP also provides opportunities focused solely on supporting teachers in implementing student-led civics projects for middle and high school educators. We partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in developing the Civics Project Guidebook: Guidance to Support Implementation of Chapter 296 of the Acts of 2018, An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement.

The DKP team has multiple examples of student-led civic projects implemented in classrooms in Massachusetts. We offer a multi-district approach for professional development and supports that combines both virtual and in-person opportunities at Harvard University or an approach that brings the DKP team to a district with more local opportunities for in-person supports.

We are  happy to talk with you about our professional learning workshops and instructional supports for educators. Contact to talk further about how we can support your district.

*For the Democratic Knowledge Project, deeper civic learning involves helping students cultivate the core civic dispositions of

-civic self-confidence: having the knowledge and skills needed to participate effectively in our democracy

-civic reciprocity: being able to understand and respect others’ values and goals and recognize that, in a democracy, it is important to understand how and when compromise is needed

-civic self-care: the ability to analyze the risks involved in civic participation in order to safely and responsibly engage with others

Students develop a civic identity by integrating their understanding  of their personal identity and values, knowledge about our constitutional democracy, and the skills necessary for effective civic participation.

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The Democratic Knowledge Project is an initiative of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.