The DKP began in 2008 as Principal Investigator Danielle Allen’s basic research lab at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where she was an Institute faculty member. Dr. Allen focused her lab on three key areas—(1) the Declaration of Independence, the American founding, and American political thought and institutions; (2) the impact of new media and digital technologies on youth civic development; and (3) assessment in the humanities and liberal arts. Since the majority of instructors and practitioners in these domains understand their pedagogy to have a civic purpose, this assessment work quickly evolved in the direction of assessment for civic education. In 2015, Allen moved to Harvard as Faculty Director of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics and brought her lab with her.
Over time, the DKP began to develop resources for teachers. In order to know if what we were building had any value, we also built networks of teacher-leaders to tell us what was useful and to help guide our resource development. This led us to build a co-design practice for curricular development where we partner with educators. Our teacher networks also grew into educator professional development communities, and we grew into a professional development and coaching provider.
In February 2018, the DKP decided to make a full pivot to add a formal implementation arm to our basic research practice. The faculty advisory committee of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics endorsed this development as a formal initiative of the Ethics Center. We launched as a civic ed provider in parallel to the development and passage of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ 2018 History and Social Studies Framework.