University of Illinois at Chicago

Teaching civic engagement

“Democracy needs to be born anew every generation, and education is the midwife.”

As we start a new school year amid protests and serious questions about the state of our democracy, this sentiment expressed by John Dewey in 1916 holds particular poignancy. It reflects growing urgency to consider how, in our rush toward other goals, policymakers and educators may be ignoring the need to continually invest in the foundations of democracy.

The seeming unending roller coaster of events in the last year has ignited fierce debates about the aims of American democracy and unveiled deep divisions within the citizenry. These divisions are exacerbated by the reality that large...

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