What Makes Democracy Work?

History teaches us that democracies are fragile. But what makes democracy work? Join us to learn, discuss and teach about the importance of #DemocracyAndUs.


What does it take to sustain democracy? In today’s world, political and social tensions, eroding trust in institutions, and rising incidents of hatred and bigotry make this question more essential than ever.

Use this collection of lessons, podcasts and blog posts to teach your students about the fundamentals of democracy and the importance of engaged citizenship.

Join us on Twitter with #DemocracyAndUs to add your voice to this urgent civic conversation.

Download our reading list made in collaboration with the School Library Journal. Foundations for Future Voters: Books on Democracy and Citizenship includes recommendations for students ranging all grade levels. 
Discuss with students the connection between literature, imagination, and democracy by engaging with the work of acclaimed author Azar Nafisi.

Explore the essential questions behind our #DemocracyAndUs campaign.

What Makes Democracy Work | Week of June 6, 2017


  • Lesson: Free Press Makes Democracy Work

    Help students explore the relationship between a free press and responsible citizenship by listening to interviews with journalists.

Help students create working definitions of democracy and consider the relationship between democracy and community.

Discuss citizenship, power, and responsibility with your students using a podcast and video featuring civic entrepreneur Eric Liu.

Examine with your students how South Africa's particular history and culture influence the ways its citizens understand and practice democracy.

Blog Posts, Podcasts & Other Teaching Tools:

 Readings on Democracy:

  •  Invoking History in Today's Politics
    This article emphasizes the importance of using historical perspective to ask probing questions about democracy and decision-making.

  •  We the People in the United States
    Learn how the US Constitution’s promise of equal protection under the law has been questioned throughout US history in debates over issues such as women's right to vote and birthright citizenship.

Thank you for joining the conversation on this critically important issue. While the weekly page updates for What Makes Democracy Work have ended, these new lesson plans and other teaching resources will continue to be accessible here for you to share with other educators and bring into your classroom.

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Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.