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.

Visit this page weekly for new interviews with scholars and thought leaders, essays and stories from history and literature to enliven your lesson plans, and teaching resources to engage your students. And join us on social media with #DemocracyAndUs to add your voice to this urgent civic conversation.

New! Week of April 18, 2017

Hear the story of how Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker successfully sued for their freedom in the early days of American democracy.

Use this lesson to connect the story of Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker to other events in history and reflect on what their cases illuminate about democracy today.

Explore the essential questions behind our #DemocracyAndUs campaign.

More Materials From The Campaign -- Week of April 11, 2017

  • Lesson: Defining Democracy
    Help students create working definitions of democracy and consider the relationship between democracy and community.

  • Blog Post: How To Assess The Strength of a Democracy
    What keeps democracies vital and strong? Use this “Checklist for a Healthy Democracy” to start conversations in the classroom and beyond.

  • Blog Post: What next? How to move forward after a divisive election
    Read tips and inspiration from divided societies and fragile democracies around the world who have experienced divisive elections.

  • Reading: Invoking History in Today's Politics
    This article emphasizes the importance of using historical perspective to ask probing questions about our country and our choices.

  • Reading:  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.

Reminder: Visit this page every Thursday in April and May 2017 for new content!

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