Since its founding, our republic has relied on civil discourse to further the goals of democracy and reinforce the principles enshrined in the Constitution. More than just a right, it is every generation citizens’ responsibility to strive for a “more perfect union” by engaging with differing perspectives, democratic values, and our shared history.
Why a Civil Discourse Toolkit?
Tools for civil discourse enable people to face challenging conversations and welcome divergent viewpoints. They encourage solutions that consider diverse stakeholders while still remaining rooted in our country’s history and founding principles. As Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch states, “Civil discourse is the engine of American democracy.”
That is why the Center for Civic Education, with funding from Annenberg Public Policy Center and in partnership with Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) in Maryland, has created this toolkit: to promote civil discourse in lifelong, adult learners.
What Is the Civil Discourse Toolkit?
Who Is the Civil Discourse Toolkit For?
What Are the Discourse Models in the Toolkit?
This project was funded under the 2022 Leonore Annenberg Civic Mission of the Nation Initiative, sponsored by the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics. LAIC is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.


Principles of the Constitution

Take a quick trip back to the founding era to learn about the roots of representative government, limited government, separation of powers, and the many compromises that led to our Constitution. What is the distinction between a republic and a democracy? This exploration lays the groundwork for rich dialogues on government power, the ongoing tension between state and national power, and American democratic values in action, both now and over time.

The Evolution of Political Parties

Have our political parties always been this contentious? What purposes do political parties serve? Our two party-system was present at the founding, but the evolution of political parties in America has not been linear. Explore the nuances within liberal and conservative factions. Prepare to engage in discourse about the benefit and harm political parties cause and what role the people have in them.

Women’s Rights

How far have women’s rights come and how much further do we need to go? Explore seminal events, cases, and texts such as the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, Minor v. Happersett (1875), Roe v. Wade (1973), Dobbs v. Jackson (2022), and the Equal Rights Amendment. Prepare to engage in discourse around what needs to be done to secure women’s equal rights once and for all.

Civil Rights

Since its founding, the Constitution has been used, challenged, and made more perfect. All of this has been done to secure civil rights for groups whose rights have not always been protected. Explore the history of civil rights in America from its founding to today. How did Reconstruction amendments, civil rights legislation, and court cases like Brown v. the Board of Education shape the evolution of American civil rights? What issues still remain today? Prepare to engage in discourse on our country’s history with civil rights and what that means today and in the future.


The concept of American citizenship has evolved since America’s founding. Connected to the right to vote, the experience of citizenship has been different for many in America. Explore events, texts, and decisions such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to consider the evolution of citizenship in America and its dichotomy of inclusion and exclusion. Prepare to engage in discourse on what makes an American citizen.

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