The NAS report explains the difference between the goals of traditional civic literacy and the goals of Civic Engagement — and why the former must first be destroyed in order to advance the latter. For example, students coming out of the New Civics movement may not have read the Federalist Papers or Washington’s Farewell Address, but they will be well versed in Washington’s ownership of slaves and the ” institutionalized hypocrisy” of the assertion “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence. In short, the New Civics teaches students not that America is an exceptionally successful and noble country but a country in need of a radical “rebirthing.”
More than that, the message is that because of these deep imperfections, students have a civic duty to become “engaged” in political activism to right the wrongs inherited from the past — and since no occupation or profession is exempt from this duty, it is a fundamental part of the mission of the university to support and advance those activist commitments in all disciplines of study.
The three-year 525-page MAKING CITIZENS report uses four in-depth case studies to document and illustrates the “New Civics” movement. The four institutions are the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University at Ft. Collins, the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Public documents were augmented by interviews, course syllabi, and classroom observations where possible.