Improving Civic Literacy, Celebrating Freedom

Articles

The American Constitution and Bill of Rights are celebrated around the world. But how well do Americans understand the historic roots and current significance of their natural rights and liberties? Might the quality of constitutional debate be improved? Can civic literacy be expanded?

This is the aim of the Coalition of Freedom, a three-year project funded by the John Templeton Foundation and supervised by Jeffrey Rosen, President of the National Constitution Center (NCC), the first and only institution in America established by Congress to “disseminate information about the Constitution on a non-partisan basis.”

The organization recently dedicated its new George H.W. Bush Gallery, which will display rare copies of America’s founding documents over the next three years. “This new gallery and exhibit will be the focal point for debate and education about the meaning of the Bill of Rights—at the National Constitution Center, online, and around the country,” explains Rosen.

Through December 2017, the exhibition will display a first edition stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence, a copy of the first public printing of the Constitution, and an original Bill of Rights—one of 12 surviving copies sent to the states by President George Washington in 1789. The Coalition of Freedom project will include the creation of a web-based interactive Constitution for exploring the provisions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; play-writing and essay contests for students in 6th, 8th, and 12th grades in the Philadelphia region and across the nation; and debates, blog posts, and podcasts from the NCC that engage leading political scholars.