Art+ Civics Curriculum Development


2021. Funded by the Institute of Politics, Florida State University

This study examined the coupling of art and civics education to develop effective and evidence-based curriculum focused on civic engagement and political participation in secondary school students.

In this project we heeded a call to action, to reimagine what civics education should look like in communities often excluded from the official narrative of what it means to participate in American civic life. More specifically, as arts educators, we were interested in how the art classroom might become a central locale for teaching towards civic participation.

Our research questions were:

How might a civics education curriculum use art to become responsive to, inclusive of, and in the service of communities whose status as civic actors is frequently called into question?

In what ways do interdisciplinary curricular collaborations, like this one between art and civics teachers, impact the educators’ understanding of civic education?

What curricular strategies – essential questions, instructional techniques, learning objectives – can teachers develop to align their teaching with known measures of civic engagement?



Project progression

Professional Development Workshops


Teachers and the research team met monthly to discuss how to teach toward civic engagement, and the contribution art making has in this process.



Each teacher team developed a unit that integrated art making and civic action, to implement in the 2021/22 academic year.

Art+Civics for the Institute of Politics a presentation by Rachel Fendler & Sara Scott Shields

Curriculum Maps


Arts+Civics Teacher Teams

The GA Team includes 3 teachers –Susan Barnes, Pamela Haskins & Dr. Yvette Ledford – from Ron Clark Academy, a private middle school in Atlanta.

Their unit asks: How does knowledge of history affect student engagement in their community? How can students who attain this knowledge help retain the historical integrity of Brownsville/Southeast Atlanta?

The MA Team includes Jessica Howard and Sol Rheem, from Somerville High School.

Their unit asks: How can we tell stories of oppression and resistance that transform the future?

The FL Team includes Allison Bolah and Christopher Horne, from Deerfield Beach High School.

Their unit asks: how can we unearth buried histories through the production of stories, living archives, and community action?

The NJ/NY Team includes teachers Kandice Stewart and Marjorie Levinson, from Columbia HS NJ and DREAM Charter Middle School NY, respectively.

This unit asks: how can students use ‘evidenced based art making’ to become involved as an activist in their own communities?




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Meet the teachers


4 teams, 9 teachers, 5 schools