Civic Learning Research

The Institute for Citizens & Scholars is fundamentally rethinking how we prepare young people to be productive lifelong citizens. We must think beyond the high school civics class and consider all the places and ways young people build their civic capacities.  

Research into civic learning is a vital foundation for all the work Citizens & Scholars does to shape an informed, productively engaged, and hopeful citizenry. This work began with and is informed by the 2019 whitepaper, From Civic Education to a Civic Learning Ecosystem. 


A broader conception of civic education that that recognizes the long-term, multidimensional approach to young people gaining civic knowledge, practicing civic skills, and developing civic dispositions

Civic learning encompasses learning both in school and in our communities, religious institutions, homes, and online. 

Key Findings From the Work

There is far more agreement about the ultimate aims of civic education than any of us imagined.

Of the hundreds of disparate organizations currently in the civic education and learning space, an almost uniform consensus was reached that the current system of civic education needs to be reimagined and rebuilt for the 21st century.

To develop and implement a new and improved system of civic learning, we need to build the field of civic learning.

We must consider the entire ecosystem of civic learning. Each place where civic learning happens relies on the other. If society doesn’t prioritize civic learning, schools and other institutions will not either.

We need to think beyond the high school civics class to imagine a lifetime of civic learning and practice.

The civic learning field must include young people from 0–24 and span learning opportunities in K–12, higher education, out-of-school-time organizations, communities, digital spaces, families, and religious institutions.

Collaboration will not always be easy, but it is the only way forward.

Change depends on a coalition of partners from across the ideological spectrum committed to doing this work together.

Additional Resources

A live, searchable database of 244+ organizations working in the civic learning space is available online. The organizations listed include 1.) those whose work is solely focused on civic learning, primarily among young people, 2.) those whose primary focus is tangential to civic learning but impactful in the space, and 3.) those whose work supports the overall health of the civic learning ecosystem. 

The research database attempts to bring together research from the many academic disciplines that inform the field of civic learning. The database includes 215 articles or studies from the fields of education, political science, developmental psychology, sociology, philosophy, community psychology, environmental education, and community health. 

The policy database contains a state-by-state listing of all the legislation and regulartions that explicitly address government and/or civics in the given state. Policies are organized into six categories: graduation requirement, curriculum framework, assessment required for graduation, assessment not required for graduation, accreditation, and civic education commission