Colorado students getting an injection of civics education

  • Students coming back to school at the University of Colorado may be more likely to be exposed to documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
  • A Republican Board of Regents member is behind the initiative.

The Colorado University Board of Regents voted to create civics certificate programs and other initiatives designed to increase students’ proficiency in the subject by taking courses on founding documents like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Several proposals, which were approved during a June meeting, according to The Denver Post, have tasked the undergraduate University of Colorado campuses to develop plans to offer students a more comprehensive civics education through certificate programs and minors, online resources, and courses on founding U.S. documents.

"An awful lot of unpleasant disagreement and fighting among people with different ideas and not approaching it in a civil way"   

[RELATED: USC ignores state law, refuses US civics graduation requirement]

The four civics proposals were introduced during a February board meeting by Republican Regent John Carson. The four parts include a request for each campus to begin a civics certificate program with classes available by spring 2020, for the Denver and Colorado Springs campuses to include a civics course as part of an online student program, for CU schools to survey incoming 2019 freshmen on civics knowledge, and for each system campus to “enhance civics education beyond certificates.”

“We seem to be in a period of time where there’s just an awful lot of unpleasant disagreement and fighting among people with different ideas and not approaching it in a civil way,” Carson explained to the Denver Post. “We wanted to suggest we have a very good system of government here that’s worked for over 200 years and people need to get back to saying, ‘Hey, this worked. You had this disagreement. You worked them out through this process. It’s a good process.’”

[RELATED: University regents consider required course on Constitution]

CU’s undergraduate campuses, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Denver, have been tasked with coming up with their own civics curricula to fulfill the regents’ initiative. While the Colorado Springs campus proposal was approved by the board, Boulder and Denver campuses were sent back for revisions.

“We felt like with the other two campuses, we wanted to see more focus on the actual founding documents, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers, those type[s] of things,” Carson told the Denver Post. “Their civic engagement aspects were solid, but I think we wanted to see more on the founding documents and evolution of our system of government from them.”

The Colorado Springs initiative passed 6-3 during a June meeting. The campus proposal was comprised of seven elements, including civics and civic engagement certifications through the political science and U.S. history departments, respectively, an expanded pre-law minor, an American Constitution program, a new course on intellectual property, the expansion of the current GeoCivics program, and the adaptation of an existing American political system course into an online resource for high school students.

[RELATED: College leaders OPPOSE adding U.S. history, civics req to graduate]

So far, the overall cost of these initiatives is unknown, but the Colorado Springs campus civics program is estimated to total half a million dollars annually, the Denver Post reported

“I believe we are respecting the faculty role as creators of content while also responding to a need in our communities,” Sue Sharkey, chair of the Board of Regents, said when the civics enhancements were first proposed.

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Grace Gottschling
Grace Gottschling | Investigative Reporter

Grace Gottschling is the Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey.

1 Articles by Grace Gottschling