PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 17, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Constitution Center today launched the Interactive Constitution, a new online tool that transforms the U.S Constitution into a truly 21st century educational experience. The Center also announced that it will partner with the College Board, a not-for-profit membership organization that connects students to college success and opportunity, to make the Interactive Constitution widely accessible for teachers and students across the country.
Editors, please note: A complete list of scholars contributing to the Interactive Constitution follows below.
Available at constitutioncenter.org/constitution starting September 17, the Interactive Constitution is the centerpiece of a multi-year, multi-project $5.5 million grant awarded from the John Templeton Foundation.
To create the Interactive Constitution, the National Constitution Center established the Coalition of Freedom, an advisory board co-chaired by leaders of the American Constitution Society and The Federalist Society, to commission scholars in America with different legal approaches and views to contribute explanatory material about all provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the Amendments. Users will be able to click on any provision of the U.S. Constitution and read statements from leading scholars across the political and philosophical spectrum about what they agree, and disagree, about, in its meaning.
The result will be a first-of-its-kind, one-stop resource where users can explore the most current debates about the U.S. Constitution with legal scholars from a range of perspectives.
"The Interactive Constitution is a unique and meaningful educational tool that has the potential to transform constitutional discourse in America," said Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center. "It's exciting to bring together some of the top legal scholars in America to explore areas of agreement and disagreement about the text and history of the Constitution, the one document that unites all Americans in these polarized times."
The Interactive Constitution also includes a related tool, the Rights Interactive, which allows users to click on any provision of the U.S. Bill of Rights, explore its historic antecedents in colonial and revolutionary era constitutions and then trace its influence around the globe. For example, users can click on the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures and compare the text with that of the Japanese Constitution's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures which matches it almost word for word, or the Russian Constitution, which looks entirely different.
In a joint presentation with the National Constitution Center today, the College Board will announce that the Interactive Constitution is now a feature tool for several Advanced Placement history and government courses. The announcement is part of a broader effort foster sustained analytical reading and writing through deep engagement with the U.S. Founding Documents.
"America's Founding Documents, and the Constitution in particular, have inspired a great conversation about freedom, justice, and human dignity that continues to this day. It is a conversation that we need more students to be prepared to join through the careful study of these remarkable documents," said College Board president and CEO David Coleman. "We are delighted to partner with the National Constitution Center to help deliver the Interactive Constitution to students and teachers across the country."
The College Board has developed lesson plans for AP U.S. Government and Politics, and AP Comparative Government and Politics connected with the Interactive Constitution, and is in the process of developing a module for AP U.S. History.
In each lesson, students will use the interactive tools to read and analyze a Founding Document and link directly to an AP theme or learning objective. Each lesson includes activities and discussion questions tied to AP course instruction. Each module is intended to serve as a full lesson plan for teachers to use in their classrooms, and provide an example for how the Interactive Constitution can be used to teach content and skills in other AP classes.
"The Interactive Constitution enhances student learning of significant issues through explorations of primary documents, scholarly commentaries, and in-depth analysis. As an AP educator, I'm excited about the ways it will help teachers of all academic levels to enrich their students understanding of our Constitution," said David C. Burton, AP U.S. History teacher, Southmoore High School, Oklahoma.
Students and teachers can begin using the modules for Advanced Placement U.S. government and comparative government and politics for the current school year. The AP U.S. history module will be completed later this year. Teachers and students can access the lessons from the course homepages whether they participate in the AP program or not.
The Interactive Constitution is the result of a three-year, $5.5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to increase awareness of the rights established by the U.S. Constitution and founding documents. The grant also supports the National Constitution Center's traveling America's Town Hall debates and other educational initiatives.
"The U.S. Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees depend on an educated and engaged citizenry," said Daniel Austin Green, Director of Individual Freedom and Free Markets at the John Templeton Foundation. "We are excited by the promise of the Interactive Constitution to provide every student and citizen across the national with the tools they need to better understand our founding documents and freedoms."
"The National Constitution Center is honored to work with the American Constitution Society, the Federalist Society, and the College Board to bring this remarkable, free online platform to every student in America," said Rosen. "We are the only private, nonprofit institution in America chartered by Congress to bring all sides together to discuss the Constitution and it's hard to imagine a better way of encouraging all citizens to set aside their partisan differences and explore the best arguments on all sides of the Constitutional debates at the center of American life."
About the National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia inspires active citizenship as the only place where people across America and around the world can come together to learn about, debate, and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. A private, nonprofit organization, the Center serves as America's leading platform for constitutional education and debate, fulfilling its Congressional charter "to disseminate information about the U.S. Constitution on a non-partisan basis." As the Museum of We the People, the Center brings the Constitution to life for visitors of all ages through interactive programs and exhibits. As America's Town Hall, the Center brings the leading conservative and liberal thought leaders together to debate the Constitution on all media platforms. As a center for Civic Education, the Center delivers the best educational programs and online resources that inspire, excite, and engage citizens about the U.S. Constitution. For more information, call 215-409-6700 or visit constitutioncenter.org.
About the College Board
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world's leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success - including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators, and schools. For further information, visit collegeboard.org.
About the John Templeton Foundation
The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. The Foundation supports research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. It encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights. The Foundation's vision is derived from the late Sir John Templeton's optimism about the possibility of acquiring "new spiritual information" and from his commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The Foundation's motto, "How little we know, how eager to learn," exemplifies its support for open-minded inquiry and its hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries. For more information, visit templeton.org.
In addition to white papers by Richard Beeman, Reva Siegel, Robert Post, Steven Calabresi, Jeff Rosen and David Rubenstein, scholars contributing to the Interactive Constitution include:
First Amendment/Establishment Clause
First Amendment/Free Exercise Clause
First Amendment/Freedom of Speech and Press Clause
First Amendment/Assembly and Petition Clause
Gordon S. Wood
Fifth Amendment/Criminal Procedure Clauses
Fifth Amendment/Due Process Clause
Fifth Amendment/Takings Clause
Eduardo M. Peñalver
Michael Louis Seidman
Jennifer Mason McAward
Fourteenth Amendment/Privileges & Immunities Clause
Fourteenth Amendment/Due Process Clause
Fourteenth Amendment/Equal Protection Clause
Fourteenth Amendment/Enforcement Clause
Source: National Constitution Center