A Sample Potential Offering...
a Constitution" Project
This project is an opportunity
for students of American history and civics to experience first-hand
some of the issues and decisions faced by the framers of the
U.S. Constitution. Participants will learn about different political
and economic systems, analyze constitutions from several countries,
and work together to create their own constitution based on what
they've learned and their own values. Group decision-making by
consensus will be a major element of this project, which has
1. Background on the Country
We'll look at what the U.S. was like at the time of the
writing of the Constitution including geography, population,
etc. What were the underlying assumptions, values, ideas, and
issues that influenced the framers?
- The group will invent its own country and decide on some of
the basic background information. We will discuss the beliefs
they hold in common, as well as those that are different, and
decide on the values that will form the foundation of their government
and its constitution.
2. Political and Economic Systems
We'll look at a number of different political and economic
systems that are used throughout the world. Particular attention
will be paid to how capitalism and representative democracy play
out in the U.S.
The group will discuss the pros and cons of various systems
and will work together to choose political and economic systems
for the invented country.
3. Analysis of Constitutions
-- We will examine the constitutions from several different countries
with different types of governments and socioeconomic conditions
(including the U.S.).
What can be learned about each country from its constitution?
- How are decisions and laws made?
- What is the balance of power and responsibility? Are there
provisions to keep any one person/group from getting too powerful?
- What human/civil rights are protected and how?
How is each constitution structured and written? What are
4. Designing the Government
The group will discuss the pros and cons of different ways
of organizing a government. We'll look at branches of government,
the idea of balance of power, local vs. national political power,
etc. The rights, powers, and responsibilities of the individual
will also be discussed.
The group will then work together to decide how the invented
country will be governed and how rights will be protected for
the people. The values and beliefs agreed upon earlier in the
class will serve as guiding principles.
5. Writing the Constitution
Estimated time frame: six
2-hr classes or eight 1 1/2-hr classes
The group will work together to write a constitution for
the invented country based on the decisions that have been made.
Students will work individually and in pairs to describe each
element in writing, using the constitutions we have looked at
as a general guide to structure and form.