A conference on “The Future of Civic Education in the 21st Century,” sponsored jointly by the Center and Germany’s Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Political Education), was held in Virginia in September 2008.
It was the latest in a series of conferences co-sponsored by the Center and the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung which, since 1986, have explored themes related to democracy and the development of an enlightened citizenry. The 2008 event was held at James Madison’s Montpelier in central Virginia as part of celebrations to mark the restoration of the President’s residence.
In his welcoming speech, Will Harris, the founding director and principal scholar at Montpelier’s Center for the Constitution, focused on Madison’s depth of constitutional understanding as an inspiration.
At the conference, scholars and practitioners from the United States and Germany presented and discussed their political science research and civic education experience.
“The most remarkable thing about this conference was the linkages between the papers over the course of several days,” said Kevin Ryan, the director of education and communication at the Vermont Bar Association. “Rather than a series of only loosely connected discussions, all of the discussions seemed closely connected.”
One of the highlights of the weeklong event was a visit to the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies in Richmond, Virginia. Conference participants observed classes in American history, world history, government, and public policy, and interacted with students, teachers, and administrators at a special forum.