CRC Hosts Founding Civics Institute 

Center for Responsible Citizenship, News
CRC Founding Civics Institute participants and staff

On May 29-31, Lee University’s Center for Responsible Citizenship (CRC) hosted its inaugural Founding Civics Institute for Tennessee educators. Over the course of nine seminars, 25 regional middle and high school teachers discussed primary sources from the American Founding, with a view to their continued relevance. 

“The three short days I spent at the Lee University’s Founding Civics Institute deepened my understanding of the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution,” said Casey O’Connor, a social studies teacher from Cleveland Middle School. “It was fun and refreshing to converse with others who may not share the same opinions, but who are equally passionate about civics education. I look forward to implementing the strategies and insights provided by the Founding Civics Institute in my classroom.” 

The conversations were led by Lee faculty Drs. Thomas Pope and Mark Scully, as well as John McBride, a Chattanooga native and recent co-author of “A Teacher’s Guide to Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story.” Readings included selections from “Land of Hope,” James Madison’s “Notes from the Constitutional Convention,” the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, and speeches from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas.  

“It was reassuring to be associated with several likeminded individuals who, though we may come from different backgrounds, we had an interest in the Constitution and our country’s founding in common,” said Kyle Gilpin, a history teacher from Cleveland High. “I’m already looking forward to the next one.” 

The Founding Civics Institute was made possible by a grant from the Jack Miller Center, a nonprofit dedicated to reinvigorating education in America’s founding principles and history, which is vital to thoughtful and engaged citizenship.  These conversations will continue over the 2024-2025 academic year in programming sponsored by the Center for Responsible Citizenship. 

“The Summer Civics Institute at Lee was a refreshing conversation delving into the most vital question of being an American: How should we then live?” said Mead Vest, a local home educator. “Just as the Founding Fathers wrestled with the ideas of power and liberty, checks and balances, states’ rights and a strong central government, through engaging and thoughtful conversation, we too can grapple with what it means to be American, what it means to be human, and most importantly why and how should we strive to be virtuous in an ever-changing culture today.” 

This fall, the CRC plans to host a two-day symposium on American Identity. The event will be open to members of the broader community, in addition to students and faculty from Lee and other regional institutions. To support the CRC or learn more about its programming, please visit or email them at [email protected]



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