|UMass Donahue Institute|
The Civic Initiative is dedicated to Civic Education at Home and Abroad
Constitutional Democracy is a Massachusetts tradition. One of the authors of the Massachusetts constitution, John Adams once observed, "…The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and the hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution."
The radical change observed by Adams was the movement of a people from thinking of themselves as subjects to understanding themselves as citizens. Adams’ observation also highlights the importance of sentiment and liberal institutions in the construction and maintenance of a just government.
Now, over 200 years into our experiment with Constitutional Democracy, we are faced with new responsibilities and challenges. Americans are confronting and redefining their roles and responsibilities as citizens. Americans are asked to support world wide democratic development, while, at the same time, our own rates of participation and trust decline.
The Civic Initiative will develop an informed, active, and free citizenry through diverse program and grant offerings that combine international and local perspectives on Democracy and Free Institutions. The Civic Initiative will operate on three guiding principles
In an increasingly interconnected world we can neither ignore what is going on overseas or next door – and we must explore how one does — and can — influence the other.
We are the Civic Initiative and not the Democracy Initiative because the success or failure of a democratic regime hinges on free institutions and popular mores.
It is part of the core mission of a public university to advocate for civic education and the presentation of diverse views in an academic setting.
The Civic Initiative was launched in 2003 by Michael Hannahan, the current Director. Having spent years teaching and working in politics and government he wanted to create an organization to promote civic education and foster research on democracy. His ideas found a home at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute.
The Civic Initiative won its first grant in 2003; a U.S. Department of Education award through the Teaching American History program. The Constitutional History Renewal Project, as the program was called, brought to area K-12 teachers content knowledge, speakers, and curriculum resources about constitutional issues in American history.
The Civic Initiative currently oversees 8-10 grant-funded programs worth over $1.5 million dollars annually. These range from a new Teaching American History award, People In Motion, to the Study of the U.S. Institute on American Politics and Political Thought, which brings international professors to the United States each summer to learn from American professors and experts in American political development.Board of Advisors
Lawrence Becker, Ph.D.
Stephen P. Crosby
John Della Volpe
Jerold Duquette, Ph.D.
Michael Goodman, Ph.D.
Paul Herrnson, Ph.D.
Douglas Lathrop, Ph.D.
Dwight H. Merriam
Jerome Mileur, Ph.D.
Diane Palmer, Ph.D.
W. Greg Rothman
Eric Thompson, Ph.D.
Ralph Whitehead, Jr.
Ex Officio Members
J. Lynn Griesemer, Ed.D.