Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Terms of Use

© 2021 Skylar Thoma. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. For all other uses, please contact the copyright holder.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, Political Science Department

First Advisor

Edwin Mayorga

Second Advisor

Sean Diament


Civic education has always been a battleground in American political debates, yet it is more necessary than ever given intense political polarization and waning participation among youth. After providing a brief synopsis of the history of civic education, this thesis considers four pedagogical frameworks available to educators as they attempt to address these challenges: civic knowledge, skills, values, and motivation. In order to address low political participation among youth, a traditional emphasis on civic knowledge is insufficient for motivating students; rather, educators should directly cultivate students' political efficacy through experiential learning programs. Meanwhile, a reliance on a common values system faces significant practical and normative challenges. Educators must therefore cultivate students' critical thinking and deliberation skills in an open classroom environment. For both experiential learning programs and open classroom environments, educators must ensure students' agency in order to protect against hegemonic narratives and structures. While this thesis only provides a cursory examination of the logistics involved in civic education courses , these recommendations should prove helpful as educators and policymakers design lesson plans for the next generation of American citizens.