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Browder and Classroom Educators Initiate “Future Democracy Course of Study”

2 September 2004 — Getting young people to take responsibility for the future of American democracy is an ambitious assignment, but that's what former Congressman Glen Browder and some classroom educators hope to accomplish with a new initiative for high school and college students.

Browder, now Eminent Scholar in American Democracy at Jacksonville State University, and several Calhoun County School System teachers have put together a course of study—focusing on “The Future of American Democracy”—that challenges young citizens to think seriously about "what America means" and "how America ought to work" in the twenty-first century.

The team of educators has just completed a Study Guide for the ten-session course, which loosely parallels the logic of Browder's Eminent Scholar Public Lecture Series and book (The Future of American Democracy: A Former Congressman's Unconventional Analysis).   Two copies of the Study Guide (along with a textbook) are being distributed now without charge to all public and private high schools in Calhoun County; the guide also will be incorporated into Dr. Browder’s JSU seminars and guest lectures elsewhere.  Anyone interested in examining or downloading the free Study Guide electronically may do so by accessing the “News and Notes” section of Browder’s website at

The Future Democracy initiative is designed as a supplement to existing courses or as a special assignment for study groups and individual students.  The format consists of ten topical sessions with suggested content outline, main points and key concepts, open group discussion, individual journal assignments, and a recommended booklist.

According to Browder, “America is changing in important and unsettling ways, and we owe it to coming generations to talk boldly about the future of American democracy.”  The study program initially confronts young people with a dramatic, rhetorical question: "Is America dying?"  From this provocative introduction, the course proceeds to examine America’s civic and governmental health; it then proposes an "American democratic renaissance"; and it concludes by challenging the young citizens to become active partners in American democracy.

Thus far, response to the project among participating educators has been very positive.

Flexible Resource.  The teachers themselves seem delighted with the collaborative effort.  Stephanie Matthews of White Plains High School says “Dr. Browder’s Future Democracy Project is an incredible teacher resource that correlates with the Alabama course of study.  "I plan to also use this project for my enrichment students, because it lends itself to independent study."  Ms. Mathews worked on the study guide with fellow educators Jason Cox, White Plains High School; Veronia Hill, Pleasant Valley High School; and Carolyn Serviss, Saks High School.

Innovative Approach.  Gail Carpenter, Calhoun County secondary education curriculum specialist who oversaw the project, emphasizes the interesting approach of this initiative.   "Our teachers are continually searching for new, innovative ways to present course content. Dr. Glen Browder's Future Democracy Project promises to be just that.”

Civic Relevance.   Dr. Judy Stiefel, deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Calhoun County School System, strongly supports the project for its educational value to future citizens.  “The availability of a quality resource, such as that being developed by Dr. Browder and our team of Calhoun County American Government teachers, should help to better prepare our students to take part in ensuring that our system of democracy endures.”

Important Outreach.  According to JSU President Bill Meehan, "The Future Democracy Project has the potential to raise awareness among students who will become future leaders. This is an important outreach effort, and I applaud Dr. Browder’s work.”

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