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The Democracy Project

Mason’s Fun Fact! New Hampshire was the first colony to establish an independent government, six months before America's Continental Congress declared the 13 colonies' independence from Great Britain. New Hampshire’s new government was laid out in the first-ever written constitution.

The Democracy Project is a major initiative launched in 2017 by the New Hampshire Historical Society to address the precipitous decline in knowledge of history and civics among Granite State kids. For more than a decade, social studies has been an increasingly neglected subject. With recent national concerns for America’s civic health and widespread recognition that our kids are not receiving the history and civics education they require to participate in our democracy, the Society believes that this is the moment to embrace an ambitious effort to renew social studies education among our youth.
 
There is an emerging consensus among educators, legislators, parents, and members of the public that social studies education needs to be better and that now is the time to do it. With more than 50 years’ experience educating thousands of Granite State kids in social studies, the New Hampshire Historical Society is uniquely positioned to lead on this issue. Thus, the Democracy Project was born.
 
The Society’s approach in the Democracy Project is three-fold. First, in recognition of the lack of reliable resources for elementary-level social studies instruction, the Society developed this “Moose on the Loose” curriculum focused on New Hampshire and its regions and communities. The Society consulted dozens of organizations before embarking on this project, from statewide affinity groups to local school districts and teachers. In the spring of 2018, the Society conducted an educators' listening tour and later that year established a Master Teachers group, comprised of educators currently working in classrooms around the state, to advise on the development of the “Moose on the Loose” curriculum. More about the curriculum and its development can be found in the This Curriculum section of this website.
 
Second, the Society began organizing professional development opportunities to fill the desperate need for social studies training, particularly among elementary teachers, as it is no longer part of teacher preparation programs in New Hampshire. These opportunities cover state history, civics, economics, and geography; social studies methods; and the C3 Framework, which is the national social studies standard. New Hampshire has not fully implemented the C3 Framework, in part because of the lack of such training opportunities.
 
Third, the Society has increased its efforts to serve as a consistent and persuasive voice championing the need for high-quality social studies education throughout all grades in New Hampshire schools, particularly the elementary level. This advocacy work, conducted in collaboration with multiple partner organizations, has raised awareness of the social studies deficit in our schools and helped find a path forward to renew social studies education in the Granite State.

”The History/Civics Deficit in New Hampshire School Kids”

This op-ed by New Hampshire Historical Society President William Dunlap appeared in papers around the state in June 2017 and outlines the Society’s concerns with the marginalization of social studies in New Hampshire schools.

Democracy Project Advisory Board 

  • Jack Crisp, attorney, Crisp Law Firm
  • Bill Glahn, attorney, McLane Middleton Law Firm
  • Dorothea Jensen, author
  • Barbara A. Pitsch, educator
  • Tom Raffio, Northeast Delta Dental, former chairman of the New Hampshire Board of Education
  • Ann Remus, retired superintendent of Bedford School District
  • Paul Remus, retired attorney, Devine Millimet Law Firm
  • Henry Stebbins, attorney, Stebbins, Lazos & Van Der Beken
  • Michael Sununu, entrepreneur
  • William H. Dunlap, president, New Hampshire Historical Society
  • Elizabeth Dubrulle, director of education and public programs, New Hampshire Historical Society