What Is Civic Learning Week and Why Does it Matter?

Civics studies show a concerning deficiency in Americans' knowledge of their rights covered by the US Constitution, among other important facts. Civic Learning Week aims to fix that!

Only 22 percent of eighth graders scored at or above NAEP Proficient on a civics assessment, and that needs to change.

Civic Learning Week takes place in March each year, but for many, the nature of this event is somewhat unknown. Though the event does not have a long and storied history, its impact since its founding has been quite significant and has served to inform the nation’s citizens and act as a force for positive change.

If this is your first time hearing of it, you probably have plenty of questions. What exactly is Civic Learning Week? What are its goals, and why do those goals matter? Most importantly, why should you consider attending?

History of Civic Learning Week

Civic Learning Week was first held in mid-March of 2022, albeit on a much smaller scale than today. Despite that smaller scale, though, it was an undeniably successful initiative, with forty events across three states drawing over 22,000 participants, according to iCivics.

Emboldened by this success, iCivics hosted Civic Learning Week again in March of 2023 but took a much more ambitious approach. Rather than limiting the event to just a few states, Civic Learning Week 2023 was hosted on a national scale for the first time. Again, the event was a resounding success, with speakers from all backgrounds presenting to nationwide audiences. 

Of course, holding a national Civic Learning Week again in 2024 was a foregone conclusion, and the tradition will likely continue beyond even then.


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The Goals and Importance of Civic Learning Week

The goal of Civic Learning Week is exactly as its name suggests: a time when people from all backgrounds and walks of life across the nation can come together and learn what it means to be an American and how they can play their part in upholding and protecting our democracy. 

The event is comprised of a series of smaller events, usually seminars hosted by people with a unique perspective on a citizen’s civic duty. Past speakers include a number of high-profile guests like American diplomat Richard Haass and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor.

Topics discussed range anywhere from voter registration for young audiences to media literacy in the age of online misinformation. Ultimately, the intent behind these discussions is not just to provide important information but to equip students, educators, and anyone willing to listen with the tools they need to better understand their civic responsibilities and fulfill those responsibilities.


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How Libraries Support Civic Learning and Democracy

The centers of free information that they are, libraries nationwide play a vital role in the success of Civic Learning Week, but their work extends to the rest of the year as well. As gathering places for their respective communities, libraries give Americans a place to gather and discuss their thoughts and beliefs, learn new information that shapes their views, and ultimately become better-informed citizens. In addition, many libraries serve as polling places during voting season, allowing citizens to exercise their right to vote in an easy and accessible way.

Through these year-round efforts, libraries have long since become a massive pillar supporting American democracy and promoting participation in the democratic process. By providing citizens with free information and giving them a place to vote, libraries have helped create a generation of thinkers who can become intelligent, informed voters and, ultimately, better Americans.

If you want to promote civic education at your library beyond Civic Learning Week, you can join a new cohort of libraries supporting civic education by completing this form indicating your interest. EveryLibrary would love to have you be a part of this new group. This form aims to see how you can further connect your work to preparing young people to be engaged members of our constitutional democracy with a broader network of libraries with the same goal.



Visit www.everylibrary.org to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries. 

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This work by EveryLibrary is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0