Over the past few weeks, the History Department, in partnership with C&E, has worked to create more spaces for students to learn about the workings of the American government and to ask questions about current events. At a curricular level, history courses across the department have been devoting a long block class to looking at the origins, design, and evolution of the Constitution. This has included not only some core discussion of the branches of government, the system of checks and balances, and the role of amendments, but also some forays into lesser known points that have been making headlines, such as the “full faith and credit clause” and the “emoluments clause.” The goal, the history faculty note, is not to cover everything, but to help students gain increasing comfort with the structure of the Constitution such that they know where to look when they wonder “Is that Constitutional?” Students have expressed appreciation for the chance to pause and devote time to their questions, while teachers have been struck by the impressive connections students have been making between these civics conversations and their ongoing coursework, whether the course focuses on Classical Greece and the Roman Republic, Islam in Asia, or Crime and Punishment in America. In addition, history faculty have hosted two open “Ripped from the Headlines” discussion sessions, inviting the community to share questions, thoughts, and feelings around events unfolding in the news. Some attended simply to hear what others were experiencing, while others came with specific questions or topics ranging from the President’s relationship to the media, to historical precedents around immigration or Native American treaty rights. Moving into the spring, C&E plans to continue the initiative, working with other departments to make ongoing space in the curriculum for conversations and connections around the current climate.

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