Democracy in Danger

Saving the rule of the people — one episode at a time.

Democracy in Danger Open Source Curriculum

Democracy in Danger: High School Curriculum Project

In summer 2020, Siva Vaidhyanathan and Will Hitchcock, faculty members from the Deliberative Media Lab at the UVA Democracy Initiative, launched a podcast titled Democracy in Danger. The show featured interviews with scholars and journalists about the challenges facing democracy both at home and abroad with the aim that the shows would be helpful course resources for their fellow colleagues teaching online. We have created 5 open source inquiry design lesson plans for high school students based on the concept of “Democracy in Danger” and using podcast excerpts to support the learning - in addition to many other resources. To access these lesson plans, please click on the links below: 

The inquiry design lesson plans were created by two experienced ACPS educators. John Hobson is the Social Studies Facilitator for ACPS and program leader of the “Reframing the Narrative” anti-racism project. Chris Bunin teaches AP Human Geography, World History and Geospatial Technologies at Albemarle High School. 

Each of the 5 inquiry design units are broken into 3-4 supporting lessons based on specific questions about the topic. Each question has a formative performance task asking students to assess, analyze, or address solutions to problems and has a series of featured sources. At the end of all 4 units there’s an overall summative performance task, and a “taking informed action” task that asks students to assess strategies and choose an action to address the original problem.  

They are designed to be used as teachers would like – each inquiry is expected to take three or four 50-minute class periods. The inquiry time frame could expand if teachers think their students need additional instructional experiences (e.g., supporting questions, formative performance tasks, featured sources, writing). Teachers are encouraged to adapt the inquiry to meet the needs and interests of their students. This inquiry lends itself to differentiation and modeling of historical thinking skills while assisting students in reading the variety of sources. 

They are matched against specific Virginia SOLs in ‘learning for social justice’ in the high school curriculum.