Project Co-PI’s, Molly Andolina and Hilary Conklin, bring complementary sets of expertise to this civic education case study. Dr. Conklin brings expertise in the field of secondary social studies curriculum. She has published extensively on educational instruction and pedagogy for social studies teachers, particularly in the field of civic education. Dr. Andolina's expertise lies in the field of political science, with a focus on civic behavior. Her training in survey research and her experience developing and testing measures of youth political engagement provide quantitative expertise to the project.

“This is an interdisciplinary field, and so it is only natural that we would approach our study from two separate, but related disciplinary frameworks."  -  Dr. Andolina


In this research funded by the Spencer Foundation, we examine the possibilities for education that cultivates both civic learning and essential literacy skills among young people who have typically been least likely to have opportunities to participate in such learning. In particular, we are studying a civic education program targeted at underserved high school students that is designed to foster key civic outcomes along with Common Core speaking and listening skills: Mikva Challenge’s Project Soapbox.

Through this research, we seek to address the following research questions:

  • What do secondary students learn from a participatory civic education program?
    • What democratic skills, knowledge and attitudes do students develop through their engagement in a participatory civic education program?
    • What kinds of literacy skills do students develop through their engagement in a participatory civic education program?
  • What factors shape students’ learning in a participatory civic education program?
  • Does involvement in a participatory civic education program narrow the gaps in civic engagement and literacy skills between advantaged and disadvantaged youth?

By examining the impact of this program (Project Soapbox), we aim to gain insights into best practices of civic and literacy education that can inform future educational programming.​​