Historic Decisions Issue Guides - Read a Piece by Joni Doherty

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  • Historic Decisions Issue Guides

Joni Doherty, a Kettering Foundation program officer, recently wrote an article about the framing and use of a series of Historic Decisions issue guides that have been produced by museums around the country. The article, titled Historic Decisions: Looking Deliberatively at the Past, was posted on the Kettering Foundation website blog on June 21, 2022.

The following is excerpted from the article:

Historic Decisions is a problem-based approach to civic education designed to support the development of skills needed for active participation in democratic life. In 2014 the Kettering Foundation began experimenting with developing materials to support deliberations about historical problems. During a Historic Decisions forum, participants deliberate about the options that were available during the historical period when the problem emerged, which generates a deeper understanding of the historical issue. In addition to developing deliberative skills, participants discover that decisions about public problems are made not only by leaders, but also by everday people. Looking at history through this perspective expands participants' sense of who can be a political actor and where political actions can occur. Politics, understood this way, is not only about what governments do, but also about how everyday people can work together to address the challenges of living well together in a democracy.

...over the last seven years musuems across the country have been creating guides for deliberation about historic issues. The guides do not offer a counterfactual or hypothetical history. The information presented is historically accurate, including actions that were being considered at the time. While these forums can be part of a museum's public program, and some have been used in college courses, this article focuses on the experiences of students in grades 4-12.

Click here to read the full article.

More about the Historic Decisions Guides:

Click here to see the 16 downloadable Historic Decisions Issue Guides on the National Issues Forums Institute website.

Click here to watch a recording of a webinar ("Creating and Using Historic Decisions Issue Guides") that was held June 14, 2022