Discover dynamic education programs and curriculum resources about the history of our city, state, and nation.
The Academy for American Democracy is a new history and civics education initiative at the New-York Historical Society for sixth grade students and teachers. These videos illuminate key ideas, topics, and themes in the history of democracy, from its creation in ancient Athens to the founding of the United States and beyond. For more information or to register your class/student/child for this free program visit our website here!
Part 1: Athenian Geography
Geography is a major factor in the development of every civilization, including ancient Athens. Learn the ways in which the natural features of Athens helped it grow into a powerful city-state in the ancient Mediterranean.
Part 2: The Mediterranean World
Learn about the diversity of and geographic connections between people in the Mediterranean World. These dynamic connections sparked trade, the exchange of ideas, the rise of civilizations, and the development of democracy in ancient Athens.
Part 3: The Atlantic World
The Atlantic World was an interconnected system of trade in goods and ideas, which helped facilitate the establishment of democracy in the Americas. The result of this exchange across the Atlantic Ocean was a diverse population of Europeans from many kingdoms and classes, free and enslaved Africans, and indigenous people, all wrestling with the ideas of human rights and democracy.
Part 4: Slavery in a Democracy
The ideals of democracy include freedom, civic participation, and people having a voice. So how is it that both Athenian and American democracy practiced slavery? The institution of slavery challenged the ideals held by citizens in both democracies.
Part 5: Age of Revolutions
Beginning in the late 18th century, the Atlantic World erupted in revolutions that would continue through the 19th century. The American, French, and Haitian revolutions were intricately connected as each country fought for liberty, equality, and self-government.
Part 6: Designing the Constitution
Have you ever wondered where the founders of the United States got their ideas about government? As they fought the American Revolution and subsequently designed the Constitution, the founders borrowed ideas from ancient and modern-day civilizations. The ideals of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, Roman Republic, and Athenian Democracy all played a role in creating a uniquely American government.
Part 7: Civic Engagement
Every government needs organization. Learn all about the separation of powers in the democratic governments in ancient Athens and the U.S. and how “the people” both fit into and shape their governments.
Part 8: Public Spaces
Explore the fundamental role public spaces play in participatory democracy both in ancient Athens and the early United States. In ancient Athens, the agora (marketplace) and theater were important places for conversations while coffeehouses and commons facilitated the exchange of ideas among groups in the early U.S.
Part 9: Art as Activism
In a democracy, people have the power to make social change through something called activism. Some of the loudest and most effective activism comes from artists who create pieces that inspire people to think critically about the society they live in. Discover the role activist art plays in a democracy and how art can be a useful tool to spread ideas.