Civics 101 Revisits Fundamentals of American Democracy
Students, teachers, and anyone interested in the fundamentals of American democracy can spend their summer Sundays getting a primer on key principles of our republic. Starting July 5, NHPR will air a series of broadcast episodes from the popular Civics 101 podcast each Sunday at 2 p.m.
Civics 101 serves as a refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works. The eight hour-long episodes will explore concepts relating to the following topics:
- Founding Documents – a deep dive into the core historical documents our nation was built on, including documents and ideals that still resonate today. Hosts Nick Capodice and Hannah McCarthy examine how these important documents were integral to our nation’s foundational philosophy and democratic ideals. In each episode, historians, political reporters, former office holders and civics teachers shed light on each document and offer context.
- Starter Kit – exploring how the U.S. government works and how it’s structured, with helpful insights into each branch of government and explainers on how bills become laws and the principles of federalism.
- Running for President – Presidential elections occur every four years, and 2020 is a presidential campaign year. But how does a candidate actually run for president? How do they launch campaigns, and get the privilege of actually running? The episodes will delve deeper into the election process.
“In an election year and a year that’s found us in the midst of a global pandemic and protests over racial injustice, understanding how we fit into the governing structure, our rights and responsibilities and how to enact change all start with a well-informed citizenry,” said Erika Janik, Executive Producer of Civics 101. “Civics 101 fills that gap and empowers people to see their role in public life.
Fittingly, the series kicks off during the Independence Day holiday weekend with a look at documents that helped form and shape the bedrock principles of U.S. democracy: the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. The broadcast lineup continues through July and August:
Sunday, July 5 – Magna Carta/The Declaration of Independence.
Magna Carta - It may not seem like a document from 1215 could have anything to do with U.S. history at first blush, but Magna Carta offered plenty of inspiration for America’s founding fathers.
Declaration of Independence - The very document that gave birth to our Fourth of July celebrations is looked at with fresh eyes, examining precisely what the document contains, why it was created and getting to the heart of what it stands for.
Sunday, July 12 – Articles of Confederation/The Constitution
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation served as a ‘follow-up’ to the Declaration of Independence, establishing the functions of our new government after separation from British rule. The Articles got our country up and running but its failures provided the map to the U.S. Constitution that replaced it.
The U.S. Constitution
This document is the supreme law of the United States and is arguably the source of our nation’s power. Nick and Hannah walk through how the Constitution was created and its significance throughout the ages.
Sunday, July 19 – Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers/the Bill of Rights
This episode delves into the eighty-five letters that came to be known as the Federalist Papers, who wrote them and why, and the role these documents played in the ratification of the Constitution.
Bill of Rights
Also known as the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights outlines citizens’ and states’ rights in relation to the federal government. Nick and Hannah break down the story behind the amendments’ creation.
Sunday, July 26 – Check and Balances, the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch
Checks and Balances
The U.S. government is uniquely designed to ward off power grabs and keep itself in check. How is that accomplished? Learn how the democratic processes of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government play distinct roles in preserving democratic rule.
The Executive Branch carries out and enforces laws—with each part serving a unique purpose.
As the name suggests, this branch of government is responsible for drafting laws. It’s made up of the House and the Senate but how are those houses structured? And what’s a typical day like?
Sunday, August 2 – The Judicial Branch, Federalism, How a Bill (Really) Becomes A Law
Responsible for interpreting the laws, the Judicial Branch includes the highest court in the land: the Supreme Court. How do cases end up before the Supreme Court and what powers does the court have?
A deeper look at the division of power in the U.S. between the federal government and the states. Some powers are reserved for the states while others are the domain of the national government. But how are these powers delineated between federal and state governments?
How a Bill Becomes a Law
Every law begins as a proposal, but it’s a long road to travel from bill to law. What are the steps involved and what hurdles must a bill overcome?
HOW TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT:
Sunday, August 9 – How to Run for President (Series) – Part 1
Sunday, August 16 – How to Run for President (Series) – Part 2
Sunday, August 23 - How to Run for President (Series) – Part 3
Educators can continue to look to Civics 101 as a valuable educational aid in remote teaching and in-classroom learning. Beginning August 26, through Election Day in November, NHPR is also planning to launch an “Ask Civics101” segment each Wednesday during Morning Edition on NHPR (weekdays 5 a.m.-9 a.m.). Hosts Nick Capodice and Hannah McCarthy will answer listeners’ questions about civics during the on-air conversations.
Listen to Civics 101 wherever you subscribe to podcasts, or find every episode online at civics101podcast.org. Follow Civics 101 on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook: @civics101pod.
Civics 101 is made possible in part with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: The Civics 101 summer specials will air Sundays at 2 p.m., replacing Hidden Brain in the broadcast lineup. Hidden Brain will move to the Best of Public Radio spot Saturdays at 10 p.m., replacing the NPR Coronavirus Weekly Report; NPR is ending production of the weekly report.
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