Civic competency includes not only civic knowledge, but also civic skills and dispositions.

Civic Content Knowledge

Civic content includes both core knowledge and the ability to apply knowledge to different circumstances and settings.

  • Key historical periods, episodes, cases, themes, and experiences of individuals and groups in U.S. history
  • Principles, documents, and ideas essential to constitutional democracy
  • Relationship between historical documents, principles, and episodes and contemporary issues
  • Structures, processes, and functions of government; powers of branches and levels of government
  • Political vehicles for representing public opinion and effecting political change
  • Mechanisms and structure of the U.S. legal system
  • Relationship between government and other sectors
  • Political and civic heroes
  • Social and political networks for making change
  • Social movements and struggles, particularly those that address issues as yet unresolved
  • Structural analyses of social problems and systemic solutions to making change

Civic Skills: Intellectual

Intellectual civic skills encompass knowing how to identify, assess, interpret, describe, analyze, and explain matters of concern in civic life.

  • Critical thinking
  • Perspective-taking
  • Understanding, interpreting, and critiquing various media
  • Understanding, interpreting, and critiquing different points of view
  • Expressing one’s opinions
  • Active listening
  • Identifying public problems
  • Drawing connections between democratic concepts and principles and one’s own life experience 

Civic Skills: Participatory

Civic participatory skills encompass knowing how to cope in groups and organizational settings, interface with elected officials and community representatives, communicate perspectives and arguments, and plan strategically for civic change.

  • Engaging in dialogue with those who hold different perspectives
  • Active listening
  • Communicating through public speaking, letter writing, petitioning, canvassing, lobbying, protesting
  • Managing, organizing, participating in groups
  • Building consensus and forging coalitions
  • Community mapping
  • Utilizing electoral processes
  • Utilizing non-electoral means to voice opinion (protest, petitioning, surveying, letter writing, boycotting, and so on) 
  • Planning and running meetings
  • Utilizing strategic networks for public ends
  • Organizing and demonstrating

Civic Dispositions

Civic dispositions encompass interpersonal and intrapersonal values, virtues, and behaviors.

  • Tolerance and respect
  • Appreciation of difference
  • Rejection of violence
  • Concern with the rights and welfare of others
  • Commitment to balancing personal liberties with social responsibility to others
  • Personal efficacy
  • Sense of belonging to a group or polity
  • Readiness to compromise personal interests to achieve shared ends
  • Desire for community involvement
  • Attentiveness (to civic matters, the news, etc.)

Website made possible by generous funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools is a Project of the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics of the Annenberg Public Policy Center University of Pennsylvania.