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Civics Program for Teachers

A series of graduate courses designed to help teachers respond to the new Illinois civics requirement for high school students, offered through the Master of Liberal Studies Program of Lake Forest College. 

Civics and the American Founding program brings together small groups of high school teachers in special graduate seminars, led by members of the faculty of Lake Forest College’s Master of Liberal Studies program. These seminars focus on key issues and documents of political thought that have shaped our nation’s history. Full tuition grants for teachers are provided by the Jack Miller Center through their Founding Civics Initiative.

Announcing the Return of MLS 583 for Spring 2020

MLS 583 Hamilton and the Founding Fathers
Professor Catherine Weidner
Dates: Jan. 25 - May 2, 2020

The reputation of Alexander Hamilton has vacillated wildly over the years.  Detractors have called him an elitist, an opponent of democracy, or a crypto-monarchist, while his admirers view him as a realist who believed that the new Republic needed a strong central government in order to build a strong economy.  Because he played a pivotal role in both the American Revolution and the formation of the Constitution, his story becomes a lens to study many of the defining moments of the founding of the United States. His life takes us into the great debates of the early republic over the scope and nature of government power and its role in shaping American society. This course will draw on the musical “Hamilton” as well as recent scholarship and key primary source readings to reassess Hamilton’s influence upon the key events of his lifetime and his legacy.  The goals of the courses are:  1) to understand the key personalities, debates, and decisions of the Revolution and the Early National Period and 2) to model and practice the most effective teaching strategies for use in your own civics and history classrooms.  

2020 Final Syllabus

Catherine Sardo Weidner is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and earned her Ph.D. in American History at Northwestern University.  In addition to teaching for Lake Forest College, Weidner writes and lectures widely on issues of race, class, community and labor in Chicago.  She co-founded and teaches with the Sojourner Scholars Summer Humanities Institute, a program of Illinois Humanities Council that provides high school students from four South Side CPS high schools the opportunity to take college level courses with local university and college faculty over a period of three summers. Weidner recently served as President of the Board of Directors for Alternatives, Inc., a Chicago-based nonprofit that supports and empowers young people.

Key Information

The course carries 4 semester hours of graduate credit or 60 PD hours.
Full tuition grants for working high school teachers thanks to the support of the Jack Miller Center.

  • Classes are on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to noon, on the campus of Lake Forest College.

  • 7 face-to-face meetings, the remainder of the course on-line.

  • Teachers may take this course for a stand-alone credit or matriculate into the MLS program.

  • Ideal for American history, government, or civics teachers, given the new Illinois civics requirement. 

  • Click here for application form.


Full tuition grants for teachers are provided by the Jack Miller Center through their Founding Civics Initiative.