Discover dynamic education programs and curriculum resources about the history of our city, state, and nation.
The Academy for American Democracy
at the New-York Historical Society
The Academy for American Democracy (AAD) is the newest educational initiative at the New-York Historical Society focusing on history and civics education for 5th to 9th graders. Students learn how the concept of democracy, crafted by ancient Athenians, inspired the American founders, and trace the evolution of American democracy from the Constitution to the present day.
AAD residencies take place online, in-person, or as a hybrid model. Our Educators can also come to your classrooms!
- Online Residencies - 10 one-hour synchronous lessons taught on Zoom or Google Meet.
- In-Person Residencies - lessons in our museum galleries and classrooms over 4 days, from 9:00am-2:00pm.
- Outreach Residencies - our Educators come to your classroom to teach AAD lessons.
- Hybrid Residencies - any combination of Online, In-Person and Outreach lessons.
What do students learn and how do they benefit from the AAD?
Through experiential learning, art-making, writing, and theater activities, your students are immersed in a process of creative discovery to consider how and why democracy has changed over time and the value of active civic participation. Students explore our galleries, in person or virtually, and engage in close examination of artifacts, art, and documents to critically examine democracy as it was practiced in ancient Athens, adapted at the United States’ founding, and as generations of people have reshaped it in the centuries since.
Students participating in the Academy for American Democracy seek the answers to three Essential Questions:
- What is a democracy?
- How does a democracy work?
- How do disenfranchised people make change in a democracy?
Students are empowered to ask big questions, think critically, and explore their own roles as civic actors. At the end of the residency, participating students create a final project - either a museum exhibition, zine, poem, song or podcast - that creatively synthesizes what they have learned.
How do teachers benefit?
Teachers participate in the AAD’s free professional development where they come together with scholars and museum professionals to dive deeply into history, political theory, and engaging pedagogy. They study how the ideals and realities of democracy played out in ancient Athens, at the founding of the United States, and in American political and social movements across time. They are challenged to craft effective lessons that bolster their social studies curricula. CTLE hours are provided.
What do participants need to contribute?
Thanks to generous support, we are able to provide this $5,500 program free of charge. Participants are responsible for the following:
- At least one certified teacher must be available to help manage the online experience and digital resources, and must be available for a planning session prior to the first class.
- Students need access to Zoom or Google Meet.
- Participating teachers and students must complete all surveys and evaluations within two weeks of the last day of the Academy.
How can my school participate?
Fill out an application here! Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. First come, first served!
My child does not attend a traditional school and/or would like to participate as an extra-curricular. How can they be involved?
We create cohorts of students with similar scheduling and learning needs. These residencies are online only, unless students are part of a homeschool learning group. Fill out an application here! Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. First come, first served!
The Academy for American Democracy supports the New York City Curriculum Standards and Initiatives.
Sixth Grade Social Studies Scope and Sequence:
Civics for All:
“I learned how important voting is. We have to speak up for ourselves and have our own opinions. We have to think long and hard about them.” — Student, New Design Middle School
“In a democracy, the choice you make can affect how you and others live. When you have the option to make a choice, you can’t take it for granted.” — Student, Wagner Middle School
“When we got to debate it made the topics feel important, and we learned how to persuade.” — Student, Urban Assembly Academy for Future Leaders
“It was the best week, the best time we spent all school year. I left the experience feeling like I was a part of something big. The students did something really significant for the four days. They are dying to do it again.” — Teacher, Wagner Middle School