Welcome to Participation in Government!

". . . whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right."
-Thomas Jefferson, On Education and Franchise



Thomas Jefferson believed that personal freedoms, as well as the vitality of a Democracy, hinge on a well-informed electorate. In 1776, Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense in which he chastised the English Government for their abuses of power and encouraged Revolution to the English Colonies. 500,000 copies of Common Sense were sold in the Colonies in 1776 and dispersed throughout the country (a country of 2.5 million people), spreading the latest and most potent arguments against continued English hegemony.
Today, 48.3 million people in America read newspapers daily (15% today of the population as opposed to 20% in 1776). Besides the general decline in readership, America is extremely politically polarized leading to increased bias in reporting and a decreased likelihood that people will read op-eds and news articles from sources that speak contrary to their own beliefs.
On the other hand, technology has created a revolution in the information dispersion landscape. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and other social media websites have given a voice to a wide range of people and has allowed for the quickest and most uncensored dispersion of information ever. Technology, however, has also given a voice to the less informed creating a range of opinions and “news” which has to be parceled through in search of the truth.
In our class we will strive to achieve Jefferson’s ambition of becoming “well-informed”. We will dedicate a considerable amount of time this year to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding so that we can make informed decisions and develop knowledgeable opinions about the world around us.

Unit 1 PowerPoints

Unit 2 PowerPoints

Unit 3 PowerPoints