Is Social Studies to Blame for Voter Apathy? | Connecticut Public Radio

Is Social Studies to Blame for Voter Apathy?

Nov 4, 2014

Credit Tom / Creative Commons

Ever since 1778 when Thomas Jefferson, revising the laws of Virginia, wrote something called a Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, there's been an ongoing debate about how to make sure people know what they need to know to participate fully as citizens of this democracy.

As is so often the case with Jefferson, his ideas and words seem visionary and eternal until you poke around in them a little bit and then it gets more complicated especially vis-a-vis who he thought was really fit to lead the American people.

But, now this debate is knocked into the cocked hat known as Social Studies, a curriculum branch that has come to encompass history and government. Presumably how we teach this has a big impact on the kind of citizens we send forth. So, unsurprisingly, there's a big argument about how to teach Social Studies. 

This Election Day we explore the link between Social Studies education and participation in American civic life.

What do you think? Comment below, email, or tweet @wnprcolin.


  • Barack Obama is the President of the United States
  • Walter Woodward is a professor of History at the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State Historian
  • John Tully is a professor of History and the Social Studies Coordinator at Central Connecticut State University, the President of the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies and the author of Ireland and Irish Americans 1932-1945: The Search for Identity
  • Chris Doyle is Director of Global Studies at Watkinson School
  • James Ward is a student at Watkinson School