According to Thomas Jefferson, the primary purposes of civic education in a republic are:
“To form the statesmen, legislators and judges, on whom public prosperity and individual happiness are so much to depend;
To expound the principles and structure of government, ... and a sound spirit of legislation, which ... shall leave us free to do whatever does not violate the equal rights of another; …
[T]o develop the reasoning faculties of our youth, enlarge their minds, cultivate their morals, and instill into them precepts of virtue and order ...”
--Thomas Jefferson, Report for the Commissioners for the University of Virginia, August 4, 1818
The Center offers non-credit classes for high school and college students, sponsors field trips, seminars and other activities in association with student groups and clubs.
“We're raising a generation of young Americans who are, by and large, historically illiterate. It's a very sad situation, and there are several reasons for it. One of them is --how we're teaching our teachers...
[W]onderful history [and civics] teachers…can change your life. And they [open] the door… We have wonderful teachers in this country. I think that teach--I think our teachers are the most important citizens we have. I think they're doing the most important work anybody does.” – David McCullough, Interview with Tim Russert, CNBC, 2005.
The Center is affiliated with the Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute (WJMI), Charlottesville, Virginia. WJMI has been teaching public and private school teachers of U.S. Government and U.S. History for the past twelve years through continuing education seminars, workshops, and roundtables at Prospect Hill since 2007 and with the Center for American Studies at Christopher Newport University (2014).
“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome direction, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
--Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William C. Jarvis, 1820.
The Executive Director of the Center has taught classes on the Constitution and the Lives & Writings of the Founding Fathers to civic groups and citizens since 1996. Such classes have included Rotary Clubs, DAR, SAR, the United Women's Forum, and the League of Women Voters, among others. The Center offers such classes on a regular basis to citizens, civic groups, students, teachers and home-schoolers, etc. in Buena Vista, Rockbridge county, and in the surrounding area of central Virginia.
In a Republic, civic education is the sine qua non, or indispensable ingredient to perpetuating our Constitutional form of government, the fruits of which are ordered liberty and felicity. Yet, it goes without saying that civic education is on the decline in America. Numerous studies and articles have focused on this deterioration in basic knowledge of the history and roots of our nation’s founding and source documents among students and citizens alike. Most would agree that if we are to remain as a free society and continue to govern ourselves as an enlightened and responsible citizenry, we must devote greater resources and efforts to educating the rising generation. There are many opportunities to become involved in this cause, extending from our own communities and local schools to higher education. Nowhere is this need more evident than at the college and university level, where in many circles American founding principles are often ignored, discarded, and even disdained in the curriculum and in public discourse. And, in places where there does exist a certain level of such education and acceptance in traditional American Heritage courses, frequently the offerings are limited and lack depth and substance in the areas of natural law principles (such as the writings of Locke & Sidney), the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and Washington’s Farewell Address, along with principles of the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Center is devoted to all three forms of Civic Education in America: citizen education, student education, and teacher education. Read more at "About GWCCS."