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The Political Classroom: Teaching Controversial Issues in an Era of Political Polarization

December 13th at 8:30am-3:30pm

Education faculty from the University of New Hampshire and Saint Anselm College will welcome education researchers and authors Diana E. Hess and Paula McAvoy to the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Drs. Hess and McAvoy will deliver a keynote address on their new book, “The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education.” The keynote will address the challenge of teaching controversial issues within an era of political polarization and present findings from a longitudinal study about what students experience and learn in classes that engage them in discussions of controversial political issues.

The keynote will be followed by workshops for area teachers, which will: (1) engage teachers in discussions of the ethical dilemmas that arise when teachers bring political issues into the classroom (2) provide guidance about how to make good professional judgments about these dilemmas and (3) help teachers to enhance their facilitation strategies of controversial discussions.

Diana Hess is the Senior Vice President of the Spencer Foundation and a professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hess earned a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle. Since 1997, she has been researching how teachers engage their students in discussions of highly controversial political and constitutional issues, and what impact this approach to civic education has on what young people learn.  Her first book on this topic, Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion won the National Council for the Social Studies Exemplary Research Award in 2009.

Paula McAvoy is an Associate Program Officer at the Spencer Foundation. She earned her doctorate in philosophy of education from the department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her publications include work in democratic education, cultural and religious accommodation, and the ethics of teaching about politics. These interests were largely formed by her experiences teaching high school social studies in California for ten years.

Book sale and signing to follow.  This event is free. The keynote address is open to the public. Those planning to stay for late morning and afternoon workshops are required to register. Lunch will be provided to registrants.  Click here for registration and more information.

NHIOP's Multimedia

Take a look at NHIOP's Multimedia

The NHIOP YouTube Series

The NHIOP hosts many politicians, pundits, journalists, and scholars throughout the academic year.  Many of these lectures and presentations are uploaded to YouTube for the public to view.  View NHIOP YouTube site.  Some of the featured videos are of the 2012 Presidential Primary.  Here is a recent video from the NHIOP, "Climate and the Economy."


Saint Anselm College's Photostream

The NHIOP hosts a large gallery of political photos on the NHIOP Flicker site. 



Audio Podcasts

Listen to various podcasts from past NHIOP events.Podcasts can be played on your computer, iPod, or other mp3 device. View a listing of the various Podcasts available.
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Learn all about NHIOP and the role St. Anselms plays in the election process.

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NHIOP's Political Library

The NHIOP's Political Library is nonpartisan and works to increase civic engagement in the democratic process by promoting and preserving New Hampshire's unique political traditions and ensuring these traditions are passed on to future generations.

New Hampshire Primary at NHIOP
Kennedy at St. Anselm

January 16, 1960

The New Hampshire Presidential
Primary and Saint Anselm College

Every four years, New Hampshire serves as a magnet to politicians and the media as the nation’s first presidential primary unfolds. The New Hampshire Institute of Politics and the college are center stage, hosting presidential hopefuls and providing a backdrop for American democracy in action.  Hundreds of Oval Office aspirants have delivered speeches, met with students, and participated in debates on campus. Learn more about the history of the New Hampshire Primary at the NHIOP.