Dear Reader,

Welcome to the Collaborative Curriculum: Bill of Rights JMC’s new online resource for teachers! This e-book was developed with the goal of extracting some of the value of the Harvey L. Miller Founding Civics Initiative (“HLM Founding Civics”) and making it available to educators nationwide. HLM Founding Civics was a three-year pilot project conducted by JMC to leverage our network of scholars and institutional partnerships for the benefit of high school civic educators in the Chicago area. The Initiative featured an array of professional development programming for teachers from one-day seminars on particular texts or topics, to weeklong summer institutes, to for-credit graduate courses through Lake Forest College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The central concept for this e-book was developed by Professor John Zumbrunnen, a political theorist from UW-Madison, over the course of a yearlong program for teachers called the American Democracy Educator’s Forum (ADEF). From 2016-2019 the ADEF focused on three central themes in the U.S. Constitution–individual rights, separation of powers, and federalism. This e-book focuses on the Bill of Rights. Future books will take address separation of powers and federalism.

But this book is not merely a reflection of ADEF. Rather, it includes contributions from a host of scholars who participated in HLM Founding Civics programs including:

  • Maura Jane Farrelly, Associate Professor and Chair of American Studies, Brandeis University
  • Peter Myers, Professor of  Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  • Svetozar Minkov, Professor of Philosophy, Roosevelt University
  • Andrew Trees, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, Roosevelt University

Drawing upon seminar discussions with high school educators, these scholars have sought to make certain texts–many of which were featured in the seminar discussions themselves–as accessible as possible for teachers both to deepen your own understanding of the Bill of Rights, and to introduce these texts or portions of these texts to your students.

The value of this resource for educators is two-fold:

  1. The selection of key texts that elucidate the historical and/or philosophical foundations for ideas of rights in general and the Bill of Rights in particular.
  2. Annotations from the contributing scholars in the form of brief introductions, brief explainers or discussion prompts interjected into the text, and in some cases footnotes and exercise suggestions.

We have gathered feedback and commentary on these annotated texts from some teachers who participated in various HLM Founding Civics programs. Select comments and suggestions will be added in coming months. If you would like to share your thoughts on these texts or this e-book in general, please contact me at

The particular value of a tool like this is that it can continue to evolve with the participation of more teachers and professors over time. In this sense it is truly collaborative and represents the best of Founding Civics programming–professors and teachers coming together to explore important texts in the American political tradition and deciding together, with different but complementary expertise, how to bring young Americans into that tradition.

Warm regards,

Tom Kelly

Director of Civic Education Outreach

Jack Miller Center





Collaborative Curriculum: Bill of Rights Copyright © by Jack Miller Center. All Rights Reserved.

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