On Location in Atlanta and Charleston

Courting Liberty is based on the Georgia State University Campus with a 4 day field trip to Charleston, South Carolina.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Courting Liberty has been made possible through a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

July 8 - 23, 2018 ---- Apply today !

Join teachers from across the United States in the study of slavery through a lens of Constitutional History.
Constitutional History

Constitutional History

Participants will engage in a critical study of the Constitutional history of slavery
Apply Today!

Apply Today!

The Courting Liberty Institute will include dynamic seminar sessions and enlightening field trips. Apply between November 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018.
Slavery and Equality Under the Constitution

Slavery and Equality Under the Constitution

Participants will study how slavery and equality were addressed by the Founders.
The two-week institute curriculum integrates documentary evidence, secondary readings, place-based learning, and teacher-created projects. The institute will embrace two overarching themes, one for each week, to serve as the foci of the institute. In the first week, the focus will be on the concepts of equality and slavery during the “constitutional period,” from roughly 1776 through 1820, when much of the Constitution’s structure was established. In the second week, the focus will shift chronologically to the period after 1820 and will place emphasis on specific constitutional disputes such as fugitive slaves, abolitionists’ free speech, and the interstate slave trade. Core readings in constitutional history will both familiarize teachers with advanced content and give them strategies for reading and understanding statutes, court cases, and legal/political arguments. Field trips to museums, plantations, and to historically preserved landmarks will introduce teachers to the geography of the Slave Power, allowing for a better understanding of the setting in which proslavery constitutionalism flourished. Courting Liberty participants will analyze slavery as a constitutional and legal question born from social strife in the past in order to encourage classroom engagement with current conditions of national life. The resolution of past problems through legal and statutory means illuminates how civic participation today can address contemporary constitutional issues, especially with respect to race.
In addition to seminars and field trips, participants will engage in an immersive historical role-play. Entitled “Frederick Douglass, Slavery, and the Constitution, 1845,” this simulation is part of Reacting to the Past (RTTP), a peer-reviewed collegiate curriculum with a documented impact on student learning. Institute participants will assume the roles of historical characters such as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, William Lloyd Garrison, John C. Calhoun, and Frederick Douglass himself. In a series of debates, these historical characters will pit antislavery against proslavery arguments. In the process, we will rigorously examine how peoples of the past were able to read very different meanings into the same constitutional text. The result will not just be a richer appreciation of History, but also a better understanding of how constitutional arguments are made. Participants should be aware that they will be asked to assume roles and ideas that may not correlate with their contemporary political beliefs. This is part of the Institute’s pedagogy. The directors of Courting Liberty will facilitate in-depth debriefings with Institute participants on the challenging topics of abolitionist and proslavery arguments.
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