Friday, May 18, 2007

Project Citizen

A hands-on civic education program adapted by more than 65 countries that promotes competent and responsible participation in local government

Available from the Center for Civic Education

Project Citizen - now available in Levels I and II - is a curricular program used in more than 60 countries. It has been widely recognized as a model community service program that equips students with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills required for competent and responsible participation in the political life of their communities. It engages students in a series of structured, cooperative learning activities guided by teachers and adult volunteers.

Working in teams, students learn to interact with their government and community leaders through a five-step process that entails (1) identifying a public policy problem in their community, (2) gathering and evaluating information about the problem, (3) examining and evaluating alternative solutions, (4) selecting and developing a public policy proposal to address the problem, and (5) developing an action plan to bring their proposed solution to authorities with the power to implement it.

Project Citizen typically culminates with a simulated public hearing. Students’ work is displayed in a class portfolio containing a display section and documentation section. Students present their proposals to panels of representatives of their community, often including representatives of governmental agencies and civil society organizations. As many as 50% of Project Citizen classes worldwide implement their action plans and approximately 20% are implemented by governments. Some countries conduct national Project Citizen showcases.

An independent assessment of civic education programs funded by USAID from 1990 through 2000 found that “Project Citizen has many of the characteristics of the most effective civic education programs. It is highly participatory, it relates to issues that affect the participants in their daily lives, it produces tangible as well as intangible results, and it is firmly rooted in the community in which it takes place” (Brilliant, 2000; p. 38). The author also notes that the program provides students with a variety of research and communication skills that inform their participation, teach consensus-building and teamwork, and enhance their sense of efficacy as community members. In a report to the Department of State’s Senior Seminar, Sylvia Bazala, former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and currently a senior officer in the U.S. Department of State, indicated:

[T]he excellent cooperation between the Center for Civic Education and our embassies overseas is an important and successful relationship that furthers U.S. foreign policy goals of building democratic societies, particularly in countries that have had little or no experience with democratic values.

The State Department’s Interagency Working Group currently includes a case study of the Center’s programs in its annual report that highlights exemplary U.S. government-sponsored partnerships. 


Brilliant, Franca. (2000). “Civic Education Assessment—Stage II. Civic Education Programming

Since 1990—A Case Study Analysis.” A report for the U.S. Agency for International Development by Management Systems International.

Project Citizen is also available in Spanish.

    "...I not only found this to be an excellent, hands-on approach to public policy but also one of the most thorough, detailed, and easy-to-use programs I have ever seen."

    Hank Rowe, Teacher, Amphitheater Middle School, Tucson, Arizona