Washington, D.C.-based Public Agenda and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia have announced a major research and education project aimed at improving the public's understanding of the Constitution. The project, which is being funded with a $465,000 grant from the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will enhance the Center's efforts to foster civic participation by Americans of all ages.
Public Agenda will conduct a public opinion poll to document Americans' current attitudes and knowledge about the Constitution; analyze current perceptions, misperceptions, and possible obstacles to civic participation; and identify educational initiatives to enhance citizenship in the U.S. The Center, the first-ever museum dedicated to honoring and explaining the Constitution and its relevance to daily life, was established by Congress and is scheduled to open on July 4, 2003. The project's findings will be disseminated to policymakers, the media, educators, students, and community groups throughout the country, as well as to visitors to the Center's museum.
"Surveys have repeatedly shown Americans' knowledge of various constitutional guarantees falls short, but citizens well understand and cherish the fundamental values it upholds," said Public Agenda president Deborah Wadsworth. "Public Agenda's partnership with the National Constitution Center is a real opportunity to create materials and activities to enrich the public's — particularly students' — understanding of this cornerstone of our democracy."