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The Center on Congress at Indiana University

The Center on Congress at Indiana University was established in January 1999. It developed out of Lee Hamilton's recognition during his 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives of the need to improve broad public understanding of Congress.

Image from the Center on Congress at Indiana University.

Image from the Center on Congress at Indiana University.

The central mission of the Center on Congress is to help improve the public's understanding of Congress and to improve civic engagement, especially among young people, as a way to strengthen the basic institutions of government. The Center is non-partisan and its goal is purely educational—to explain the work and role of Congress. The Center provides nonpartisan educational information that helps citizens understand and access their representative government:

  • by publishing educational modules and materials on its website;
  • by writing and distributing newspaper and radio commentaries, books and booklets;
  • by producing and distributing educational media such as the Congressional Moments radio series and the Facts of Congress videos; and
  • by partnering with other groups to provide programs for the American Democracy Television network and hosting Seminars for Journalists.

The Center’s special niche is explaining Congress to the average citizen. Areas covered by the Center include public perceptions of Congress, the role of Congress in our large, diverse country, the main public criticisms of Congress, and the impact of Congress on people's everyday lives.

The Center on Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Project

The Center on Congress Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) project is entirely Web-based and provides a highly interactive collection of resources and activities designed to help teachers access and use the digital primary source materials of the Library of Congress. The Center on Congress TPS Web site focuses resources around five major themes:

  • Public Criticisms of Congress: A Look at American Political Cartoons;
  • The Impact of Congress: The First Congress;
  • Critical Thinking: Analyzing Congressional Floor Debates;
  • The Importance of Citizen Participation: American Social Movements; and
  • The Legislative Process: Building Consensus.

The Web site components include:

  • Interactive learning modules featuring selected Library of Congress primary sources, including documents, images, video and audio files;
  • Online applications that allow students and teachers to create dynamic time lines, scrap books, and other products without having to purchase proprietary software;
  • Features allowing teachers to customize student interactives to meet their curricular needs;
  • Lesson plans, aligned to curriculum standards for all states, to help teachers use the interactive learning modules and the Library’s digital collections in the classroom;
  • Guides for searching the Library’s sites, understanding copyright laws and issues, working with technology, and creating classroom projects;
  • An online workspace giving teachers and students a place to access and store student work on the Web site’s interactive learning modules.

To access the Center on Congress TPS Web site go to www.tpscongress.org. For more information, contact Elaine Larson at 812-339-2203, ext. 245.

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