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Bush Institute Launches High-School Curriculum on Liberty and Democracy

March 26, 2015

DALLAS, Texas

The Bush Institute at the George W. Bush Presidential Center today launched Freedom Matters!, a supplemental curriculum developed to help high school students connect the foundations of freedom to today’s global struggles for liberty. The curriculum combines the personal stories of dissidents and democracy advocates featured in the Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection video archive with broader, universal concepts of freedom, rule of law, limited representative government, and the protection of individual rights.

Nearly 150 educators and school administrators attended today’s curriculum launch, hearing from former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush and Margaret Spellings, President of the Bush Center, about why the global lessons included in the Freedom Matters! curriculum are so critical for today’s students.

“Less than one third of American students in grades 4, 8 & 12 are proficient in civics, the knowledge of the American constitutional system, and the role of government in civil society in the lives of free people,” said Mrs. Laura Bush. “Our goal with Freedom Matters! is simple: to foster the next generation of Americans to care about democracy and individual liberty at home and abroad.”

The curriculum, which consists of four units of teacher-led plans and supporting materials, leverages the Freedom Collection as a unique educational tool that introduces timely, high quality, multi-media content into the classroom without cost or need for special permissions. This unique feature embraces how today’s students learn and interact with information—through traditional readings, but also through videos and interactive tools.

Educators heard first-hand from two political dissidents featured in Freedom Collection videos, Xiqiu “Bob” Fu and Ammar Abdulhamid. Fu, a pastor and advocate for religious freedom in China, and Abdulhamid, a Syrian human rights activist, have led the charge for human rights in their home countries and currently reside in the United States as political refugees. The two joined educators to share their personal testimonies and field questions over lunch.

Following the curriculum’s morning launch, educators participated in in-depth training sessions, working with subject-matter experts to explore the curriculum’s content and identify opportunities to apply the lessons and principles in the classroom.

Freedom Matters! was created in cooperation with the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and with participation from leading curriculum developers and subject matter experts. Evaluators from Johns Hopkins University and Southern Methodist University facilitated independent review and field testing by educators from across Texas. The curriculum is made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

To view the Freedom Matters! curriculum, visit: www.freedomcollection.org/curriculum

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About the Bush Institute:

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization with the mission of cultivating leaders and advancing policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges. It raises current and thought-provoking issues and builds programs to address the challenges facing our nation and our world. The work of the Bush Institute is inspired by the principles that guided the Bushes in public life: education is the foundation of a successful life; freedom is a universal human desire; free enterprise is the engine of economic prosperity; and every human life is precious.

The Bush Institute’s Human Freedom initiative seeks to advance the development of free societies rooted in individual liberty, civil society, and democratic institutions and practices.  Our programs provide a continuum of support for freedom advocates leading nonviolent change in countries that are closed, in transition to democracy, or in retreat from democracy.  We advocate for U.S. global leadership and engagement as essential to increasing freedom in the world.

About The Freedom Collection:

The Bush Institute’s Freedom Collection is an archive of oral histories about the struggle for human freedom and democracy around the world. Launched online in 2012, the Freedom Collection reinforces the principles of human liberty by documenting in digital video the personal stories of men and women who have led or participated in movements to achieve freedom and democracy.