Harvard Civics Project: An Interactive Event

Harvard Civics Project: An Interactive Event

The Harvard Civics Project is an initiative to bring case method teaching to high school students and adults alike, to deepen their understanding of American democracy. The August 20th 7 PM Zoom event will be moderated by Alisa Harvey, Social Studies teacher at Sunset High School in Beaverton and sponsored by the Washington County Unit of League of Women Voters of Oregon. The case discussion will allow participants to make decisions that foster critical thinking skills. The LWV hopes that this program will encourage more cross-party dialogue and enthusiasm around political engagement, both of which are at the heart of the League’s work.


“Make Civil Rights Decisions in Real Time: A Harvard Case Study on Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Black Voting Rights (1965).”

The Harvard Case Study Method is an interactive teaching style that will be new to many adults, who will have to suspend what they know and see the events as they unfolded in real time.

The topic commemorates King and the 55-year anniversary of the Voting Rights Act that resonates today with the upcoming General Election.

“The intention behind teaching these cases is to help students and the community recognize the importance of being engaged, and encouraging a public discourse on these critical issues with historical knowledge as people make decisions with regard to voting,” Harvey says.

Students and community members will think about the legacy of equality efforts in America and make connections to contemporary rights and protest movements.

To attend the event, pre-registration is required using this link: https://bit.ly/2WDsPGx

The 20-page case study and questions will be emailed to participants prior to the event to allow time for study and to formulate answers to discussion questions in advance. 

Many state Leagues have sponsored teachers to train on the Harvard Case Study method in Boston with Harvard Professor David Moss. Almost all participants viewed the case method positively with 94% finding them informative and 92% enjoyable.

Sign up now to register and receive the case study materials here. Contact lwvor@lwvor.org or call 503-581-5722 with any questions.

Preparing for the Event

For attendees: As part of your preparation for the interactive portion of the event, please read the case study linked here

As part of your case preparation, we ask that you use the questions listed below to guide your reading. To make the program as productive as possible, it is important that you read the case and formulate answers to these questions in advance:

-Given the 14th and 15th amendments, which guaranteed “equal protection of the laws” and voting rights irrespective of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (and which were ratified in 1868 and 1870, respectively), how did racial segregation and large scale disenfranchisement of black citizens become entrenched in the South over such a long period of time?

-Why did the NAACP (founded in 1909) adopt a legal strategy to fight segregation and disenfranchisement in the early decades of the 20th century? If you had been around at the time, would you have been optimistic or pessimistic about this strategy?

-How do you explain the timing of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown decision, which declared that “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal? Could this decision have come twenty years earlier? Fifty years earlier? Why or why not?

-By early 1965, what was the SCLC’s strategy for securing comprehensive voting rights legislation? How had King and other leaders of the SCLC come to this strategy?