Build a Better Understanding of Civics

Posted By:  Tina Walker Davis
Date Posted:  5/19/2017

civics | civ·ics | \’si-viks\ : the study of the rights and duties of citizens and how government works


Some people remember civics class from their middle or high school days, and indeed, until the 1960s it was common for American high school students to have courses in civics and government. But civics offerings were cut as the curriculum narrowed over the ensuing decades. Now, in the months following the November election, there has been a renewed interest in civics that crosses party lines.


In communities large and small, public libraries are providing information, tools and a place where people can connect to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of active civic engagement.


“Libraries are the great equalizers of our society,” says Jenny Pedersen, community librarian at the Redmond Library. “They are the place where anyone can access the information they need to navigate society, and a big part of that is understanding how our civic systems work.”


Deschutes Public Library is offering two, three-part series on civics in June (Redmond Library) and July (Downtown Bend Library). Each part covers an important aspect of civic understanding:

  • Part I: The Constitution and How We Got There
  • Part II: Citizenship and Participation
  • Part III: Roll of the Press and Information


“Build a Better Understanding of Civics” will be led by educator Trevor Tusow.


“It’s important for all of us to become intimately familiar with civics and the responsibility we all have as citizens,” says Tusow. “Truly the only way to ensure that our government is working to protect the rights of the people and to move us in the right direction is for informed citizens to be active in holding their elected officials accountable to the needs of the electorate.”


Tusow says that the goal is for a group of people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to learn together and have constructive conversations. “I believe that when we strip away the labels and get back to first principles, most of us are more similar that we are different. It’s important for all of us to become intimately familiar with civics and the responsibility we all have,” he says.


Alyssa Bennett, community librarian at the Downtown Bend Library, says teaching civics is essential in helping community members understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens. “For a democracy to thrive, all community members need access to information as well as opportunities to engage with others in civil discourse to facilitate engagement, problem solving, and action,” Bennett says.


Space for the series is limited and registration is required. Individuals can register online at the links provided (Redmond series:; Downtown Bend series: or by using the Library’s web calendar at


About the facilitator: Trevor Tusow was born and raised in Portland and received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Oregon. He also holds a Master’s Degree in secondary education. Tusow taught government, psychology and world history at Forest Grove High School for nine years. He now teaches social studies and English at Redmond High School.


For more information about these sessions, please visit the library website at People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Liz at 541-312-1034.



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