Rebuilding American Civics

While many Americans know a bit about our government foundations, processes and institutions, it is important that we have a shared understanding of these topics, so that we can have better and more constructive political conversations. Join us for a series of classes that look at rekindling our shared understanding about the principles of American civics. These classes will be taught in a conversational format, refreshing your understanding of American government and political thought, while uncovering new insights. It is often said that people should avoid talking about politics in mixed company; in our country, however, it is important that, as citizens we discuss politics but do so in a civil manner using critical thinking skills and empathy. As such, these classes will emphasize critical thinking and dialogue, learning along the way that it is okay to “agree to disagree.”

Classes will be led by Sam Scinta, President of IM Education and Lecturer in Political Science at UW-La Crosse and Viterbo University, along with special guests.

To register for this series of classes or to get more information contact Kelli Jerve at or Jill Miller at  You may also visit Viterbo University’s D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership Webpage for more information.

Schedule of Workshops:

We are currently on our summer break; see previous class descriptions below. Classes will resume in the fall, so check back later for an updated schedule!

Understanding the Supreme Court. Every year, the Supreme Court hands down influential decisions that shape American life. To many Americans, however, the work of the Court is opaque and not well understood. This session will explore the basics of the Supreme Court, how to read a Court decision, and why it is important for Americans to understand the workings of the judicial branch.

Understanding Civil Liberties-Privacy Rights. The liberties we enjoy as American citizens are among the broadest liberties granted to people in the world, and many Americans articulate a right to privacy from the government. And yet, the word privacy does not appear in the Constitution. What is the source and extent of this liberty? In this session, we will take a closer look at the Fourth Amendment, as well as the broader idea of privacy in the constitutional context

Civil Disobedience: 2020 saw an increase in protests from all points on the political spectrum, in many respects the biggest American protests in over 50 years. Where does this idea of civil disobedience come from in American history, and how do we square the right and need to protest with the common good? How is this right protected by the Bill of Rights? In this session, we will explore the concept of civil disobedience throughout American history and the role it can play in our civil society.

Election Reform: After the 2020 Elections, legislators and citizens across the country called for reform of the voting process, both at the state and the national level. What motivated these calls for reform? Are these changes necessary? Which reforms make the most sense? We will critique and explore the status of several of these proposals.