Civics for Adults

To Enhance Civic Knowledge
& Inspire Political Engagement

     "The most important political office is that of the private citizen." Justice Louis Brandeis


Civics for Adults is the brainchild of former educator and librarian, Donna L Cohen MLIS, MEd, to bring non-partisan, content-rich, and interactive workshops to the public, that educate citizens about our political processes and open avenues for civic engagement.

“Our democracy is strengthened when citizens have accurate and non-partisan civic knowledge,” says Donna. “My workshops provide information typically hidden behind the headline-grabbing, background noise of our lives. I inform about our most essential government and political structures, support critical thinking skills by illuminating ways that information may be distorted, and encourage citizen engagement by highlighting multiple ways that we can influence civic and political life.”

Donna continually updates and customizes the content in her four workshops:
  • Misinformation, Fake News and Political Propaganda
  • Citizen Activism 101—Making Change Happen
  • The Constitution—Fulfilling Democracy's Promise? Democracy, the Constitution and Representation in Congress
  • Beyond Voting—Elections and Campaign Financing
These workshops can be in-person or virtual and are always free to participants. The format is a PowerPoint presentation of about one hour, followed by a question/discussion time Workshops are sponsored by a variety of organizations who host them such as libraries, civic groups, and private associations. Any group looking to improve the civic and political literacy of its members is welcome to inquire about the workshops.

Donna believes strongly in the community role of public libraries as free, inclusive, and accessible spaces for lifelong civics education and dialog.

A great way to learn what Civics for Adults is all about is to check out Donna's interview on Oregon Public Broadcasting's Think Out Loud program from Nov. 3, 2020.
https://www.opb.org/article/2020/10/30/civics-educator-aims-to-enhance-knowledge-and-engagement-in-political-process/

From the Citizen Activism workshop:
"Donna provided useful and detailed information that was inspiring! It was in depth, but attainable. I, also liked the focus on local policies that affect us directly. She encouraged me to be the activist that I have wanted be, but have stopped myself from being. She said to start by doing something simple, but courageous. Thank you for this gift."

For more non-partisan civic and political resources follow Civics for Adults nonpartisan Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Civics-for-Adults-1490728887922036/ and/or join the email list - which is used sparingly and your email address will never be given to others: dcohen@hevanet.com

Workshop Descriptions -Fall 2022.pdf

Misinformation, Fake News and Political Propaganda

Are you overwhelmed with messages from politicians, news sources, and other media? Distinguish truth from fiction using real-world examples of political ads, news headlines, logical fallacies, graphs/charts, the effect of word choice in messaging, statistical data and other types of information. Become your own “fact-checker” and learn how to find accurate information.

  • Mainstream press and “fake news”
  • Social Media posts
  • Email clickbait
  • Propaganda
  • Deepfakes
  • Survey / poll questions
  • Economic data
  • Graphs and charts
  • Finding good information

Praise for this workshop:

“Well organized, excellent information!” 

     “Loved it...well-rounded, wide array of examples!”

          “This was fun and informative! Thank you so much!”

               “...students need this!!!”

 Citizen Activism 101—Making Change Happen

Want to improve life for yourself and your neighbors or have a concern about local, state, or federal laws? This workshop provides a brief historical perspective, discusses strategies for change, and gives examples of successful advocacy. You’ll learn about choosing your battles, deciding what matters to you; and how to get heard. Learn tools for change, "lobbying”, how to track legislation, and provide testimony.

  • Historical perspective
  • Types of advocacy
  • Examples of successful advocacy
  • Who makes the rules?
  • Tools / strategies for change
  • Engaging with government / lobbying for influence
  • Tracking civic / political legislation

Praise for this workshop:

          “Great presenter...should be a day conference!” 

               “ACTIONABLE!” 

                    “Very practical information!”

 The Constitution: Fulfilling Democracy's Promise? -

Democracy, the Constitution, and Representation in Congress

 Looks at the Constitution’s creation, traces major changes to its interpretation, and examines its current structural limitations. This workshop punctures some myths and helps participants develop a perspective that helps evaluate its meaning more thoughtfully. 

  • Status of democracy
  • Early America
  • Forming a country
  • Bill of Rights
  • Structural issues / representation
  • Interpreting the Constitution
  • Changes to the Constitution

 Praise for this workshop:

“Good level of history and contemporary political ideas”

     “Every citizen should take this serious look at our Constitution.” 

          “Good job presenting in a non-partisan way.” 

Beyond Voting—Elections and Campaign Financing

This is a unique workshop covering topics related to our electoral systems and presenting specific ideas for bi-partisan civic/political engagement. 

  • A constitutional right to vote?
  • Voter suppression
  • Election 2020 / 2022 issues
  • New and potential election practices
  • Redistricting / gerrymandering
  • Campaign financing issues and tracking

 Praise for this workshop:

“Very good, solid information – This is what all Americans need to know.” 

     “I consider myself a well-informed citizen but I learned a great deal of new information.”

               “Truly valuable information.” 

Current Workshops Scheduled  

Programs are either virtual or in-person, and will be noted.

Check back regularly, as details about workshops and registration change frequently. You are always welcome to request your local library or organization to be a sponsor! 

Comprehensive Resource Lists for each workshop are located on the Resources page.

Workshop Descriptions -Fall 2022.pdf

Misinformation, Fake News and Political Propaganda.

Sunday, December 4, 4-5:30 PST. Stoughton [MA] Public Library. VIRTUAL. Register: TBA

Citizen Activism 101—Making Change Happen 

Non scheduled right now.

Beyond Voting: Elections and Campaign Finance

None scheduled right now.

The Constitution: Fulfilling Democracy’s Promise? -

Democracy, The Constitution and Representation in Congress.

None scheduled right now.






                                                                                     Resource Lists - Enjoy.

Resources lists do get updated regularly. 

MISINFORMATION RESOURCES

Resources for Misinformation-Winter2022.pdf

Supplemental Misinformation Resources, April 2021. Resources-UCSLD-2021.pdf

Resources-Metrics.pdf [Measuring democracy, civic literacy and socio-economic health of our country.]

ACTIVISM RESOURCES

Parts are customized, e.g. if you live in Beaverton, OR, then there will be information on Beaverton City  government. Most information, though, is applicable to everyone.

Resources-Activism-Winter2022-WashCntyV.pdf

Resources-Activism-SpecialForWesleyComm-WASH-2022Jan.pdf

ELECTION RESOURCES

Parts are customized, e.g. if you live in Beaverton, OR, then there will be information on Beaverton City elections. Most information, though, is applicable to everyone. 

ResourceList-Elections-CampaignFinance-WINTER2022.pdf 

ResourceList-Elections-CampaignFinance-Supplemental-SPRING2022.pdf

CONSTITUTION RESOURCES 

Constitution Resources-2022Jan.pdf

Additional material for Constitution -  CloseToDissolution.pdf  

EIU-DemIndex-ScoringModelV2.pdf [This is the scoring model for the Democracy Index, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit

Facebook page: for more non-partisan civic and political resources:

https://www.facebook.com/Civics-for-Adults-1490728887922036/

and/or join my email list - which is used sparingly and will never be given out to others:

dcohen@hevanet.com 

RECENT UPDATES

Updates are sent to the email list about once/month and contain information about scheduled workshops and also a selection of the informative civic/political nonpartisan posts from the Civics for Adults Facebook page.

2022Aug25-CivicsUpdate.pdf

2022June9-CivicsUpdate.pdf

Additional Materials for Public Library Association 2022

Basic State Stats.pdf


Follow Civics for Adults On Social Media

Donna L Cohen  MLIS MEdDonna L Cohen  MLIS MEd
Donna L Cohen, MLIS [Master of Library and Information Studies], MEd

I was a teacher and librarian and now devote my time to developing, refining and presenting these workshops. My background, expertise, and interest have combined to help me fill a need. 

I believe that civic education should be lifelong and also that public libraries are the best places for this. I agree with Ms Spaulding [see below], and these workshops are my contribution:
“Civic education is a national security imperative and something that really needs to be reinvigorated in our schools and in our communities!” Suzanne Spaulding, former Under Secretary for cyber and infrastructure protection at the US Department of Homeland Security.

The life of our democracy depends on its citizens thinking critically, understanding basic political structures and engaging in the work of sustaining and building our society.