About National Council for the Social Studies

Social studies educators teach students the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy. The mission of National Council for the Social Studies is to provide leadership, service, and support for all social studies educators.

Founded in 1921, National Council for the Social Studies has grown to be the largest association in the country devoted solely to social studies education. NCSS engages and supports educators in strengthening and advocating social studies. With members in all the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 69 foreign countries, NCSS serves as an umbrella organization for elementary, secondary, and college teachers of history, civics, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law-related education. Organized into a network of more than 110 affiliated state, local, and regional councils and associated groups, the NCSS membership represents K-12 classroom teachers, college and university faculty members, curriculum designers and specialists, social studies supervisors, and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies.

NCSS defines social studies as "the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence." Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. In essence, social studies promotes knowledge of and involvement in civic affairs. And because civic issues--such as health care, crime, and foreign policy--are multidisciplinary in nature, understanding these issues and developing resolutions to them require multidisciplinary education. These characteristics are the key defining aspects of social studies.

In 2010, NCSS published National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. The revised standards, like the earlier social studies standards published in 1994, continue to be structured around the ten themes of social studies. However, the revised standards offer a sharper focus on Purposes; Questions for Exploration; Knowledge (what learners need to understand); Processes (what learners will be capable of doing); and Products (how learners demonstrate understanding). NCSS standards ensure an integrated social science, behavioral science, and humanities approach for achieving academic and civic competence that can be used by social studies decision makers in K-12 schools.

The NCSS framework consists of ten themes incorporating fields of study that correspond with one or more relevant disciplines. The organization believes that effective social studies programs include experiences that provide for the study of:

  • Culture
  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Individual Development and Identity
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
  • Power, Authority, and Governance
  • Production, Distribution, and Consumption
  • Science, Technology, and Society
  • Global Connections
  • Civic Ideals and Practices

NCSS publications reach a readership of more than 25,000 educators. The flagship, peer-reviewed publication of NCSS is Social Education. Elementary educators often choose to receive the peer-reviewed journal Social Studies and the Young Learner. For middle school teachers, NCSS publishes the online supplement Middle Level Learning. Learn more at www.socialstudies.org/publications.

At the NCSS Annual Conference, thousands of attendees learn from 400 presentations, receive classroom-ready lessons, network with colleagues, listen to keynote speakers who are leaders in their fields, and explore the Exhibit Hall with more than 150 exhibitors. Learn about this year's Annual Conference at www.socialstudies.org/conference.

Membership in National Council for the Social Studies is open to any person or institution interested in the social studies.

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