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 is the largest professional 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. 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.
Membership in National Council for the Social Studies is open to any person or institution interested in the social studies.
What is Social Studies?
Social studies is 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. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.
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.
Social Studies Standards
National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
In 2010, NCSS published the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. The NCSS National Curriculum Standards consists of ten themes incorporating fields of study that correspond with one or more relevant disciplines. The National Council believes that effective social studies programs include experiences that provide for the study of:
- 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
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards: Guidance for Enhancing the Rigor of K-12 Civics, Economics, Geography, and History
The result of a three year state-led collaborative effort, the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards was published in 2013. The C3 Framework was developed to serve two audiences: for states to upgrade their state social studies standards and for practitioners — local school districts, schools, teachers and curriculum writers — to strengthen their social studies programs. Its objectives are to: a) enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines; b) build critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills to become engaged citizens; and c) align academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies. The C3 Framework is designed to guide states in their efforts to upgrade their social studies standards and to inform the pedagogical approaches of social studies educators across the nation.
Both these documents are powerful tools to guide and strengthen social studies teaching and learning. The national curriculum standards are a guide for identifying or updating content standards. The C3 Framework is not intended to prescribe the content necessary for a rigorous social studies program but is designed to guide states in their efforts to upgrade their social studies standards and to inform the pedagogical approaches of social studies educators across the nation.
Endorsements and Special Projects
Frequently, NCSS is invited to participate with others in a variety of projects, services, or endorsements. NCSS reviews requests for involvement or endorsement three times per year. Requests received after the submission date are considered at the next scheduled meeting.
Note: Effective October 4, 2017, the endorsements and special projects review process has been suspended for the remainder of the 2017-18 year.
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