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NCSS Summer Institute - Woodstock at 50: The 1960s & the Transformation of American Society

Painted Jimi Hendrix and Janice Joplin shown in front of a crowd at Woodstock
July 14, 2019 to July 17, 2019

Make connections between US history and popular culture, earn credit, and visit Bethel Woods, the Woodstock festival grounds, and its museum during the Woodstock at 50 Institute!  

In August of 1969, the social and political forces at work in throughout the 1960s converged at Yasgur’s Farm. The ensuing music festival became a pivotal moment in defining American identity. In honor of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary, delve into the cultural, social and political impact of the festival and the 1960s on American society and how the changes of the 1960s still impact the United States today. Historian, author, and long time Grateful Dead publicist, Dennis McNally, will serve as Scholar in Residence, sharing from his deep research of the post-war Bay Area "Beat" and "Hippy" scenes, as well as his work connecting race and popular culture from Mark Twain to the present.

In collaboration with Steven Van Zandt's Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, participants will:

  • Examine the societal changes crystalized at the Woodstock Festival from WWII to present.
  • Discuss how to “take informed action” from the lessons learned.
  • Engage in discussion lead by Dennis McNally, historian, author and music publicist for the Grateful Dead.
  • Gain classroom-ready techniques, concepts and free curriculum resources for immediate classroom use.

Guiding Themes: 

  1. The cultural and political importance of Woodstock, American culture, and the 1960s
  2. The value of using music to teach in the social studies classroom
  3. Changes and conflicts of the 1960s and today
  4. Music as a change-agent


$459* per person (NCSS Members) / $599* per person (NCSS Non-member)
Nonmembers may join or renew during registration to be eligible for the member rate.

* Credit available through Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) Department of History at additional cost (optional). 



Steve Armstrong
Past President, National Council for the Social Studies
Social Studies Consultant, Connecticut State Department of Education

Bill Carbone
Vice President of Education
Rock and Rock Forever Foundation

Dennis McNally
Scholar in Residence, Historian, Author, and Music Publicist

Allison Norrie
Social Studies Teacher
Fairfield Warde High School

Collaborating Organizations

Rock and Roll Forever Foundation
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Central Connecticut State University, Department of History



Central Connecticut State University
1615 Stanley St
New Britain, CT 06053

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
200 Hurd Rd
Bethel, NY 12720

Nearest Hotel

Courtyard by Marriott
(4 miles)
1583 SE Rd
Farmington, CT 06032

Draft Agenda

Day 1 - Sunday

  • Introduction
  • Opening evening session: Woodstock film viewing (1970).

Day 2 - Monday

Dennis McNally, Cultural Perspectives of Woodstock in the Context of the 1960s

Breakout Sessions

  • Session A: Politics and Social Change in the 1960s
  • Session B: Music as Change Agent in the 1960s?

Music Excursion
Live performance off site, TBD

Day 3 - Tuesday

Visit to Bethel Woods, Woodstock, NY

  • Tour of the grounds
  • Discussion with original Woodstock participants/ “survivors”

Classroom session at Bethel Woods and led by Bethel Woods Staff
Inventing Woodstock: Planning, Marketing, and the Aftermath of America’s Great Music Festival

Visit to Levon Helm’s Barn, Woodstock, NY

Day 4 - Wednesday

AM Sessions

  • From 1969 to 2019, Impact of the Festival and the 1960s
  • Teaching Woodstock and the 1960s in the Classroom

Afternoon Departure


Central Connecticut State University
1615 Stanley St
New Britain, CT 06053