Founding Principles: American Governance in Action


Founding Principles: American Governance in Action is an online series produced by Bowdoin College and narrated by Government Professor Andrew Rudalevige that provides an introductory overview of American government and politics. Each resource includes a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and student viewing guides with comprehension and critical thinking questions. With a rich study of primary sources such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers, and an emphasis on promoting civic engagement and participation, students explore the foundation of our democracy and the importance of citizenship.  

This collection supports high school Government, Civics, and U.S. History courses, and is aligned with the new AP U.S. Government and Politics exam.

Special thanks to the Amy P. Goldman Foundation for generously supporting this Collection.

  • Founding Principles | "Separation of Powers"

    Explore the history and importance of the separation of powers in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and The Federalist Papers, students learn how the separation of powers became a key principle in the shaping of American government and politics.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | “Federalism”

    Explore the history and practice of American Federalism in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Students watch video, study and analyze primary source documents like The Federalist Papers, and craft an argumentative essay addressing the positive and negative aspects of Federalism.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | “Congress”

    Learn more about Congress and why it’s so important for a healthy democracy in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Constitution and completing a careful analysis of lawmaking (and lawmakers!) students learn why Congress is an integral part of American government and politics.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | “The Presidency”

    Explore the history and responsibilities of the presidency in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Students watch video, learn about the rules and responsibilities of the presidency, and craft an argumentative essay answering the question: Is the president the most powerful leader in the free world?

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "The Judiciary"

    Learn about how the Judicial Branch works in this video from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action. How does the Supreme Court interpret the Constitution? What’s the difference between a “living” and “dead” Constitution? Is the power of judicial review established in the Constitution? In this resource, find answers to all these questions and more. By studying the 3rd Article of the Constitution and applying the case of Marbury v. Madison, students engage in an exploration of the judicial branch of the U.S. government.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "Public Opinion"

    Explore the importance of public opinion in shaping national politics in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like The Federalist Papers and the overlap between policy and popular beliefs, students learn about polling design and how random sampling, survey reliability, margins of error, and data analysis guide our understanding of public opinion.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "The Media"

    Explore the intersection between media and politics in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Constitution, specifically the 1st Amendment, students learn about the evolution of media, the impact of political ads on policy, bias in the media, and the effects of media framing, priming, and agenda setting in the shaping of American government and politics.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | “The Electoral Process”

    Learn about the Electoral Process in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Students watch video, study, and analyze how senators, representatives, and the president of the United States are elected.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "Electoral Behavior and Voter Turnout"

    Electoral behavior and trends in voter turnout are explored in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, students learn about how suffrage — the right to vote — has changed over time, the forces that push people toward and away from the voting booth, and the power of political ads to shift public opinion. 

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "Participation"

    Explore the wide spectrum of political participation in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Federalist Papers (#10), students learn about the various ways to participate in government beyond running for office and voting in an election. The episode covers political mandates, factions, pluralism, lobbyists, political action committees, and much more.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | “Lawmaking”

    Learn about the details of the Lawmaking—how it works and how it sometimes doesn’t work--in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Students watch video, examine the lawmaking process and pay special attention to recent Congressional filibusters.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "Policy Implementation"

    Explore how government policy is implemented and how government agencies are involved in many aspects of our daily life in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Constitution and the Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, students learn about the complex world of bureaucracy and the role of each branch of government in overseeing government agencies. The episode includes a summary of the spoils system, civil service, regulations, statutes, congressional oversight committees, executive orders, and judicial review.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "Civil Liberties"

    Explore how civil liberties are protected under the Bill of Rights in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Constitution and key Supreme Court cases like Barron v. Baltimore, New York Times v. The United States, and Roe v. Wade, learn about the ongoing debate about the scope and reach of the Bill of Rights. The episode covers issues like state’s rights, the complexity of freedom of speech, due process of law, clear and probable danger, and libel. 

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "Civil Rights"

    Learn about important civil right movements in American history in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Actiona civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, students learn about the fight for equal rights by different groups throughout history.

    Support materials include a breakdown of enduring understandings, an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Founding Principles | "Final Principles"

    Need an overview of the key founding principles of American government? Find it here in this episode from Founding Principles: American Governance in Action, a civics video series produced by Bowdoin College. Through a study of foundational documents like the Federalist Papers (#10, #37, and #85), students learn about the most important principles at the core of American democracy. The episode covers the separation of powers, checks and balances, public participation, public policy, public opinion, political gridlock, the role of status quo, and the difference between a republic and a pure democracy.

    This video serves as a helpful review of the entire Founding Principles series, and also a good review in preparing for the AP US Government and Politics Exam. Support materials include an overview of content, a list of covered foundational documents and Supreme Court cases, ideas for extending learning, suggested classroom activities, related vocabulary words, and a student viewing guide with comprehension and critical thinking questions. For more resources from Founding Principles, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Living Room Candidate

    The Living Room Candidate, an online exhibition of the Museum of the Moving Image, offers more than 500 commercials from every presidential race since the start of television campaign advertising in 1952. Visitors to the site can view the commercials, read commentaries about top campaign commercials, and access educational resources including a range of lesson plans that align with common core standards in English Language Arts and Social Studies.

    Grades: 4-12

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