Introduction and Purpose
Understanding the historical development of structures of power, authority, and governance and their evolving functions in contemporary American society, as well as in other parts of the world, is essential for the development of civic competence. In exploring this theme, learners confront such questions as: What is power? What is legitimate authority? How are governments created, structured, maintained, and changed? How can we keep government responsive to its citizens’ needs and interests? How can individual rights be protected within the context of majority rule? By examining the characteristics of various governance systems, learners develop an understanding of how groups and nations attempt to resolve conflicts and seek to establish order and security. Through study of dynamic relationships among individual rights and responsibilities, the needs of social groups, and concepts of a just society, learners become more effective problem solvers and decision-makers when addressing persistent social problems encountered in public life.