At a time when democratic institutions are being challenged on multiple fronts, schools have a profound responsibility to raise important questions about equity, justice, civil discourse, and the challenge of finding common ground and common understanding.
As early as kindergarten, students can learn how to disagree respectfully about controversial ideas, think critically about the common good, develop values of empathy and commitment, and take their very first steps toward lives of civic engagement.
The Davis Democracy Initiative bridges intellectual study and applied, practical experience in professional and public life. In an innovative step, it builds on the work of prominent centers and programs at US universities and liberal arts colleges in a K – 12 educational setting. The Initiative’s core themes of inquiry and engagement include an examination of politics and democratic participation, civil rights, media bias, legal systems and social justice, public policy, community engagement, and social responsibility.
The Initiative will also enable Punahou to deepen its contributions to Hawai‘i by creating collaborations and partnerships with our state’s public schools, other independent schools, and higher education institutions in Hawai'i and throughout the nation. Programs for student mentoring, volunteer work, and internships, a lecture series, faculty seminars, and teaching projects will enable students and teachers from across the state to develop skills in civil discourse, mediation, debate, and promote engagement designed to help deliver a transformative civic education at a moment when lifelong values and commitments start to develop.
Together, we aim to educate future generations who understand, respect, and defend the democratic values, culture, and institutions needed to secure our common future.