“A More Perfect Union”

The Idaho Humanities Council’s 2022 weeklong summer institute, titled A More Perfect Union was held July 18-23, 2022, on the campus of the College of Idaho in Caldwell. Twenty-nine teachers from around the state participated.

The institute explored the history of America’s struggle to form a more just and inclusive society.  The value of an educated citizenry with a knowledge of the systems of government and a recognition of the importance of their participation in civic life was emphasized and resources were provided to teachers to help them teach critical thinking skills to their students as they prepare them to fully participate as engaged citizens.  The institute included opportunities to examine racial justice, gender equality, experiences of Native Americans and other under-represented citizens through a careful consideration of ways these topics have been addressed both in laws and practice.

Participants joined in lectures and discussions, watched films, attended workshops, and collaborated with one another and our team of scholars to immerse themselves for the week in this important and timely topic. Sessions included: “Toward A More Perfect Union: An Invitation to the Citizenry” and “The Supreme Court’s Role in Preserving Constitutional Liberties” from Dr. David Adler of the Alturas Institute, “Black History, Reconstruction, and the Historical Profession” by Dr. Marie Stango from Idaho State University, “From on Paper to In Practice: The Struggles and Realities of ‘Voting Rights’” from Dr. Amy Canfield from Lewis Clark State College, “Teaching Baldwin” with Dr. David Green Jr from CAL State LA, “Deliberating in a Democracy” with Cindy Wilson, an award-winning teacher, “Intersectionality and Democracy” and “The Mask You Live In” with Dr. Caroline Heldman from The Representation Project and Occidental College, “Two Techniques to Foster Lifelong Skills in Critical Thinking” by Dr. Ron Hatzenbuehler from Boise State University, “Myths and Heroes: Challenging Narratives of Native American History” with Dr. Liz Redd from Idaho State University, “The Uses and Abused of History: Rethinking How We Interact with History” with Dr. Rebecca Scofield from the University of Idaho, “Spatial Awareness: The History We Write Onto Our Communal Spaces” with Dulce Kersting-Lark from the University of Idaho.

Participants received and studied institute texts that included:  All That She Carried by Tiya Miles; The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin; Turtle Island: The Story of North American’s First People by Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger. Participants also studied excerpts from The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America by Jeffrey Rosen, How the World is Passed; A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith, and The 1619 Project edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones.


Here is what some of our attendees had to say about their experience:


“I look forward to attending these seminars every year – and although I come

about every other year, I have never been disappointed. This year included.

Everything was amazing. I felt well taken care of (appreciate the mini Swedish

Fish), well fed (oh my gosh those brownies), well instructed, inspired and

energized. Everything was great.”


“The IHC created an extraordinary experience for scholars and teachers alike.

Every need was considered both before the institute as well as during. If

feedback was given of something that needed done, it happened immediately.

There was a definite sense that the staff would do anything to make the

participants as comfortable and accommodated as possible…I can’t say enough about how impressed I was by the conference. Well done”!


I really appreciate how friendly, thoughtful, and helpful the staff at the IHC are. The scholars, too. It’s a great week of learning and connecting with my peers. Thank you for making it such a good experience year after year.


The diversity of speakers was wonderful. The variety of media presentations, small group activities, and large group presentations was wonderful.


I loved that the scholars were willing to interact with us outside of class. It was great to talk to them one on one. It showed that they really care about teachers.