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Fostering collaboration and academic connections for Idaho teachers

The Symposium on Civic and History Education (SCHE) 2023 Conference

The Symposium on Civic and History Education (SCHE), a collaborative group of Boise State faculty and community partners, successfully hosted its annual conference on the Boise State campus, Aug. 3-4, 2023. The conference, focused this year on the theme “Understanding Democracy,” brought together 50 social studies teachers, university students and faculty, and community members to learn from and connect with each other.

Presenter standing in front of a screen with participants at tables
Presenter with social studies teachers during a session at the SCHE 2023 conference. Photo credit: Veronica Roper

Supporting Educators Across Idaho

“Education is as much about connection as it is about information, and our goal for this conference is to provide a supportive environment where Idaho’s teachers can build networks, expand their content knowledge, and develop new pedagogical techniques, all with the ultimate aim of supporting student learning and engagement.” SCHE member and Boise State University History professor Lisa Brady

The conference provided an excellent platform for educators across Idaho to collaborate with colleagues from various Idaho school districts, community colleges, and universities. While many attendees were from Boise, Meridian, and Eagle schools, others came from Arco, Caldwell, Cascade, Council, Emmett, Gooding, Hansen, Idaho Falls, Nampa, Pocatello, and Wilder.

Noted scholar Dr. Johann Neem opened the conference with his keynote address, “Educating Our Nation: Public Schools and Our Democracy, Past, Present, and Future.” Neem, a specialist in early American history at Western Washington University, spoke about the role of public education in the nation’s founding and its continued–though often contentious–role in the nation’s democracy.

People seated in a circle of chairs
Dr. Johann Neem (left, facing the camera) talks with conference participants. Photo credit: Veronica Roper

During a full day of sessions, educators shared best practices, resources, and research findings to enhance the teaching of civics, history, and social studies at all levels of the curriculum. Among the presentation topics were world revolutions, the United Nations, labor and democracy, economics and globalization, and several sessions on the US Civil War, civil rights, and the Lost Cause myth. Two plenary addresses–one by the 2022 Gilder Lehrman Teacher of the Year Colin Donovan (Coeur d’Alene High School) and another on the challenges and opportunities related to Artificial Intelligence in the classroom–rounded out the offerings.

“The Understanding Democracy conference was my first as a teacher. Going into it I was feeling insecure, intimidated, and excited. Leaving BSU campus on Friday evening my feelings changed to ones of validation, inspiration, and comradery.” Leesa Johnson, Social Studies teacher, Cascade Schools

People mingle at chairs and tables
Conference participants networking and chatting during one of the breaks. Photo credit: Veronica Roper

Looking Forward: Strengthening Idaho’s Educational Landscape

The success of this year’s event set the stage for future conferences that will continue to support and empower Idaho teachers in their pursuit of excellence in civic and history education. SCHE intends the conference to be an annual event, with new themes, new presenters, and new opportunities for Idaho’s educators to connect and collaborate!

Thank You to Our Sponsors and Partners

The 2023 SCHE Conference for Idaho Social Studies Teachers received generous grants from Boise State’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for Advancing American Values, the Idaho Humanities Council, and CapEd.

“In a time of constrained resources, there are more excellent ideas than we can afford to fund. But this topic was so vital, and the need to support teachers so urgent, that I was delighted to contribute to the Symposium. The reverberations of this excellent work will be long lasting, and the return on investment will be significant.”Dean Leslie Durham, Boise State University, College of Arts and Sciences

The conference also benefited from partnerships with Boise State’s School of Public Service, College of Education, and College of Innovation and Design, as well as the Organization of American Historians.

Boise State faculty and staff from the Department of History, School of Public Service, College of Education, and the College of Innovation and Design planned and facilitated the conference.

Special thanks go to the faculty and staff of the Boise State Department of Art, Design, and Visual Studies, who donated time and moving skills to ensure the Center for the Visual Arts was open and ready for conference activities!

About the SCHE

The Symposium on Civic and History Education (SCHE) is a collaborative group of Boise State faculty and community partners. SCHE is dedicated to supporting Idaho teachers through various initiatives, including an annual conference, an open education resource website, and a guest speaker portal. By fostering collaboration and academic connections, SCHE aims to enhance the quality of civic and history education across the state.

For more information, visit the SCHE website