The Riley Institute’s Teachers of Government summer program makes social studies and civics education in our state’s middle and high schools more compelling and relevant by taking teachers of government to Washington D.C. for an intensive week of meetings with lawmakers, government officials, NGO leaders, and other policymakers, combined with evening seminars and readings led by Furman faculty. Eight competitively selected teachers participate at no charge in this annual program.

Participants are eligible to receive Graduate Professional Development credit from Furman by paying a minimal tuition per credit hour. For more information, contact Dr. Elizabeth Smith, Politics and International Affairs professor and Teachers of Government program coordinator.

Comments from past participants

“While my history degree from Furman prepared me well to teach social studies in a South Carolina high school, it was the experiential learning I gained through the Riley Institute’s Teachers of Government program that brought me a hands-on and enriching understanding of the content and made me a better civics teacher. The program also helped me develop new professional relationships across South Carolina with other government teachers with whom I continue to share resources and ideas in order to improve our students’ understanding of the content.” Sara Crider, 2019 participant and teacher at J.L. Mann Academy

“Teachers of Government was a life-changing experience. I still refer back to experiences from the trip — standing next to part of the Berlin Wall, the ‘VIP’ Capitol Hill tour, hearing a live debate on the U.S. Senate floor, meeting with my representative — in my classroom every year, and the connections and friendships I have made from my cohort will last a lifetime. I know my teaching drastically improved after this trip, and this was by far the best professional development I have ever attended.” Crystal Whitaker, 2017 participant and Fairfield County Teacher of the Year 2019-20

Lesson Plans

During the two-week program, teachers are provided with structured opportunities to network with others in their field, promoting the sharing ideas and best practices. As a result of those experiences, past participants have submitted lesson plans to be used by their colleagues who may benefit from their ideas.

Campaigns and Elections

Congressional Reapportionment and Redistricting

Follow the Money

Presidential Race

Republican Candidates for U.S. President

Who Elects the President? A look at the Electoral College in America and its alternatives


Legislation: Follow That Legislation 

Lesson Plan from C-Span

C-Span Student Cam Project

C-Span Student Cam Preparation: C-Span Project Introductory

C-Span Project Outline

C-Span Video Project

The Federal Government

Branches of Government and Checks and Balances Lesson

The Three Branches of the United States Government submitted by Rebecca, a member of a Youth Civic Engagement Program

Government: More than Democrats and Republicans
U.S. Government for Kids


Earth: The Apple of Our Eye

Made in China

Population Pyramids: A Graphic Tool for Interpretation and Analysis

The Media and Politics

Comparing Headlines in Different States (American Government Lesson Plan)

Fake News

Media: Bias in the Media

A Nation’s Founding: The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution

Amendment Re-Do

Bill of Rights

Bringing the Constitution to Life

Declaration of Independence Lesson
Enlightened Thinkers of Europe, Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights, and Founding Fathers of the United States Lesson Plan

First Amendment

Freedom: What Has It Come To Mean?

Locke v. Rousseau – Two Ideas of Popular Sovereignty

Rule of Law

Security in the United States — before and after 911

Separate is Not Equal

The Class Constitution

U.S. History and Constitution Lesson Plan Form

U.S. History and Constitution Explanation of Lesson

What are your Rights?

South Carolina History

South Carolina History

South Carolina: It’s Place in American History (website links for resources included)

South Carolina Signers of the Constitution: A Biography

U.S. History

Civil War

Civil War Diary

Drama in the Social Studies Classroom

“Heroes Salute”

History Comes to Life

Reflections of the American Soldier

U.S. Supreme Court

Mock Supreme Court Case

Supreme Court Case Analysis for AP Govt. Class

World History

The Holocaust Lesson

Feudal Japan and the Role of the Samurai

Government of the World Unit Plan

WWII: Nationalist and Independence Movements

Using Primary Source Documents in the Classroom