Concepts that may not be central to engaged citizenship

Not all elements important to a full education and a fulfilling life (eg. the arts and athletics) require familiarity with the core concepts that underlie public policy challenges. 

Other vitally important concepts and skills (eg. Critical Thinking, Media and Financial Literacy, Ethics & Morality) are not core ones, as they rely on, and emerge from, an understanding of the core concepts that this project aims to identify.


This is a personal, and incomplete, list of topics that I value greatly but that I don’t think are needed by an engaged citizen in a robust accountable democracy.  Others will certainly disagree with my opinion on what are the essential core concepts, and will bring to the table better insight and wisdom than I have.  My goal in the PostPandemic Curriculum Project is to provide a starting point for discussion, not to provide a definitive answer.

NOTE: To be effective, the number of “core concepts” should be no more than two or three dozen.  It will change over time as issues facing our society change.  I make no suggestion that topics not on the list are unimportant or should be removed from the curriculum.

A great many important and valuable concepts aren’t central to having meaningful discussions concerning public policy options.  Most of these “not-core-for-citizenship” concepts provide foundational preparation for one or more specialties.  Many provide excellent ways to introduce and enrich discussions of core citizenship concepts.  Others simply provide fascinating glimpses into the way that the world works.

Some of the concepts and topics that I have omitted have altered how I experience the world.  I find them intriguing, profound, and beautiful; they have brought me great pleasure.  But neither the beauty nor the utility of a concept makes it fundamentally important to the activity of engaged citizenship.

To achieve the goal of developing an effective PostPandemic Curriculum for engaged citizenship, this project needs to remain firmly focused on those concepts that underlie the most important public policy issues facing us. 

My list of “painful-to-exclude” items includes:
 • Plate tectonics
 • Periodic table
 • King Lear / Hamlet / Midsummer’s Night Dream / The Tempest …..
 • Sonnets / Hiakus / Limericks ….
 • Evolution
 • Newton’s Gravity / Einstein’s Relativity / Heisenberg’s Uncertainty …..
 • Electron shells / Sub-atomic particles / Dark matter …..
 • Trigonometry / Differential Calculus / Quadratic equations / Square root of -1 …..
 • Wells / Twain / Carroll / Poe / Milne / Lee / Conrad / Hugo / Homer …..
 • Caravaggio / Ernst / Rodin / DaVinci / Bernini / F Lloyd Wright …..
 • The Gershwins / Leonard Cohen / Stan Rogers / Gregorian chants / Beethoven …..
Although each of these informs and enriches my life, none are involved in my thinking when I wrestle with public policy issues.