At “Constitution Cafés,” We, the People, Try to Form a More Perfect Union

How I'm Getting Citizens Together to Rewrite Our Government’s Sacred Text

Are Americans finally ready to un-rig their Constitutional system?

I’ve spent nearly the past decade traveling the United States and talking with people about the Constitutional system, and I think the answer is yes.

My work on the question started in 2008, with an experiment called the Constitution Café. These were an evolution of the Socrates Café, public gatherings around the globe (from Tokyo to Sydney to Salt Lake City) that follow Socratic principles and served as spaces for friends and foes, intimates and strangers, to explore existential problems, an exploration that …

Pledging Allegiance to Our Different—and Shared—Ideals of Citizenship

Even in Times of Bitter Partisanship, Americans Can Unite Around Common Beliefs and Goals

Citizenship in the United States is distinguished by how many different and contradictory abilities and actions it requires of citizens, said panelists at a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means to Be …

The Many Ways to Be a Good Citizen

From the Revolutionary Era to Today, "Doing Your Part” Has Meant Different Things for Different Americans

The Constitution tells us what makes a citizen of the United States, legally speaking. But over the decades, American citizenship—and the ingredients that make a good citizen in a …

Crowdsourcing in the Name of Science

Citizen Scientists Are Great for Data Collection and So Much More

The earthquake near Washington, D.C., five years ago in August 2011—the one that damaged the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral but had little other noticeable impact—caught me by surprise. …

In Choosing to Be Cherokee, She Was Forced to Renounce the U.S.

Until 1930, American Women Like Harriett Gold Lost Their Citizenship When They Married Foreign Nationals, Even If Those “Foreigners” Were Native Americans

Mixed couples in the United States—those who crossed boundaries between Indian Nations and the European newcomers—left permanent legacies well beyond the families they created. They also shaped the meaning of …

What Does ‘Natural-Born’ American Even Mean?

The Seemingly Rigid Requirement for the Presidency Didn't Disqualify the Nation's British-Born Founders

When choosing among presidential candidates, Americans find plenty to debate about their fitness for office, experience, and economic and foreign policies. But the framers of the Constitution made no mention …