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Briefs

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Campaign Finance

This brief dives into the basics of campaign finance, specifically the key terminology and debates surrounding campaign spending; the types of political organizations that raise and spend money in the political process; laws and court cases that have shaped campaign finance; and helpful information to know before you donate.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

Civic Engagement

What is civic engagement? Why is it important and how can you become more involved in your community? In this brief, we seek to provide our Circle members with a deeper understanding of the importance of Americans’ participation in civic life. We’ll also explain how The Policy Circle helps to build social capital, a crucial element of society strongly related to civic duty, and how you can become a more engaged citizen.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series The Foundational Series

Election Processes & Innovations

In a democracy, the government derives authority from the consent of the electorate. Holding elections and exercising the right to vote are essential to democracy. Many laws and rules govern the people and resources involved in campaigns and voting to make sure elections are competitive and inclusive. This brief will focus on election basics and ways to ensure free, fair, and secure elections.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

Free Speech

What is free speech? What are the limits to free speech? How does free speech play out on university campuses and on social media platforms? This brief discusses freedom of speech as provided in the First Amendment of the Constitution, why it is important in a democracy, court decisions that have limited and/or expanded these freedoms over time, and the challenges of supporting freedom of speech while also promoting safety and security of the nation and its citizens.

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2022 Series The Active Citizenship Series

Judicial Selection

Article III of the Constitution establishes the judicial branch and designates U.S. Congress shall have the power to establish district courts and courts of appeal. Once these courts are established, they require judges to conduct courtroom proceedings. Judges adjudicate legal cases, but how are judges selected and appointed?

Part of the Conversation Series: The 2022 Series The Active Citizenship Series

Strategic Giving and Civic Engagement

How we give of our time, talent, and treasures is often how we are known and remembered. This brief will provide you with an opportunity to reflect on how you currently give, better define your values and goals, and boost your understanding of the opportunities and challenges in philanthropy. It also highlights the role strategic giving can play in civic engagement and the renewal of civic life in America.

Part of the Conversation Series: Personal Finance Series The Active Citizenship Series

The Active Voter Guide

Your voice and your vote matter. Our elections depend upon participation by the electorate, including you. There are many ways to educate yourself and others and engage in the political process. This resource guide will walk you through all the components of being an active voter or volunteer: how to register, researching a candidate, developing an assessment scorecard, and getting involved by becoming a volunteer.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

The Decennial Census

Have you ever considered where funding for emergency response services come from? Or how hospital locations are determined? Data from the decennial census can play a part in both. Why does the nation need to make this count every ten years? What other information does the Census tell us? How does it affect individuals, communities, businesses, and government?

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

The Electoral College

The U.S. Constitution clearly specifies that the President by elected by the Electoral College. How exactly does this system work? Why was it originally put in place, and why in recent years has it been at the center of debates on election reform?

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

The Executive Branch

The executive branch of the U.S. carries out and enforces laws. Some roles, namely the President and Vice President, are well known. Most Americans are less familiar with the responsibilities of other entities, from the Cabinet’s fifteen executive department heads to the expansive number of federal agencies known by an alphabet soup of acronyms. This brief is designed to explain the structure, roles, and responsibilities of the executive branch.

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series The Foundational Series

The Judicial Branch

The U.S. judicial branch decides the constitutionality of laws and resolves disputes regarding the law. Most Americans are aware of the U.S. Supreme Court, but not many are familiar with other parts of the judicial branch at the federal and state levels. This Policy Brief is designed to explain the structure, role, and responsibilities of this vitally important branch of government.

Deep Dives: Judicial Selection
Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series

U.S. Constitution

The Constitution has been deeply debated since before its inception, and these debates continue today. If this democracy (i.e. constitutional republic) is going to work we all have to be active, educated players in the debate. To do so, knowing the origins and basics of the Constitution is essential. How did the founders develop the Constitution, and what does it cover? Who does it govern and how? What is its meaning today, and how does this relate to debates occurring in today’s courts and civil society?

Part of the Conversation Series: The Active Citizenship Series The Foundational Series