Joe Foss Institute Joins Center 

Paul Carrese during lecture

[Note: Prior to 2023, and at the time of the merger with the Joe Foss Institute, the Center for American Civics was known as the Center for Political Thought and Leadership.]

The Center for Political Thought and Leadership (now the Center for American Civics) at Arizona State University and civic education nonprofit the Joe Foss Institute have entered a collaboration agreement to continue expanding civic education in schools nationwide.

Effective Nov. 1, the agreement integrates the Joe Foss Institute’s robust civic education resources into the Center for American Civics, which advances research in American political thought and supports civic education inside and outside the classroom.

“We’re very excited to bring the Joe Foss Institute programs and expertise into the Center,” said Paul Carrese, director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. “The Institute’s long-standing mission to help educators teach civics, and to elevate civics literacy and informed citizenship, aligns with the core tenets of the Center. This collaboration greatly enhances Arizona State University's work in Arizona and nationally.”

The Joe Foss Institute was founded in Arizona by World War II Medal of Honor recipient and former Governor of South Dakota Joe Foss and his wife, Didi in 2001. The Institute has developed multiple civic education tools, including its Civics Curriculum, which tests students on topics covered in the U.S. Citizenship Test; and its Veterans Inspiring Patriotism program, which brings U.S. military veterans into schools around the country so students can interactively learn about the Constitution, patriotism, and the importance of being civically engaged.

As part of the agreement, Lucian Spataro, Joe Foss Institute’s Chief Academic Officer and Vice President of Legislative Affairs; and Dylan Dalzotto, Director of Programs; will join the Center as senior fellow for the Joe Foss Civics Initiative, and manager for the Joe Foss VIP Program, respectively.

“Connecting the work of the Joe Foss Institute with the Center allows us to reach a broader audience with even more educational resources for students and teachers around the country,” Spataro said. “Providing educators nationwide with the tools they need is critical for them to properly teach American civics.”

The Joe Foss Institute, its Board and its supporters have worked for nearly two decades with a national network of educators to develop and roll out its curriculum program through its website and mobile app. The institute offers instructor guides, videos, template tests, and lesson plans at no cost to teachers. The curricula were developed with the input of teachers from around the country. After more than 30 states developed their own civic literacy model or adopted the Institute’s model of civic literacy requirement for a public high school diploma, the Institute leadership and board thought their larger mission could best be furthered by contributing the institute’s staff, expertise, and resources to a larger educational institution.

The Center plans to integrate the Foss Institute’s Civic Education Initiative, civics curriculum, Veterans Inspiring Patriotism, and “You Are America” Civics Series into the center’s civic education and community engagement efforts. The combined programming will offer more resources for teachers and education programs nationwide.

Center for American Civics

Center for American Civics is a research center focused on American political thought and civic education. It is housed inside the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University. The center supports scholars, teachers, and students in understanding and improving American political society. For more information about the Center for American Civics, visit

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership is an academic unit inside The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU. The school offers two undergraduate degrees and a minor, and is developing a masters of arts to launch in the fall of 2020. It supports civic education around the community through its public speaker events, especially the Civic Discourse Project lecture series, as well as other initiatives including its Civic Leadership Institute for high school students and Arizona Constitution Project.

The school also was recently awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of a national team that includes iCivics and institutes at Harvard University and Tufts University, to conduct a national study on K-12 U.S. history and civics education. Learn more about the school at