Congress Week: "Of the people, By the people, and For the people"
September 12–16, 2011
The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. This short document not only recites personal liberties but also lays out the basic functions and structures of government. Today, Americans celebrate this landmark document that launched the first experiment in self-governance on Constitution Day or Citizenship Day. This day is the foundation for Congress Week.
What is Congress Week?
Congress Week is a national initiative that promotes a greater understanding of the Legislative branch of government – critical in the checks and balances outlined in the Constitution. Often the object of scorn and distrust among by the American Electorate, The U. S. Congress also suffers from a lack of understanding of its aims and obligations among many Americans. The goal of Congress Week is to provide a variety of contexts that encourage the public to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of this complex government body and its responsibilities to the public it serves, and to use this understanding to buttress their robust deliberation of the issues and policies facing them as citizens and constituents.
ACSC, in promoting the study of Congress, has identified themes for Congress Week that invite exploration, discussion, and discovery. ACSC planners envision Congress Week as a coordinated effort among congressional centers to offer a wide range of programs that highlight the functions, relationships, structures, and limitations of the largest elected body in United States. In keeping with the notion that, “all politics is local,” ACSC encourages it members nationwide to tailor Congress Week events to their own resources and audiences.
The 2011 Congress Week theme recognizes that our representative democracy begins with the diverse constituencies, political priorities, and local interests that shape the legislative processes at the national level. Among the potential themes and areas of focus that ACSC members may explore include:
The processes involved in transforming a local idea or concern into a federal law
The impact of grass-roots citizen participation on Congress and legislation
Historic campaigns and elections
Analyses of landmark legislation
Representatives’ and Senators’ relationship to their particular districts or states
Congress’s constitutional responsibility as a representative body
Reach out. Be a speaker. Plan a talk. Teach a class. Create an exhibit. Show a film. Host a panel discussion or reception. Do a podcast. Partner with a non-partisan group.
Collaborate with another department. Engage colleagues. Promote your political collections. Use your imagination.