On Wednesday, March 30th, 2022, Fordham Prep hosted its first-ever FitzSimons Civics Symposium titled Social Media: Good or Bad?, part of the larger Civics Education Initiative.
FitzSimons Civics Education Initiative
Civics education flows directly from Fordham Prep’s Catholic Jesuit tradition and mission. The primary reason Ignatius Loyola approved that Jesuits would establish schools was because he believed they were a means to transform society, and contribute to what he called the “common good.” Pedro Ribadeneira, SJ, one of the important early Jesuits, explained the purpose of Jesuit schools in a letter to King Philip II of Spain by stating that “the proper education of youth will mean improvement for the whole world.”
Faithful to this tradition, an integral part of Fordham Prep’s mission today is to develop educated, informed, and engaged citizens committed to the common good. We want our students to depart for college inspired and equipped to be active citizens—young men willing to engage in civil dialogue and ready to promote a robust and healthy democracy.
How will this come about?
Thanks to a new, $1 million commitment from Ann and Dennis ’67 FitzSimons, Fordham Prep is delighted and proud to announce the FitzSimons Civics Education Initiative (CEI). The initiative will enhance our focus on several topics in US government and history, including:
• Federalism with a thorough understanding and appreciation of the system of government in the United States
• The Constitutional foundations of our democratic republic, particularly an enhanced recognition of the importance of free speech
• Guiding principles of American government
• The proper functioning of the various branches and levels of our government
• Elections and voting
• Civil liberties and rights; a respect for diverse points of view and civil discourse
• News literacy—the skills to understand today’s digital news and information ecosystem
This will give students more opportunities in class to learn, practice, and master the essential skills in becoming a citizen, including critical thinking, how to form reason based arguments with clear evidence, civic online literacy and proficiency, and effective communication.
Fordham Prep will introduce a new senior level social studies course, which will focus on civics in the first semester and economics in the second.
The Initiative also establishes the FitzSimons Symposium—an annual event which brings to the Fordham Prep campus two expert speakers, along with a moderator, representing divergent views on a current political, constitutional or social topic. The Junior and Senior classes will participate in the inaugural Symposium in the Spring of 2022. The symposium aims strengthen extra-curricular offerings and programs to promote robust and open dialogue. This will be done through investing in our Speech & Debate Team to attract more student participation, sponsoring civics related “town halls” and simulation exercises and activities like virtual mid-term and presidential elections, and mock supreme court trials.
We believe that when people come together with passionate views to defend their positions and engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue, new understanding, intellectual growth, and tolerance will emerge.
Dennis FitzSimons ’67
Retired Chair & CEO, Tribune Company
Chairman of the Board, Robert R. McCormick Foundation
- What level of our education system holds itself accountable for producing knowledgeable, patriotic citizens contributing to the common good?
- In this era where news, information and opinion are constantly being pushed out by traditional and digital media outlets, news literacy is critical. What are credible sources? Which are objective?
- How might other members of the Prep community, alumni and friends, get involved with the program?
Chair, Social Studies Department