Graduation Year

2016

Date of Submission

11-2015

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Government

Reader 1

Jon Shields

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© 2015 Bridget A. Moran

Abstract

For over a century, both France and the United States have struggled with how to best bring citizens and immigrants into a common culture through civic education. While it is still true that both countries attempt to bring citizens into a common culture, it appears that the two countries have diverged in the past few decades. While the U.S. still highlights the importance of democratic values and active political participation, we do not attempt to bring everyone into a greater common culture. Instead, civics and historical curriculum take a multiculturalist approach, celebrating different cultures and historical heroes that have come from a variety of racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Conversely, French civic curriculum emphasizes a universal common culture that all citizens are a part of. While the French acknowledge that citizens come from a variety of different backgrounds, differences are not celebrated. Instead common values like human rights and laïcité (secularism) are emphasized. While these two approaches appear very different, upon further inspection one will find that the two approaches have similarities. By the French ignoring cultural differences and the U.S. only discussing the superficial aspects of culture, both trivialize culture and ignore the deeper cultural differences that cause division. Ultimately, the lack of discussion surrounding cultural differences does not allow citizens to have honest and productive discussions about the controversies that arise in pluralistic societies.

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