Democracy Infusion Project: Curriculum


What is the Democracy Infusion Project?

The Democracy Infusion Project is designed to help journalism educators show democracy’s impact in every course and on any beat.

The Democracy Infusion Project was created by Jane Elizabeth, a leading media consultant and former managing editor at The News & Observer, and UT-Austin Ph.D. and postdoc Tamar Wilner.

The Democracy Infusion Project is a free collection of classroom resources for journalism educators who want every student to learn and understand “how things work” in a democratic society. The project is supported by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University as part of U.S. Democracy Day, which is funded by Democracy Fund.

Read more about the Democracy Infusion Project.

When it comes to the data, here’s what we know:

— Fewer than half of college-age people (ages 18 to 24) are even registered to vote, and only about a quarter of them voted in the 2022 midterm elections.
— Only about half of the country’s eighth graders have ever taken a civics course, and their test scores fell two points in the most recent testing.
— Only 18 percent of colleges and universities include an American history or civics course in their general education requirements.

Full-semester “journalism and democracy” courses are offered at a few well-established journalism schools. But smaller journalism programs — particularly at state-supported schools and community colleges — are struggling to support just basic journalism courses these days.

The Democracy Infusion Project is designed especially to reach those schools, overloaded faculty and brand-new adjuncts. The lessons and assignments can be incorporated into any media course — sports reporting, magazine editing, photojournalism and more.

The free content includes full lessons and “mini lessons” that demonstrate how to incorporate democracy discussions in any journalism class; sample assignments for individual students and groups; syllabi, quizzes and rubrics; learning goals and objectives.

Educators are welcome to copy, adjust and iterate the content to suit their own courses.

How to get started

Use this starter guide for educators and view this introductory lesson that helps make the case for all journalism students to learn to write about “how things work” in a democracy. It’ll come in handy when you have students who are anxious or confused by the concept.

Download the learning resources:

Sample class lessons

Preparing for the difficult interview:
Download the lesson plan
Download the slides

Misinformation and your journalism:
Download the lesson plan
Download the slides

Local news: Where are the stories?
Download the lesson plan
Download the slides

Getting started on your story:
Download the lesson plan
Download the slides

Ethics in journalism:
Download the lesson plan
Download the slides

Diversity, journalism, and democracy:
Download the lesson plan
Download the slides

Democracy and journalism:
Download the lesson plan
Download the slides

Pitching your story ideas:
Download the slides

How to write the Q&A story:
Download the slides

Journalists and safety:
Download the slides

Our first cohort of pilot participants

Each piece of content in the Democracy Infusion Project includes an informal “instant feedback” form for all users. This form — along with formalized feedback from a group of six professors piloting the curriculum for the fall 2023 semester — will be used to modify and improve the content for future use.

Name Institution Title
Kate Edenborg University of Wisconsin-Stout Professor
Kate Gannon University of Texas-El Paso Associate professor
Monica Kwasnik University of Oregon, Clark Community College Pro Tem instructor
Gina Masullo University of Texas at Austin Associate professor
Barbara Nixon Auburn University, Belmont University Adjunct professor
Vincent Peña DePaul University (Chicago) Assistant professor
Mila Sanina Penn State Assistant teaching professor

✨ We hope you’ll review and use the Democracy Infusion Project materials, and we welcome your suggestions and questions. We’ve made it easy to contact us with your thoughts.


The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University is providing infrastructure support for this iteration of Democracy Day, so you can contact us at [email protected].

Still have questions? Contact the Center for Cooperative Media directly by sending an email to [email protected].


The Democracy Day project is supported by Democracy Fund and sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.