Joe Foss Institute Joins CPTL

Paul Carrese during lecture

The Center for Political Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University and civic education nonprofit the Joe Foss Institute have entered a collaboration agreement to continue the expansion of civic education in schools nationwide.

The agreement, effective Nov. 1, integrates the Joe Foss Institute’s robust civic education resources into the Center for Political Thought and Leadership, 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 for Political Thought and Leadership,” 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 the work Arizona State University can undertake both 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 for Political Thought and Leadership as a 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 for Political Thought and Leadership 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 their supporters, have worked for nearly two decades with a national network of educators to develop and roll out its curriculum program through its website, as well as its mobile app. The institute offers instructor guides, videos, template tests and lesson plans at no cost for 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 CPTL 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. Together, the combined programming will offer more resources for teachers and education programs around the country.

The Center for the Political Thought and Leadership

The Center for Political Thought and Leadership (CPTL) 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 their efforts to understand and improve American political society. For more information about the Center for Political Thought and Leadership, 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