National Council for the Social Studies
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) is a U.S.-based association devoted to supporting social studies education. It is affiliated with various regional or state level social studies associations, including: the Middle States Council for the Social Studies, the Washington State Council for the Social Studies, the New York City UFT Association for the Teaching of Social Studies, the Michigan Council for the Social Studies, and Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies.
Founded in 1921, NCSS engages and supports educators in strengthening and advocating social studies. With members in all the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 69 foreign countries, NCSS serves as an umbrella organization for elementary, secondary, and college teachers of history, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law-related education. Organized into a network of more than 110 affiliated state, local, and regional councils and associated groups, the NCSS membership represents K–12 classroom teachers, college and university faculty members, curriculum designers and specialists, social studies supervisors, and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies.
NCSS defines social studies as "the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence." Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. In essence, social studies promotes knowledge of and involvement in civic affairs. And because civic issues—such as health care, crime, and foreign policy—are multidisciplinary in nature, understanding these issues and developing resolutions to them require multidisciplinary education. These characteristics are the key defining aspects of social studies.
Expectations of Excellence
In 2010, the council published National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning and Assessment. This publication is an update and revision of Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies originally published in 1994. The National Curriculum Standards provides an articulated K–12 social studies program that serves as a framework for the integration of other national standards in social studies, including U.S. and world history, civics and government, geography, global education, and economics. NCSS standards ensure that an integrated social science, behavioral science, and humanities approach for achieving academic and civic competence is available to guide social studies decision makers in K–12 schools.
The NCSS framework consists of ten themes incorporating fields of study that correspond with one or more relevant disciplines. The organization believes that effective social studies programs include experiences that provide for the study of: Culture; Time, Continuity, and Change; People, Places, and Environments; Individual Development and Identity; Individuals, Groups, and Institutions; Power, Authority, and Governance; Production, Distribution, and Consumption; Science, Technology, and Society; Global Connections; and Civic Ideals and Practices.