Opening the Oval with David M. Rubenstein: Understanding American Power
Opening the Oval with David M. Rubenstein: Understanding American Power
This free curriculum website from the New-York Historical Society connects educators with classroom resources that explore presidential leadership and power.
New-York Historical is proud to present this collection of educational materials and resources to accompany the new video series Opening the Oval with David Rubenstein: Understanding American Power. Comprising civics as well as history, the series describes and explains the powers of the executive branch, describing how different presidents have interpreted and exercised these powers, in times of crisis and prosperity.
Opening the Oval is inspired by New-York Historical’s rich library of conversations between renowned historians and David Rubenstein, a masterful and highly engaging moderator. It is anticipated that by reformatting the conversations as animated classroom-ready videos, accessible to all, students will engage more fully in learning about, and thinking more deeply about government and U.S. history.
Each unit of this dynamic curriculum centers on a single episode of Opening the Oval, providing a set of primary sources, life stories, activities, and discussion questions intended to enlighten, enrich, and continue the conversations highlighted in the episode. Examining the motives behind, as well as mechanisms through which occupants of our nation’s highest office achieve results, we believe students will be able to better understand the president’s role in American civic life and the influence the public has on that role.
The Education Division of the New-York Historical Society is committed to providing stimulating curriculum materials to enhance the teaching and learning of American history and civics in classrooms across the country. It is our hope that this video series and companion curriculum will support you and your students in reflecting on power, politics, and the part we all play in shaping our nation’s future.
This curriculum proudly aligns to the following themes and design challenges from the Educating for American Democracy Roadmap.
- Theme 1: Civic Participation
Materials in this curriculum examine “how citizens’ active engagement has mattered for American society.” The examples of presidential and activist leadership explored demonstrate “the principles, values, habits, and skills” needed to “support productive engagement in…a constitutional democracy.”
- Theme 3: We the People
This curriculum highlights the importance of “the people” as “a group of people who share political ideals and institutions.” By providing life stories, primary sources, and scholar conversations representing a range of perspectives, this curriculum also “explores the challenge of E pluribus unum: forging one political people out of diverse experiences”
- Theme 4: A New Government Constitution
By focusing on the powers of the president, as determined by the Constitution, and the use of Constitutional amendments to modify individuals’ access to certain rights, this curriculum “explores the institutional history of the United States as well as the theoretical underpinnings of constitutional design.”
- Theme 5: Institutional & Social Transformation
Materials in this curriculum address “how social arrangements and conflicts have combined with political institutions to shape American life.” Each unit asks students to think about how certain decisions and actions have “defined the country” and shaped the lives of its citizens.
- Theme 6: A People in the World
Materials related to foreign relations and presidential powers in wartime directly address the “place of the U.S. and the American people in a global context.”
- Design Challenge 1: Motivating Agency, Sustaining the Republic
This curriculum presents examples of civic participation and explores key questions about equality that are still relevant today.
- Design Challenge 2: America’s Plural Yet Shared Story
Primary and secondary source materials in this curriculum consider the perspectives of Americans from many backgrounds and ask students to think about who has access to formal power and who does not.
- Design Challenge 3: Simultaneously Celebrating and Critiquing Compromise
The examples of leadership and decision-making in this curriculum provide case studies through which students can examine the importance and dangers of compromise and the role of disagreements in sustaining a constitutional democracy.
- Design Challenge 4: Civic Honesty, Reflective Patriotism
This curriculum invites students to closely examine examples of presidential and civic leadership (across time and the political spectrum), with an emphasis on honesty and critical thinking, as opposed to adulation or cynicism.
- Design Challenge 5: Balancing the Concrete and the Abstract
This curriculum, which is organized thematically, but grounded in concrete historic examples, invites students to consider the connections between the authentic decisions made by real people in history and their own actions as civic agents today.
David M. Rubenstein is Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of The Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest and most successful private investment firms. Established in 1987, Carlyle now manages $301 billion from 26 offices around the world.
Mr. Rubenstein is Chairman of the Boards of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Gallery of Art, and the Economic Club of Washington; a Fellow of the Harvard Corporation; a Trustee of the University of Chicago, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Institute for Advanced Study, the National Constitution Center, the Brookings Institution, and the World Economic Forum; and a Director of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among other board seats.
Mr. Rubenstein is a leader in the area of Patriotic Philanthropy, having made transformative gifts for the restoration or repair of the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Monticello, Montpelier, Mount Vernon, Arlington House, Iwo Jima Memorial, the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the National Zoo, the Library of Congress, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mr. Rubenstein has also provided to the U.S. government long-term loans of his rare copies of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment, the first map of the U.S. (Abel Buell map), and the first book printed in the U.S. (Bay Psalm Book).
Mr. Rubenstein is an original signer of The Giving Pledge; the host of The David Rubenstein Show and Bloomberg Wealth with David Rubenstein; and the author of The American Story, How to Lead, and The American Experiment.
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