The Seven Disciplines of World Citizenship

The seven disciplines of world citizenship mastery of which is key to making informed decisions at the voting booth are: economics, politics, ethics, history, statistics, rhetoric, and science. The key components of each are laid out in this table.

                         Seven Civic Discplines and Key Components of Each


          #1                              #2                                #3

Economics Personal Public    Corporate
Politics Local State    National
Ethics Personal Political    Professional
History Economic Political    Cultural
Statistics Probability Completeness    Interpretation
Rhetoric Straw Men Ad Hominems    Red Herrings
Science Health  Climate    Method


The ultimate test of thinking citizenship is the ability to make a strong case for both sides in the next election marshalling principles, facts, and solutions for each of the issues that might be so important it should influence your decision. Without this breadth of research and analysis informed decisions can not be made. Mastery of the basics of these seven civics disciplines is indispensable to this task.


Principles Facts Solutions
Common Ground


The K-12 curriculum of every school in America (and the world) should be structured around this capstone exam.

How would it work? It would be like rigorous debate training for every child – not just the gifted few. Just as a rigorous musical or athletic training program involves daily practice of at least an hour a day, so would rigorous debate training.

Every day every student would make an argument for something marshalling a principle, a fact, and a solution. She would take the opposite point of view the next day.

Just as the average student who starts a rigorous athletic or musical program at 5 years of age becomes pretty good by age 14 and excellent by age 18 and able to trainer younger students. So too with debate.

Real democracy requires trained thinking citizens. This is the road to real democracy.

You can not possibly make strong arguments without a basic understanding of the fundamentals of ethics, economics, history, political science, rhetoric, statistics and science. These basics are not a matter of opinion. But this understanding is not there.

During the last decade working in various capacities at Harvard University I have found Harvard Law School professors who confuse the Preamble to the Constitution with the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. I have found Harvard seniors whose favorite course was “Justice” who are unable to come up with even a rudimentary definition of the term. I have found economics majors who can not articulate the most basic laws of economics.

But these essentials should be as automatic for a high school graduate as naming the five continents or running through the multiplication table. No more difficult than for an 18 year old tennis player to demonstrate the proper motion of a serve or for a piano player to play an arpeggio. Or for a chemistry major to explain how the periodic table works or what the most important elements in it are.  Or a physics student to explain Newton’s three laws of motion, the phases of the moon, or the cause of the seasons.