UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Canadian civic education, deliberative democracy, and dissent van den Berg, Ryan James


This thesis develops two normative standards for the evaluation of secondary-level Canadian civic education curricula, and evaluates British Columbia (B.C.)’s Civic Studies 11 and Ontario’s Civics (Politics) curricula accordingly. Both standards are concerned with the models of democracy that inform each curriculum and, more specifically, how these models open or close curricular spaces to prepare students to dissent in civic and political life. These standards are also sensitive to policymakers’ desire to increase Canadian youths’ civic engagement. Chapter One outlines the author’s agonist and semi-archic theoretical framework, positionality, research questions, and literature review. Chapter Two employs qualitative thematic analysis and determines that deliberative models of democracy inform both curricula. Chapters Three and Four use philosophical inquiry to develop normative evaluative standards based on critiques of deliberative democracy. Chapter Three makes the case that civics curricula should teach dissent as a positive right. Chapter Four argues that curricula should give critical attention to the passionate demands of civic life, especially as civic and political passions prepare students to exercise dissent. Chapter Five applies these standards to B.C.’s and Ontario’s civics curricula, and offers concluding thoughts.

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