Program Details:

Critical Civic Inquiry

Critical Civic Inquiry (CCI) is based on the premise that students from historically marginalized groups will be most likely to engage in school when they see academic work as relevant to their everyday lives and they are invited to participate with adults in making their schools better. This approach builds on recent evidence showing developmental benefits when young people are treated as partners in school change rather than just targets of remediation (Kirshner & Ginwright, 2012; Ozer & Wright, 2012). It is consistent with youth development principles that emphasize opportunities for leadership and mattering in the teen years (Eccles & Gootman, 2002). Specifically, our intervention aligns teacher-level professional development with opportunities for students to experience CCI's four key elements: (1) understanding self in systems; (2) participating in classroom decision-making; (3) collecting and analyzing data about an educational barrier at their school, and (4) engaging in structured dialogues with school teachers and adult personnel about solutions. The research gathered by students is meant to be a tool that facilitates students' access to decision-making settings and partnerships with adults. We have completed three years of implementation with more than 25 teachers and classrooms in a range of middle and high schools. Participating classrooms have included science, literacy, math, ESL, and special education.

This is a private program by request only, or for a specific audience or group.


In Colorado

  • Denver
  • Thornton

Program Partners

Supporting This Program

  • Denver Public Schools
  • University of Colorado, Denver

Program Contact

Ben Kirshner
Principal Investigator

Program Categories


  • Education (K-12)

Program Types:

  • Service Learning Course


  • Socio-Economic Disadvantaged
  • Students - High School
  • Urban Communities

We do our best to accurately represent CU Boulder’s outreach programs and services, but they are subject to change and may no longer be active in a community. Please contact the program directly for current information.