John Steiner: What Should Every American Know?

John Steiner
John Steiner

What should every American know?

In this time of social division and demographic change, we in the United States need a base of common knowledge more than ever. That's why we created an initiative called What Every American Should Know. Inspired by our colleague E.D. Hirsch, author of Cultural Literacy, we are asking: What do you think Americans should know to be civically and culturally literate?

A 21st century sense of cultural literacy has to be diverse and inclusive. It needs to come not from one person but from all of us. That's why we are crowdsourcing a collective list of historical facts, cultural references, civic ideas, and other kinds of common knowledge. Tell us the top ten things you think every American should know!

We invite you to share this crowdsourced Top Ten with your colleagues and friends, and encourage your organization to create a list. The Aspen Institute will be featuring lists on Twitter and in the Aspen Ideas Blog. As ideas are submitted, we'll continue to aggregate the lists on our website and outline “what every American needs to know.”

“What Every American Should Know” (WE-ASK) is a project of the Aspen Institute Citizenship & American Identity Program, and grew out of an essay by executive director Eric Liu. The Program was created in 2014 to explore how, in an age of increasing diversity and widening inequality, this country can cultivate a sense of shared destiny and common civic purpose. Learn more here.

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