Breaking Campus News. Launching Media Careers.
New Florida law forces universities to vastly expand Constitutional curriculum, civic literacy

Florida’s three largest universities must vastly expand their instruction on constitutional principles under a new law recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The new law refocuses three already established academic centers at Florida State, University of Florida and Florida International University, retooling them with an emphasis on nurturing patriotism and western-democratic thought through active instruction.

UF’s Hamilton Center will “educate university students in core texts and great debates of Western civilization and the great books. The center is responsible for developing curriculum and courses to satisfy the requirement for the competency in civil discourse,” the law states.

DeSantis, at the bill’s signing event on May 15, said the Hamilton Center “is going to be a place where all these subjects, which were so essential for most of our history, and certainly the American founders would have said you need to have grounding on all this stuff, will be front and center.”

The legislation also requires Florida State University to rename and refocus its Institute for Governance to include viewpoint diversity as it develops a rigorous curriculum around the American system of government and its foundational documents.

Simultaneously, it infuses Florida International University’s Adam Smith Center for Study of Economic Freedom with funding to hire faculty and develop a curriculum.

DeSantis listed the financial support each center will receive for the expansions. He said FSU’s rebranded Florida Institute for Governance and Civics and FIU’s Adam Smith Center will receive $8 million and $5 million in additional funding, respectively. UF’s Hamilton Center will receive the most support, raking in $30 million.

James Kallinger, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives who has been involved with civic literacy expansion efforts in the Sunshine State, praised the bill’s passage in an interview with The College Fix.

“It is so foundational in a free society that we understand civic literacy basics,” he said. “We’re always one generation away from losing our freedom and, if we don’t have a basic understanding of civic literacy, we are going to lose it.”

Representatives from the three centers did not respond to requests from The College Fix seeking comment.

As it stands, the centers act as fulcrums for civil discussion and education on a wide range of social, political and economic issues. Primarily, events and guest lectures hosted by the centers serve as the framework through which students are exposed to various governmental topics.

DeSantis, at a press conference, said that “eventually we’ll hopefully turn these (centers) into their own college(s).” The Florida governor also underscored the centers’ key roles in “faculty recruitment,” enticing the “review of essential subjects,” and promoting civic literacy.

Progress on turning UF’s Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education into its own college must be reported to lawmakers every year, starting in January 2024.

The Florida Institute of Politics at Florida State University will now be called the Florida Institute for Governance and Civics, per the law.

It will provide “students with access to an interdisciplinary hub that will develop academically rigorous scholarship and coursework on the origins of the American system of government, its foundational documents, its subsequent political traditions and evolutions, and its impact on comparative political systems,” the law states.

It will also “model civic discourse that recognizes the importance of viewpoint diversity, intellectual rigor, and an evidence based approach to history.”

The Adam Smith Center for Study of Economic Freedom has also been given the go ahead to “hire faculty, develop curriculum, and fundraise” under the legislation.

The Adam Smith Center for the Study of Economic Freedom will implement “programming to ensure that all university students demonstrate competency in civil discourse,” the law states.

MORE: ‘Embarrassed’ by patriotism: Scholars explain why civics education is failing

IMAGE: Shutterstock

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Please join the conversation about our stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, MeWe, Rumble, Gab, Minds and Gettr.

About the Author
College Fix contributor Mateo Guillamont is a third year political science and philosophy university student in Miami.