All SPICE Multimedia

What Does It Mean to Be an American?

An overview of the six lessons of "What Does It Mean To Be An American?", a free online resource for high school and college classrooms.
What Does It Mean To Be An American: Curriculum Overview

What Does It Mean to Be an American? is a free online curriculum for high school and college classes that examines what it means to be an American. Designed for flexible use in both classroom and remote-learning environments, the lessons are interactive and packed with powerful imagery, compelling videos, and challenging discussion tools that emphasize critical thinking.

With separate modules for students and teachers, What Does It Mean To Be An American? is divided into six comprehensive lessons, each one a different lens through which to probe the curriculum's central question. Areas for study and discussion include:

  • Immigration—Explore the history of immigration to the U.S., challenges and opportunities immigrants encounter, and how immigration has contributed to the evolution of our nation.
  • Civil Liberties & Equity—What is the meaning and value of civil liberties? What is the meaning of civil rights? Examine the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and parallels to contemporary issues.
  • Civic Engagement—Examine the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy and why community empowerment and civic engagement are important.
  • Justice & Reconciliation—Examine the meaning of justice, the roles that justice and reconciliation play in society, and the various historical and current-day movements for social justice.
  • Leadership—Through self-reflection and discussion, explore and refine ideas about effective leadership and how to foster these qualities.
  • U.S.–Japan Relations—Investigate the history between the United States and Japan and probe key issues in contemporary U.S.–Japan relations.


Designed for mobile, tablet, and desktop, the lessons can be easily shared to a Learning Management System, Google Classroom, or downloaded as a PDF.


Interactive website: What Does It Mean to Be an American?