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March 31, 2020

Filmmaker Ken Burns joins National Constitution Center for online class

The free class is part of an ongoing program to provide courses to students who are home due to COVID-19

Education National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center free online classes J. Fusco/Visit Philadelphia™

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will be teaching an online class for students on Friday, April 3, with the National Constitution Center on the role of the U.S. Constitution during crises.

The National Constitution Center will host a free, interactive course online Friday with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

The online class on the U.S. Constitution will be offered via the video conferencing app Zoom, and will also feature National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffery Rosen. It will begin at 1 p.m.

The class, which is called "The Constitution in Times of Crisis," will focus on moments of crisis in the nation's history when constitutional battles have emerged, such as during the Civil War, World War II and the Great Depression. The seminar also will examine what constitutional issues could arise during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Students who are interested in taking Friday's class are able to access a variety of clips from a number of Burns' films that are related to the discussion beforehand.

"This is a troubling, tumultuous time for our country — and for young people, in particular," Burns said in a statement. "It's more important now than ever that students have meaningful opportunities to grapple with America's complicated history. I'm excited to partner with Jeff and the NCC for this discussion about our country's founding documents. I firmly believe that we cannot fully understand our present moment without engaging with the past. I hope this conversation helps students and teachers explore how we got here and how history itself is contested."

Friday's class is the latest in a series of free online courses held every day by the National Constitution Center for middle school, high school and college students to teach them about the Constitution while out of school and home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The classes have had over 4,000 students across the country participate so far, the museum said.

"As part of our expanded opportunities for remote learning, I'm thrilled to have Ken Burns join us for a conversation about constitutional battles in moments of crisis," Rosen said in a statement. "For over 40 years, Ken has served as America's preeminent historical storyteller, exploring the essential questions of the American experience. This is an exciting chance for students to learn from one of our most inspiring historical thinkers."

The National Constitution Center says that it's hoping to bring in more guest historians to teach online classes to students in the future as part of its daily program.

Students who are interested in joining Friday's online class with Burns can register for the class online.


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