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Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

Definition of Social Studies
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)

What's New

2015 Best Practices in Social Studies Institute

The 2015 Best Practices in Social Studies Institute took place June 29-30, 2015 at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines. The Institute hosted over 160 K-12 social studies teachers from across the state.  Over 20 sessions were offered at the institute with each session connected to a research based best practice in social studies education.  Presenters included the National Archives, Herbert Hoover Library, Echoes and Reflections, the Medal of Honor Foundation, State Historical Museum, the Iowa Bar Association, Grand View University, CultureALL, and many social studies teachers from around the state.  Teachers also heard remarks from Iowa Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel and teachers who attended the Echoes and Reflection workshop heard from one of the last surviving Holocaust survivors in Iowa, David Wolnerman.  Check out his story at  Teachers can access resources provided at the institute here.  The Department plans to offer the institute each year, so watch for more information about next year’s institute. 

Laws and Regulations

281--Iowa Administrative Code 12.5(3) describes social studies instruction at grade levels 1-12.


Requirements for Teaching Endorsements in Social Studies

In Iowa teacher licensure is handled by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.


The Iowa Core in Social Studies

The Iowa Core provides local school districts and nonpublic schools a guide to delivering instruction based on consistent, challenging and meaningful content to students.


Statewide Social Studies Leadership Team


Constitution Day

United States Constitution Day is September 17 of each year. Congress enacted legislation requiring all public schools to set aside one day during the week of September 17 to teach all students about the U.S. Constitution and about citizenship.

Consult these resources for ideas:

United States Senate Youth Program

A program, sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, designed to give young Americans a working knowledge of American political life.


Social Studies Update Newsletter

The Social Studies Update is a monthly newsletter for Social Studies educators. To receive this newsletter in your email inbox, send an email requesting your free subscription to


Other Social Studies Resources

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on October 09, 2015 at 11:30pm.