Torchbearers of Liberty

Project Overview

This report was published by the Jubilee Centre, in partnership with the National Liberty Museum (NLM), and was launched at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia on 15th February 2016. The report presents the findings from the collaborative Torchbearers of Liberty project, and makes recommendations based on the research. The aim of the project was to examine the NLM’s approach to character and civic education through the lens of liberty. It is hoped this research will lead the way for further inquiry into liberty as a moral construct, and educational interventions aimed at cultivating liberty and its supporting virtues.

Summary of Key Findings

  • Students who participated in the NLM’s interventions and in particular the 10-lesson YHOP curriculum, showed increased knowledge of liberty and of the pillar virtues that support it. The ‘YHOP cohort’ showed clear evidence of increasing complexity in their conceptual understanding of liberty as a direct result of their participation in the program. Furthermore, YHOP participants consistently evidenced greater retention of all five pillar virtues associated with liberty over the duration of the intervention, lasting at least three months after their involvement with the program ended.
  • The NLM’s interventions help young people to become more ‘virtue literate.’ Virtue literacy is defined as the knowledge, understanding and application of virtue language (Arthur, Harrison and Davison, 2015, p. 178).
  • Students who participated in the NLM’s interventions and YHOP in particular, showed increased action-oriented civic and social engagement, identifying a number of social issues, upon which to focus their community projects. The NLM’s interventions therefore motivate young people to improve on behaviours related to liberty and its pillar virtues.
  • With regard to attitudes and reasoning about liberty, participants in the YHOP cohort were able to offer more reasons for or against a course of action in a moral dilemma than controls. Three months after the intervention, YHOP participants, relative to controls, showed greater increases in references to pillar virtues and pertinent features of liberty in their moral evaluations.