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Content Literacy for the 21st Century: Excavation, Elevation, and Relational Cosmopolitanism in the Classroom


  • James S. Damico,

  • Mark Baildon


This article makes the a case for conceptualizing content literacy, especially in social studies, as inquiry-based social practices for understanding and addressing complex, multifaceted problems. Two core practices especially needed for a Web-dominated 21st century are then described—excavation and elevation. Next, these two practices are applied to the complex, multifaceted problem of climate change to suggest ways teachers and students can use excavation and elevation with two Web texts about climate change. This leads to a model for framing, understanding, teaching, and learning content in 21st-century schools: relational cosmopolitanism in the classroom. The article concludes with attention to the ways that this model could frame a focus on climate change in middle school, secondary school, and university level classrooms.