• moral education;
  • social studies;
  • justice;
  • human rights;
  • high school


Many competing ideas exist around teaching ‘standard’ high school social studies subjects such as history, government, geography, and economics. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of social studies teaching and learning as a moral activity. I first propose that current high school curriculum standards in the United States often fail in focusing on the kinds of sustained discourse and ideas necessary for students to develop an awareness and commitment to justice in a pluralistic society. I then make the argument that understanding social studies as an inherently moral activity creates a space for transformative and meaningful learning to occur. Lastly, I contend that public schools are inextricably linked to understanding and creating elements of a just society and as such, hold equal potential to both support and severely hinder its development.