The Lou Frey Institute: Past, Present and Future

The Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at UCF has a goal to promote the development of enlightened,LFI Symposium_edited responsible and actively engaged citizens. Over the past ten years the Institute has been doing an outstanding job adhering to that mission statement through a variety of programs, research and advocacy. The Institute grew out of Congressman Lou Frey’s interest in providing civic learning opportunities for young people, and is recognized throughout the nation for its success in this effort.

The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship

On a daily basis, the Lou Frey Institute works with many organizations that share a commitment to strengthening the civic health of our communities, state, and nation. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is a result of a partnership between the Institute and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida. The Center grew from a 2006 bipartisan effort, launched by Congressman Lou Frey and Senator Bob Graham, to improve civic education in Florida. Because of this initiative, and the passage of the Sandra Day O’Connor act in 2010, the state’s Social Studies standards and benchmarks have been revised and strengthened.

All K-12 work is articulated through the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and it took almost a year to develop the Teaching Middle School Civics program. The program offers a curriculum of materials that supports a full year of instruction, professional development and training for teachers in middle school civics and is used by teachers all over the state.

Currently in progress, with the help of Pinellas County schools, is a new elementary civics initiative for grades three through five. Much like the Teaching Middle School Civics program, the elementary civics initiative will offer curriculum materials, professional development and training for teachers.


The Lou Frey Institute hosts two symposiums a year attracting between 400 and 600 high school students from all over the state of Florida. The symposium is a daylong event focusing on public policy issues that the nation currently faces. Students hear presentations from policy experts, academics, and elected leaders; having the opportunity to interact and learn from them directly. The symposiums are live-streamed and open to anyone who is interested. This year the 22nd fall symposium will be held on Sept. 30, 2013 in cooperation with the National Center for Simulation to discuss simulation technology and its role in Florida. It will also feature presentations from Congressman John Mica and Senator Bill Nelson.

What’s In Store for the Future?

The Lou Frey Institute has some exciting new projects in the making. Technology engagement is a new initiative nationwide and the Institute is wasting no time participating in this effort. An example of this new technology is smart phone applications where citizens can contact their local governments about an issue, then have the ability to follow-up and see the progress of the issue being solved. The idea is to use technology to remove barriers so that citizens may communicate directly with their local government. Beginning in the fall, the Lou Frey Institute will begin engaging with universities and local governments in a joint effort to create such technology in order to make it easier for citizens to participate in local government and communities.

Future goals also include leveraging simulation or simulated experiences as a way for students to develop skills needed to be effective and engaged citizens. One example is Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics, a web-based education project designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in U.S. democracy.

When the Director of The Lou Frey Institute, Doug Dobson, spoke about this future project he said, “Senator Graham says Civics is not a spectator sport and to really know how it works you need to experience it. I believe we will be able to move forward and make the plan for simulated civics education possible.”

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