Introducing Friends of the Institute

As a tribute to Senator Kennedy's 47-year career, gifts of $47 and up recognize you as a Friend of the Institute.

About the Institute

April 29, 2020

A pivot to virtual learning

By Amy Munslow

Four years ago, I was drawn to the Kennedy Institute’s unique brand of immersive education. I still remember watching my first SIM at the Institute on one of my first days on the job. A long-serving member of our staff presided in our nearly exact recreation of the Senate Chamber as newly minted senators (moments earlier, eighth graders from a nearby middle school) listened with interest and genuine engagement. They sat a little taller in their perfectly replicated senatorial desks as they leaned into their roles as members of the 113th United States Congress.

It was difficult for all of us at the Institute to say goodbye (for now) to our recreation of the Senate Chamber, the crown jewel of the Institute and the lens through which we teach about democracy. But as we adjusted to a new reality, we knew civic education would be more important than ever. What could the Institute do to support teachers and students in these challenging times?

Our whole staff rose to the occasion to develop online content and new virtual opportunities. Our Visitor Experience team started developing fun civics activities for families who were suddenly working, learning, and playing from home. Our Youth Programs team channeled the creative ideas of our Youth Action Committee into a guide for young people to get involved in environmental activism. Our Chamber Education team started working on ways to have engaging policy discussions online, starting with an issue investigation about fracking. The whole staff pitched in to work on new digital projects like the beautifully designed Seat at the Table website.

We know that one day we’ll be able to learn together at the Institute again. In the meantime, we are proud to be able to offer these new civics resources and hope that you’ll find them engaging and useful. Stay tuned as we continue to develop more online offerings and please continue to reach out if you have an idea, suggestion, or even a pipe dream for civic education in the time of COVID-19.

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization in Boston envisioned by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Through a range of exhibits, interactive educational offerings, and topical programs, the Institute engages students and visitors in a conversation about the essential role each person plays in our democracy and in our society.