Ackerman Center hosts 16th annual Constitution Day

Event to be held in Purdue Memorial Union on September 17

Purdue University’s James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship is hosting the 16th annual Constitution Day at the Purdue Memorial Union from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on September 17, 2021.

Constitution Day is a celebration of the signing of the U.S. Constitution by thirty-nine of the 55 Delegates to the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787. In 2004, Congress passed a law designating Sept. 17 as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.” The law requires that, “each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program” on the Constitution annually on that date.

 The date is also designated Citizenship Day to focus on the rights and responsibilities of citizens under the Constitution. At Purdue University, this event strives to educate students and community members about the Constitution and citizenship both historically and as they apply to today’s challenges.

“This year’s event is especially meaningful. Constitution Day 2021 is the third approved Civics Literacy Proficiency event in Purdue’s newly adopted Civics Literacy graduation requirement for all incoming undergraduate students,” said Dr. Phillip VanFossen, Director of the Ackerman Center and Ackerman Distinguished Professor of Social Studies Education in the College of Education. “That means students who choose the civic events pathway to fulfill their Civic Literacy Proficiency requirement will be able to count Constitution Day as their first civics event.”

The Civics Literacy Proficiency program was created with the goal of enriching the educational experiences of Purdue students to foster a more knowledgeable and engaged student body in the workforce and beyond. The program is a graduation requirement for all undergraduate students beginning in fall 2021. VanFossen was appointed by Provost Jay Akridge to a faculty team—with Jay McCann (political science) and Robert Browning (Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement) to develop the then-voluntary Civic Literacy Proficiency, which was later mandated by the Purdue Board of Trustees. 

Constitution Day will offer many different activities to celebrate the Constitution and develop civic literacy. Organizers have developed online Kahoot quizzes that draw sample questions from the required Purdue Test of Civic Knowledge. In addition, Purdue Libraries will have a display on “Freedom of Speech,” and other games and displays will focus on the Bill of Rights and the Preamble. The Provost’s Office will have a table with take-away information regarding the new Civics Literacy Proficiency (CLP) program and the Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement will be promoting their podcast series specially developed as one of the optional CLP pathways. 

The highlight of Constitution Day, however, is a Jeopardy-style gameshow to test the knowledge of student participants about the Constitution and its history. The Celebrity Quiz Off at 12:30 pm will include influential members of our community such as West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, Lafayette Fire Chief Doyle, Indiana State Representatives Sheila Klinker and Chris Campbell, Dean Marchand-Martella from the College of Education, Judge Mike Morrissey, and the President of Purdue Student Government. A Student Quiz Off will be held at 11:30 am.

Along with all these activities, there will be giveaways including Pocket Constitutions and Constitution Day pins, and refreshments such as prepackaged cookies and brownies and self-serve coffee and water.

The James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship has programs and resources for K-12 and community educators to implement powerful citizenship education that promotes active involvement in schools and communities. Learn more at:

Watch video about the Purdue University Constitution Day 2020 on YouTube:

Source: Dr. Phillip VanFossen,, 765-494-2367

Writer: Kathryn Cockerill,