Civics Education: So, you think you know your government?

How much do you know about your own government? As part of a democracy, civics education is the ultimate tool on the path to becoming a more informed and active member in society.

In this noncredit, ten-week program, you will gain firsthand knowledge from members of the judicial branch about our constitution, the court system, immigration, criminal and civil cases, and many more aspects of our government that every citizen should know. Designed by Federal Judges Marjorie O. "Midge" Rendell and Cynthia M. Rufe, co-chairs of the Third Circuit Courts and Community Committee, a rotation of judges will lead the weekly classes and highlight a specialized field of the government. Not for those who want a straight lecture, this curriculum will present information about the government through a highly accessible, engaging and interactive forum. After successfully finishing the course, students will receive a certificate of completion.

How to Register

Register online. Hurry, registration is limited to 100 participants. There is a $50 fee for the entire 10-week program. Please note that you may not use financial aid as payment for this program.


Community College of Philadelphia
Center for Business and Industry
18th and Callowhill streets, Room C2-28
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Class Schedule 

Classes will take place every Monday from 6 to 6:50 p.m.


Class Curriculum

September 16 

Introduction: Judge Marjorie O. "Midge" Rendell

Gain an overview of the government's framework. This introduction will include discussion about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, branches of the government and separation of powers.

September 23

Courts: Judge Cheryl Krause and Judge Susan Gantman.

What is the difference between state and federal courts? Explore their varying levels and roles, judicial independence, stare decisis or precedent, and rule of law.

September 30 Holiday: No Class
October 7

Civil CaseJudge Gene E. K. Pratter and an attorney of her choice

Gain an understanding of how, why and when citizens file lawsuits against one another through a discrimination case study.

October 14 Holiday: No Class
October 21

Criminal Law: Judge Theodore McKee and Judge Teresa Sarmina

When can the government bring a case up against a defendant? Learn about criminal law through a comprehensive look at key cases and principles as well as the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

October 28      

ImmigrationJudge Restrepo

Immigration has consistently been a hot-button issue in this country. In this unit, learn about the history of immigration, examine case studies and discover the paths to citizenship.

November 4    

Voting: Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith and Judge Michael Baylson

Voting is one of our fundamental rights as citizens of the United States of America. Take a deep dive into the parameters of voting rights, the Electoral College and gerrymandering.

November 11     Holiday: No Class
November 18  

Administrative and Lower Courts: Chief Magistrate Judge Caracappa, Magistrate Judge Wells and Magistrate Judge Lloret

Learn about administrative law and cases dealing with the exercise of public power. In addition, examine the roles and responsibilities of the lower courts and how cases move through the upper tier courts.

November 25

Civil DiscourseJudge Cynthia M. Rufe and Judge Lawrence Stengel (ret.)

How do we engage in conversation with others about the state of our country? Learn about the practice of respectful dialogue to enhance the understanding of an issue.

December 2    

Civil RightsJudge Gerald McHugh

Ratified in 1868, the 14th amendment prohibits a state to "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In this section, you will review laws prohibiting discrimination as a way to understand what due process and equal protection means within our legal system. 

December 9

Conclusion: Judge Marjorie O. "Midge" Rendell and Judge Cynthia M. Rufe

Wrapping up the last class, we will go over the topics and themes discussed throughout the course. Through this recapitulation, you will glean new insights and formulate ideas about our country and its systems.

Register for the Civics Education Program