Mission and History

CALIS is proud to be part of a USC tradition of leadership and service to pre-collegiate education. In our goal to help transform social science teaching, grades 6-12, our mission is to adapt university research and theories (i.e. new knowledge and analytical frameworks) to serve public education. The guiding principle for all CALIS efforts is to connect USC—as a world-class university resource— to support the civic mission of schools. 

Universities are a source of new knowledge and effective frames for analysis -- which are critical to advancing excellence and innovation in teaching and learning. Programs bring together USC faculty and students with high school faculty and students in annual teacher seminars and student conferences, and in the year-round work of undergraduate teams in local classrooms. This synergy is used to create, review, pilot and hone materials that are then made available online and promoted by the director and partner teachers at professional conferences across the nation.

  • CALIS was established in July 2000

    to conduct teacher training and USC student outreach to Los Angeles area schools. We served as a state resource center at USC for the California International Studies Poject and expanded the Teaching International Relations Program (TIRP), a service-learning opportunity for USC students to team-teach in local high school classrooms.

  • In 2001, we conducted

    our first High School Leadership Conference.  Up to 240 high school students form teams representing different actors in a regional conflict or global challenge.  USC student mentors are partnered with teams for the day's negotiation rounds.

  • In 2002, we launched

    the Activities Database to support TIRP volunteers.  Online access to materials made outreach lesson planning easier and better!  The database has since become a strategic service to our partner teachers and offers resources to everyone who shares our vision.

  • In 2005, CALIS received national recognition

    from the Goldman Sachs Foundation Prizes for Excellence in International Education. Among a pool of 100 university programs nominated in the Higher Education category, CALIS was selected as one of the top three outreach programs in the United States.

  • In 2006, we launched

    the High School Case Teaching Initiative and received permission from National Public Radio to develop "case customized transcripts" for use in our pilot project. Case teaching has since become the basis of our curriculum development projects that apply analytical tools for problem-based learning.

  • In 2007, we began promotion

    of our resources and strategies at the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference and at our state conference for CCSS.

  • In 2008, we incorporated

    Marketplace from American Public Media as a new source for case teaching in Government and Economics.

  • In 2009, we launched

    the Four Worlds of History for middle school world history. This analytical model enables young students to explore the relevance of ancient and medieval times to present day issues and to their personal lives.

  • In 2010, we launched

    the Teaching Ethics Program (TEP) that is modeled after the Teaching International Relations Program (TIRP). In our formal collaboration with a partner school, we conducted a Mock CST that demonstrated significant impact on student achievement.

  • In 2011, state testing verified impact

    of the Four Worlds of History on student achievement. Partner teachers reported that thier students had significant gains in the CST for English and History.  Workshops and materials were expanded across the middle school history program to include 8th grade US History.

  • And in 2012 ...

    In our local service mission--our placement of USC volunteers in Los Angeles area high schools continues to expand to new teachers at new schools.

    ...In our global service mission--our online database collection of classroom materials continues to grow along with the number of teachers beyond LA that are using resources and strategies.

    ...In our strategic plan to achieve a new paradigm in teaching youth, we have new collaborations and new projects. ------

    Stay tuned...