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Discussion Guides

A DEMOCRACY is only as effective as its citizens, which is why civic education is essential to preserving our democracy.  Only by encouraging people to think about what it means to be an American, and how our country works, will our country continue to thrive in the future.

Hosting discussions on what are and are not "American values"  is a great way to approach civic education.  We define "American values" as exemplary behaviors or character traits that have long been valued as ideal for government and citizenship in the United States.

"American values" can be contrasted with behaviors or activities that are not values, but are frequently found in American culture or history.  Such behaviors might be "habits" but fall short of (and at times may be directly contrary to) the ideal.  As they are invited to distinguish between values and habits, and think about the characteristics of each, discussion group members will be able to think about what they appreciate most about the United States and to practice dialogue and other skills that promote effective citizenship.

We currently have seven discussion guides to help facilitate such dialogues.  Five relate to attributes that can be considered American values, and two relate to behaviors that are not.  Each of the guides can be accessed below, and they are also available for purchase in printed or electronic form.  We also publish guide updates from time to time and these follow the list of discussion guides.  Contact us with ideas, suggestions, or other comments!

Discussion Guides

. . . IS an American Value®

Accountability . . . IS an American Value®

Free Speech . . . IS an American Value®

Interdependence . . . IS an American Value®

Public Education . . . IS an American Value®

Tolerance . . . IS an American Value®


. . . is NOT an American Value®

Hate . . . is NOT an American Value®

Mendacity . . . is NOT an American Value®


Guide Updates

Everyday, news and events reflect the values (or non-values) discussed in our guides. One of the primary goals of our guides is to encourage our readers to embrace the task of looking at the news and deciding how contemporary events reflect our American values and the history of our country. From time to time, we will also include our own updates for our guides--recent news and a few study questions--that may lend to further discussion within your dialogue groups. Read more.

Order a Guide

You can see the guides free online or you can support the American Values Are...® project and buy a guide. For information about ordering our guides, please click here. All proceeds go to the development of future guides and this website!


American Values Are, LLC has an exciting Sponsor-A-Guidetm program. Get more information here.