Baylor’s iEngage Summer Civics Institute to be Honored with the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education

May 10, 2022

Baylor School of Education faculty Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., will receive the award in July in Chicago

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WILLIAMBURG, Virginia (May 10, 2022) – The iEngage Summer Civics Institute at Baylor University has been named the 2022 recipient of the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education.

This annual award, presented by the National Center for State Courts, honors an organization, court, program or individual who has promoted, inspired, improved or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system. The award will be presented in late July in Chicago.

Founded in 2013, the Baylor iEngage Summer Civics Institute is a free, five-day civics camp designed to help middle school students learn how to make a difference in their schools, neighborhoods and communities. Funded by the Hatton W. Sumners Foundation and Baylor University, the program is led by Baylor School of Education faculty members Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., The Conwell G. Strickland Endowed Chair, associate professor and chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D., associate professor of curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in social studies education.

“The iEngage team embraces their responsibility to provide high-quality civic education to students and educators across various communities and has even bigger plans, including a high school internship program,” wrote Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht in his nomination letter. “I am so proud that Texas lays claim to this innovative and effective program, and I am hopeful that the model will expand to other states in time.”

The 2022 award marks the 12th year NCSC has presented the O’Connor Award to honor the retired justice’s longstanding commitment to improving civics education. Following her service on the bench, Justice O’Connor became a tireless advocate of civics education and founded the iCivics program to inspire students to become active in their communities.

Baylor’s week-long iEngage camp – which will be held Aug. 1-5, 2022 – focuses on developing young people’s civic and political competence and strengthening their community and political engagement through inquiry-based civics projects in which they research and act upon local community issues.

Focused on middle school youth, iEngage teaches students about the structure of government, what it means to be an active and engaged citizen in their community and how they can work to make a change even as a young person. Campers are assigned to small groups based on grade level and work together to research and strategize about how to address a local issue of concern. Baylor students studying education serve as the counselors for each of these small groups.

Additional activities include a field trip to a legislative library to explore primary source artifacts, simulations of effective communication and deliberation hosted by the Baylor Law School, interfaces with local civic and political leaders, and playing iCivics games. To date, the Baylor iEngage program has reached more than 1,500 students, 40 teachers and 100 college students.

The impact of iEngage is well documented by research conducted and published in peer-reviewed journals by Baylor faculty.

“In addition, we see student impact through media coverage, including stories of campers who have gone on to organize community projects on their own, as well as through the many letters of appreciation we receive from campers, parent, and teachers,” Blevins said.

In 2014, Blevins and LeCompte completed the first independent research study of iCivics effectiveness on students’ civic knowledge and dispositions, finding positive results in students’ content knowledge, engagement and inclination to engage in civic-minded practices. The study – “Civics Education Goes Digital” – was published in The Journal of Social Studies Research.

Two years earlier, the Baylor researchers had the honor of presenting their preliminary findings to Justice O’Connor during a community symposium in Waco. Inspired by Justice O’Connor and iCivics, Blevins and LeCompte continue their work in civics education at Baylor University, including the creation of the iEngage Summer Civics Institute.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


For more than 100 years, Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, leaders in K12 and higher education, psychologists, professors, researchers, and more. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice. Visit to learn more.