What Is a Good Citizen? Define Good Citizenship and Civic Virtue

9, 10, 11, 12

As a group we identify a basic textbook definition of good citizenship, including the classic Roman concept of civic virtue (putting the common good above individual need).

PrintOne 45 Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • describe a good citizen as a person of civic virtue.

A chapter that includes a discussion of citizenship from any basic high school textbook. 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write the term "good citizen" on the board. Partners work for two or three minutes to come up with a list of characteristics of good citizens. Ask partners to report share with the whole group on the characteristics they identified.

  2. Provide this background: Ideas about citizenship have been debated and discussed for many centuries and many different cultures and societies have influenced these ideas. Some of the earliest ideas came from the Roman Republic where the leaders believed that all citizens must have civic virtue. They believed that citizens with civic virtue put the common good above their own individual needs.

  3. Assign a text book chapter (or other reading selection) that describes "citizenship" and have readers make a list of  at least four words and phrases that are associated with good citizenship (i.e., civic virtue, responsibility, respect, common good, community). This vocabulary search may be completed as homework.

  4. Discuss the words collected and what it looks like to put the common good above individual needs. Work as a group to form a 1-2 sentence definition of good citizenship everyone can agree on. 

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss civic virtue and its role in democracy.