Skip to Main Content

The Great Society

55 min

Guiding Questions

  • What was the purpose of the Great Society?
  • How did the civil rights movement shape the scope of the plan?
  • What effect did it have on education, consumer protection, and infrastructure of the nation?


  • Students will gain an understanding of the purposes of the Great Society.
  • Students will explore laws passed to improve cities, protect the countryside, and improve education.
  • Students will consider the debate regarding the short and long term results of the plan.

  • Civil Rights
  • Affirmative Action
  • Progressive
  • Poverty
  • Medicare

Read The Great Society Essay for an overview of the goals and debates of LBJ’s Great Society.

Read Handout A: Excerpts from “The Great Society” Speech by Lyndon Johnson (1964) and discuss the critical thinking questions as a class.

Have students use Handout B: Great Society Laws and Programs to select a Great Society program for further research. Have students research their selected law or program using reliable online resources.

Ask several students to share what they learned about the law they considered. For each law, ask the class:

  1. What aspect of the three different goals of the Great Society did this law address?
  2. Cite a constitutional reference that supports the law and discuss whether the law was constitutional.

Have students use the Handout B: Great Society Laws and Programs to research two more laws from the other two goals that were not addressed in the classwork selection.

Complete the Unit 6 Civics Connection: The Role of Government According to the Founders and the Progressives Lesson from Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Student Handouts

Next Lesson

Modern Debates on Rights

Related Resources