“You can’t just read it, you have to know it!”


(Out)Laws & Justice is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 11 to 16 discover their role in creating a just and civil society by examining the roots of violence and conflict-resolution skills to deal with disputes.

Through the (Out)Laws & Justice interdisciplinary history, English language arts and educational drama curriculum, the history of the West illuminates today’s culture and values. Students confront and compare the contested grounds of the frontier and the contested grounds where they live today, helping them explore their own lives in a meaningful way and understand their own pasts.

Through this dynamic process, we strive to improve literacy and develop critical thinking, the foundations of a just and civil society as well as the foundations of a well-lived life.

Students in (Out)Laws & Justice do not just attend history and language arts classes; they become part of the action. Taking a cue from the educational maxim that children learn better by doing, (Out)Laws & Justice integrates educational drama into history and language arts. Students act out historical situations and situations from their own lives, study primary source documents, and write and act in their own dramas.

They explore difficult issues, which motivates their critical-thinking, decision-making and social skills. They take responsibility for solving problems, defuse conflicts and investigate issues.

(Out)Laws & Justice students tell us they feel a new confidence in themselves. They make new friends. They build trusting relationships with their classmates. Many OLJ students say they are interested in history for the first time. In their plays they connect history to public policies and individual behavior, and to their own lives today.

Students emerge from (Out)Laws & Justice better equipped to make positive choices and take constructive action on their own behalf, and on behalf of the community.


  1. The (Out)Laws & Justice student work-textbook. Over sixty percent of the contents are 19th century primary-source documents. These standards-based narratives attract learners-even those with poor reading skills.
  2. The companion (Out)Laws & Justice Teacher’s Guide, written by David Vigilante and reviewed by Gary B. Nash, associate director and director respectively of the National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA. Each of the ten chapters is introduced with specific learning objectives, focus questions, historical and social science analysis skill standards, and historical background. The Theatre Residency Sequence Outline shows how to implement theatre and playwriting. An annotated bibliography is included.
  3. A resident theatre artist for each classroom. The teaching artist assists students to create their own dramas from what they learn in the classroom about history and themselves.
  4. (Out)Laws & Justice Professional Development Institute. A 5-day Institute, and in-class mentoring once monthly. Teachers learn how to document students’ learning and make both learning and teaching visible. The goal is to offer all students a rigorous and aesthetic curriculum that is culturally pertinent and linguistically responsive to their unique learning needs.
  5. (Out)Laws & Justice Process Drama Handbook for Teachers.

If you’re interested in teaching (Out)Laws & Justice in your school, please email Lisa Citron at admin@outlawsandjustice.org.

(Out)Laws & Justice operates under the fiscal sponsorship of City Lore,
a nonprofit 501(c)(3).