From June 5–8, 2012, forty-two teachers from around the state gathered on The University of Texas at Brownsville campus for "Shaping the American Republic to 1877," an institute examining significant events and themes in U.S. history from the colonial era through Reconstruction.

The Brownsville institute faculty included Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jack Rakove (Stanford University), Daniel Feller (University of Tennessee), Charles Flanagan (National Archives), Kenneth Stevens (Texas Christian University), Carey Latimore (Trinity University), and Stacy Fuller (Amon Carter Museum), as well as UT Brownsville scholars Manuel F. Medrano, Thomas Britten, Hariett Denise Joseph, Anthony Knopp, James Mills, Philip Samponaro, Amanda Taylor-Montoya, and Michael Van Wagenen.

As in past years, institutes emphasized close interaction with scholars, the examination of primary sources, and the development of effective pedagogical strategies and engaging assignments and activities. The programs were designed ultimately to enhance teachers' mastery of the subjects they teach and to improve students' performance on state assessments.