To synthesize research on inquiry learning, we integrate advances in theory, instructional design, and technology. We illustrate how inquiry instruction can exploit the multiple, often conflicting ideas that students have about personal, societal, and environmental dilemmas and promote coherent arguments about economic disparity or health decision-making. We show how technologies such as natural language processing, interactive simulations, games, collaborative tools, and personalized guidance can support students to become autonomous learners. We discuss how these technologies can capture class performance and inform teachers of student progress. We highlight autonomous learning from (a) student-initiated investigations of thorny, contemporary problems using modeling and visualization tools, (b) design projects featuring analysis of alternatives, testing prototypes, and iteratively refining solutions in complex disciplines, and (c) personalized guidance that encourages gathering evidence from multiple sources and refining ideas. We argue that autonomous inquiry capabilities empower all citizens to take charge of their lives.