The University of Notre Dame has launched the Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government, a new hub of scholarship and education that strives to be a national focal point on Catholicism, constitutional government, and liberal democracy.
The new center seeks to cultivate thoughtful and educated citizens by supporting scholarship and education concerning the ideas and institutions of constitutional government. It will house the existing Potenziani Program in Constitutional Studies — an undergraduate minor and Ph.D. concentration with an emphasis on political and civic leadership — as well as the Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life, which will now include a constitutionalism and Catholicism initiative.
An additional new initiative on constitutional government, free society, and the common good will examine normative and ethical questions of philosophical political economy.
“The Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government will help make Notre Dame the nation’s leader for scholarship on the principles of constitutionalism and thoughtful engagement of what it means to be a citizen in the modern world,” said Vincent Phillip Munoz, the founding director of the center, the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science, and a concurrent associate professor of law.
The center plans to expand its focus on political leadership by bringing more national political figures to campus and hosting regular events in Washington, D.C., especially with established and aspiring Catholic politicians.
Housed in the College of Arts and Letters, the center will build connections with the Mendoza College of Business and The Law School through joint faculty appointments and other programming. It will also offer additional support for faculty research, host visiting scholars, and plan conferences.
"The formation of this new center will further advance our research strength in this area and enhance the quality of our graduate and undergraduate education," said Sarah A. Mustillo, the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. "The study of constitutional government offers tremendous opportunity to strengthen existing connections and form new ones across the disciplines and across the University — partnerships that will further our understanding of citizenship in a modern democracy."
The minor in constitutional studies, created in 2012, is now one of the largest in Arts & Letters and has also proven popular among Mendoza students, as it offers them academic experience in the responsibilities, principles, and practices of constitutional citizenship that enhance their business training.
The new initiative on constitutionalism and Catholicism will tackle issues related to Catholic social thought and constitutional democracy, while an initiative on constitutional government, free Society, and the common good will consider issues such as the morality of markets or how the impact of a free economy on society.
The center's work is supported by grants from the Menard family, the Napa Institute, the Charles Koch Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, Denis P. Burke ’73, Frank Potenziani ’67 and the M & T Foundation, and Bill and Jody Orosz, parents of a 2003 Notre Dame graduate.
“Through cultivating research and teaching excellence on constitutionalism and Catholicism,” Munoz said, “we will equip and empower a new generation to secure our God-given natural rights and liberties, exercise responsible self-government, and pursue the common good.”
“Through cultivating research and teaching excellence on constitutionalism and Catholicism, we will equip and empower a new generation to secure our God-given natural rights and liberties, exercise responsible self-government, and pursue the common good.”