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Political and Constitutional Theory for Citizens

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A three-week institute for twenty-five school teachers on the principles of American constitutionalism.

This institute seeks to "cultivate in the nation's teachers a capacity for reflection and analysis focused on the fundamental principles of the American constitutional order." To that end, the participants, under the leadership of academic director William Harris (University of Pennsylvania), investigate the underlying reasons for America's constitutional arrangements. The program is divided into four segments: political theory and the nature of political order, constitutional theory and the design of a good polity, democratic theory and the character of self-government, and interpretive theory and constitutional meaning. The participants read important works of Western political philosophy by Aristotle, Cicero, Hobbes, and Locke; key Federalist and Anti-federalist writings from the American founding; pivotal U.S. Supreme Court cases; secondary studies by Charles McIlwain, Gordon Wood, Thomas Kuhn, John Hart Ely, Edward Corwin, and Sanford Levinson; the National Standards for Civics and Government; and various publications by the Center for Civic Education (CCE). Dr. Harris is assisted by three master teachers; he has also invited constitutional scholars Jeffrey Tulis (University of Texas-Austin), Noah Pickus (Duke University), and Susan Leeson (Oregon Supreme Court) to speak to the institute. The group participates in lecture/discussion sessions and curricular discussions; the participants are encouraged to conduct in-service sessions in their home areas with support from the CCE's "We the People" network.

Faculty: Sue Leeson, Noah Pickus, Jeffrey Tulis

Dates: July 6–27 (3 weeks)
Director(s): William Harris II, University of Pennsylvania, and John Hale, Center for Civic Education
Grantee Institutions: Center for Civic Education
Location: Los Angeles, CA

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.