Monday, May 15, 2017

Support Civic Education in America

“The Constitution is the guide, which I will never abandon.”
-- George Washington

In a Republic, civic education is the sine qua non, or indispensable ingredient to perpetuating our Constitutional form of government, the fruits of which are ordered liberty and felicity. Yet, it goes without saying that civic education is on the decline in America. Numerous studies and articles have focused on this deterioration in basic knowledge of the history and roots of our nation’s founding and source documents among students and citizens alike.  Most would agree that if we are to remain as a free society and continue to govern ourselves as an enlightened and responsible citizenry, we must devote greater resources and efforts to educating the rising generation.  There are many opportunities to become involved in this cause, extending from our own communities and local schools to higher education. Nowhere is this need more evident than at the college and university level, where in many circles American founding principles are often ignored, discarded, and even disdained in the curriculum and in public discourse. And, in places where there does exist a certain level of such education and acceptance in traditional American Heritage courses, frequently the offerings are limited and lack depth and substance in the areas of natural law principles (such as the writings of Locke & Sidney), the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and Washington’s Farewell Address, along with principles of the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

We invite you to take the opportunity to make a difference by contributing to and supporting the founding of the George Washington Center for Constitutional Studies to be located in the heart of central Virginia, adjacent to the campus of an established, religious-oriented, liberal arts college located in Buena Vista, just hours from the homes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison — Southern Virginia University.  Like the early colleges of the colonial period, this unique institution and regional culture represent a potential seedbed of study, thought, and influence with respect to the “general principles of liberty and rights of man in nature and society,” and the future leadership in our nation. (Note: The Center is not associated with SVU but is engaged in the process of seeking administrative and academic approvals to offer undergraduate credit courses).

The stated mission of the Center and its primary objectives are as follows:

“The George Washington Center for Constitutional Studies is a nonpartisan academic institute that promotes Civic Education, and the instruction, study, and ideological defense of the Constitution of the United States of America, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, using primary sources.”

“The Center offers classes and instruction on the Constitution, America’s founding documents, the lives and writings of the Founders, the Revolution and Founding of the American Republic, and will hold, sponsor or participate in events, conferences, seminars, workshops, symposia and related activities. It brings together students, teachers, scholars and citizens for consideration of constitutional principles, and issues relating to history, politics, and religion.”

The new Center will coordinate and continue teacher education with the Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute (WJMI), now in its tenth year in providing continuing education courses to U.S. Government and U.S. History teachers in Virginia (since 2007). 

Proposed Basic Classes to be offered by the Center to Students and Citizens:

Principles of the Constitution
Explore natural law principles of liberty, virtue, equality, and law through the original curriculum for the teaching the Constitution at the University of Virginia, set forth by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Board of Visitors (March 4, 1825). Key documents to be studied are Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, Sidney’s Discourses Concerning Government, the Declaration of Independence, Federalist Nos. 1, 10, 39, 51, 78 and 84, and Washington’s Farewell Address.

Lives & Writings of the Founding Fathers
The Constitution and principles of self-government in a free society are best comprehended and understood in the context of the personal histories and views of framers themselves. Explore the character and statesmanship of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, including their public service, political philosophy, diplomacy, contributions to American independence and the establishment of the Republic. Key documents that will be studied are selected letters and speeches, articles, pamphlets, autobiographies, Notes, the Federalist, Inaugural Addresses, and other original source documents.

Religion & the Founding of the American Republic
Explore the role of religion on the colonists and the War for Independence, its influence on the American Founding, the religious beliefs of the Founders, the effects of the Enlightenment, and the relationship between religion and a virtuous Republic.  Key documents to be studied are the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Proclamations of Thanksgiving and Fasting, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance, the First Amendment to the Constitution, and George Washington’s Letters to the Congregations.

Note: If and when approvals are received, other or additional classes may be offered in consultation with SVU and its faculty. Future hires may include an Associate Director for the Center and Assistant Professor that may divide time with the Department of Politics. The near term goal will be to supplement classes in Pre-Law, Politics, Leadership, and Philosophy, and later to establish a minor in Constitutional Studies.

Other:  Scholarships; field trips; a certificate of Constitutional Studies for completion of all three courses and a 3-day bus trip in Virginia to Mount Vernon, Montpelier, Monticello, & Ash Lawn.

We invite you to make a generous donation to the new George Washington Center for Constitutional Studies to be located in central Virginia. As a 501(c)3 non-profit educational and literary organization, your tax-deductible contribution will assist in promoting civic education and the teaching of the Constitution as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison envisioned at the University of Virginia in 1825. The objectives of the Center are to bring together students, teachers, scholars and citizens for consideration of Constitutional principles, the American Founding, and issues relating to history, politics and religious liberty.

Donate online at

We appreciate your consideration and support of our goals and mission.

No comments: