The Center for Constitutional Studies (CCS) at Utah Valley University was established in September 2011. The Center is a nonpartisan academic institute that promotes the instruction, study, and research of constitutionalism. We employ conferences, university curriculum, faculty scholarship, a robust research agenda, strategic partnerships, and K-12 initiatives to engage students, scholars, educators, leaders, and the public on important constitutional issues found at the intersection of political thought, public policy, religion, law, history, education, and economic. The Center prepares citizens with the broad understanding of thought and practices critical to the perpetuation of constitutional government, ordered liberty, and the rule of law.

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THE PEDIMENT AND FIVE COLUMNS OF CCS

At the heart of our mission is the civil, nonpartisan promotion of constitutional literacy within our local, state, and national communities. We pursue this end by focusing on five areas: Educational Programs, Federalism, The Quill Project, Equal Liberty & the Constitutional Rule of Law, and Property & Free Markets. Inspired by the Athenian roots of western government, we visualize each area of focus as a column supporting the pediment of constitutional literacy.

Educational Programs

Since the inception of CCS, education has been at the core of its every endeavor. What began with a Constitutional Studies Minor and community-focused conferences, is developing into a full suite of educational programs. The CCS K-12 constitutional literacy initiative brings hundreds of high school students to campus each year for constitutional conferences. The initiative also led to the launch of the CCS Constitutional Literacy Institute, which enhances the constitutional knowledge and pedagogy of secondary teachers. In 2021, CCS will begin hosting annual conferences to train both educators and state legislators on principles and applications of American federalism. CCS is also developing a constitutional studies graduate degree program for academics and educators.

Quill Project

Since 2016, CCS has worked with Dr. Nicholas Cole of the University of Oxford's Pembroke College on the Quill Project, a groundbreaking software platform developed by Dr. Cole to recreate digitally the proceedings of constitutional conventions and legislative debates. CCS, now a formal strategic partner, has assisted with most aspects of the Quill Project, including student engagement in digitizing and analyzing materials relevant to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments, and state constitutional conventions for Utah, Wyoming, Illinois, Idaho, and Washington. Students researchers also use the Quill Project drafting papers for publication in academic journals. CCS and Dr. Cole are working to expand use of the Quill Project in the law and in K-12 classrooms.

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American Federalism

The Federalism Initiative at CCS exists to help educators, state leaders, and citizens better understand and appreciate the role and history of American federalism in the overall structure of the United States Constitution. The American federal-state relationship is one of the unique and essential innovations of the U.S. Constitution, and it is essential for the proper functioning of government at every level. Principles of federalism and intergovernmental relations are not well understood by voters or even some elected officials, however. The Federalism Index Project at Utah Valley University is the first attempt to both collect the information needed to understand key federal-state dynamics and also curate that information in a manner that is readily understood and usable by engaged citizens.

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Property and Free Markets

CCS maintains that a working knowledge of the economic consequences of the U.S. Constitution is an essential component of constitutional literacy. Educational efforts in this area are rewarded by a greater understanding of both the promises and the potential pitfalls of private property, free markets, and commercial civilization. As the role of free markets is scrutinized, it is imperative that their connection to the right of property, which is part of the constitutional rule of law, be more clearly defined and understood. James Madison declared that we have rights in property and property in rights, and that those rights are interdependent. Under that premise, CCS explores the appropriate balance between the right of property, free markets, and the extent to which regulation of the market is warranted in a free society.

Equal Liberty and Rule of Law

The constitutional rule of law is the bulwark of a free society. It provides for equality under the law, whereby all are treated equally. The First Amendment protects five interdependent rights beginning with the right of religious conscience. CCS hosts an annual Constitution Week Conference and an annual First Amendment Conference and promotes scholarship on constitutionalism, religious liberty and other First Amendment freedoms. An understanding of the constitutional rule of law and the equal liberties secured by the law is central to constitutional literacy.