Mission and Principles
Notre Dame’s Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government seeks to cultivate thoughtful and educated citizens by supporting scholarship and education concerning the ideas and institutions of constitutional government.
The Center aims to explore the fundamental principles and practices of a free society so that citizens and civic leaders are equipped to secure our God-given natural rights, exercise the responsibilities of self-government, and pursue the common good.
The Center aspires to further Notre Dame’s Catholic character and mission by providing a forum where, through free inquiry and reasoned discussion, the Catholic intellectual tradition is brought to bear on enduring and contemporary questions concerning a just constitutional order.
Among its activities, the Center supports Notre Dame’s undergraduate minor and Ph.D. subfield in Constitutional Studies, sponsors research by Notre Dame faculty and visiting fellows, partners with Notre Dame’s professional schools and university press, and offers a robust program of lectures, debates, and conferences for the Notre Dame community and the general public.
Potenziani Minor in Constitutional Studies
Constitutional Studies minors explore fundamental questions concerning justice, the rule of law, and human flourishing. What is a just regime? Who ought to rule? What are the proper relationships between church and state and religion and politics, and how do these relationships reflect the more basic relationship between faith and reason? What are the moral, social, and political conditions necessary to sustain America’s experiment in constitutional government?
The Center supports fellowships for Notre Dame undergraduates, Ph.D. students, faculty, and visiting scholars. Our Menard Family Tocqueville Fellowship is designed to cultivate a spirit and ethic of citizenship among a select group of Notre Dame undergraduates. The fellowship identifies, educates, and mentors future leaders of industry, public affairs, and the Church. We offer fellowships for Ph.D. students and faculty, including visiting scholars, to foster research and teaching on citizenship, constitutionalism, and other themes consistent with the Center's mission.
Lectures and Debates
The Center hosts a robust program of lectures, debates, seminars, and conferences on and off campus, including the biannual Tocqueville Lecture and Napa Institute Forum events. Invited speakers regularly include judges, politicians, journalists, and distinguished academics. Information on upcoming events can be found here. Our extensive library of recorded lectures, debates, and conversations are available to view or listen via podcast.
The Center partners with the University of Notre Dame Press to publish excellent scholarship on the ideas and institutions of constitutional government.
Launched in 2021, the Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government was founded to unite the Tocqueville Program for Religion in Public Life and the Program in Constitutional Studies. The Tocqueville Program, founded in 2009, seeks to nurture informed conversation, learning and scholarship about the fundamental principles of a decent and just political regime with a particular focus on religious liberty. The Program in Constitutional Studies was founded in 2012 with the purpose of educating Notre Dame students in the enduring principles of constitutional government and ideas and institutions of a free society. Both programs will continue to exist as integral initiatives within the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government.