American Federalism

October 23-25, 2015 

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Application Opens: July 27, 2015

Application Deadline: September 30, 2015

Federalism is one of the animating themes in American Constitutional history and politics. Born of compromise at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, it was the primary focus of the debate surrounding the ratification of the Constitution. The debate continued during the formative years of the Republic. The Civil War was, in part, a fight over the relationship of the national government and the states. The civil rights movement of the mid twentieth century has been described as a struggle between those seeking equal rights and those seeking to protect "states' rights." The debate over the proper balance of power between Washington and the states continues to this day. 

This seminar will explore the roots of that debate, how it has shaped American politics and history, and why the political principle of federalism still matters. For many, a respect for the authority of the states is essential to the maintenance of freedom and self-government. For others, states have come to be viewed primarily as administrative units of the national government. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between. Understanding federalism can help us better understand many contemporary political disputes and perhaps provide some insights into how to resolve them. 

Seminar Scholar

Eugene Hickok taught political science and law at Dickinson College and the Dickinson School of Law for many years before entering public service. An award-winning teacher, he has published numerous books and articles on topics related to the Constitution, the presidency, congress, and the courts. His commentary has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Education Week. He served as Pennsylvania's Secretary of Education under Governor Tom Ridge and the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush. His most recent publications are Why States? The Challenge of Freedom and Schoolhouse of Cards