The Founding Era and Constitution – PLCY 702

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 05/30/2022

Course Description

The course explores the key actors, events and content of the American Founding period and provides an application of Biblical principles of statesmanship as discussed in PLCY 701. Special emphasis is placed on the religious, social economic and philosophical influences on U.S. constitutional design. Study will span the formative period from the granting of colonial charters to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and the early years of the republic. A combination of historical textbook(s), scholarly journals articles and primary documents will be examined.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


An understanding of the historical context and fundamental principles shaping U.S. constitutional design is an essential component of doctoral-level training in American public policy. Challenged by 20th century progressivism, American republican government and its core principles of limited government, divided powers, and free enterprise provide critical safeguards against tyranny. This course examines the Founders’ robust defense of the federal republic and core biblical truths concerning human nature, statesmanship, and law.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview. 

Discussions (5)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, each student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. Each thread must be at least 700 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 3 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 250 words.

Constitutional Connections Paper Assignment (3)

Every debate and decision in American public policy is ultimately grounded in the Constitution’s text, context, and historic application. As the student enters this doctoral program in public policy, it is essential for the student to narrow his/her research focus and learn about the constitutional provisions and precedents related to his/her area of public policy interest as soon as possible.

The three Constitutional Connection assignments in this course will assist the student in understanding the constitutional provisions and debates that are relevant to his/her area of public policy interest. These assignments are intended to help the student develop a foundation for a historical and normative assessment of the constitutional framework that governs public policy in the area of his/her interest and research.

This series of research papers asks the student to examine themes relevant to his/her area of public policy interest in three moments in our nation’s constitutional history: 1) the Colonial and Confederation Era; 2) the Constitutional Era (including state and/or federal constitutions); 3) the Ratification and Early Republican Era.

The body of each essay should be solidly grounded in one or more primary source documents drawn from the time period in question, and should be supplemented by relevant scholarship. It should define the range of opinion or practice related to this area of public policy and detail one or more critical points of debate. It should also explain and evaluate ways in which the handling of this public policy area in the Constitution and/or founding era continues to remain relevant to current public policy debates.