The Founding Era and Constitution – PLCY 702

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 09/05/2023

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 as well as significant crises and inconsistencies between ideals and practice Study will span the formative period from the granting of colonial charters to the ratification of the I.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.


Americans often view the United States Constitution a singular document that created a Novus Ordo Seclorum – a “new order of the ages.” Yet this Constitution represented a culmination of hundreds of years of theoretical and political developments from the English constitutional tradition. And since its adoption, the United States Constitution has prompted the development of constitutionalism as a global norm, with virtually every nation in the world having adopted some form of constitutional government.

This paradox raises questions relevant for the study and development of American public policy. Such questions are especially pressing as the post-Cold War consensus about America’s role in the world has dissolved. Most notably, does (or should) the United States Constitution be seen as representing a popular consensus regarding the development of the political institutions and practices of a particular people with a particular interest in constitutional self-government? Or does (or should) it be seen as one of many constitutions that have been implemented around the globe which continue to converge upon an elite consensus about liberal and democratic political norms?

This course encourages students to explore these questions through examination of key primary sources from the history of the development of precedents to the Constitution, the Constitution itself, and debate about its ratification and interpretation. Students will be asked to reflect on the implications of their inquiry for public policies in the area of their research interest.

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 (6)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide a thread in response to the provided prompt for each Discussion. Each thread must be at least 750 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.

In one paragraph (5-8 sentences), the student will define his or her research interest, culminating in a provisional research question. The student will identify and assess eight peer-reviewed sources that address constitutional questions related to his or her area of public policy interest.

The student will write an 8-page research-based paper in current APA format that focuses on an issue of American constitutionalism covered in this course as it relates to the student's area of public policy interest. The paper must include at least 12 peer-reviewed academic references.