Villanova Graduate History and the James Madison Foundation’s Summer Institute

Villanova’s Graduate History program is known for its outreach to local secondary educators to provide them with an affordable, flexible Master’s program to satisfy their continuing education requirements. As a student, I have noticed and greatly enjoyed the company and intellectual discourse of many secondary teachers in each of the courses I have taken at Villanova. In fact, I am a certified secondary educator myself and chose Villanova’s graduate history program because of its flexibility, affordability, and recommendation from an alumnus who, like myself, received the James Madison Memorial Fellowship. The purpose of this post is to highlight the James Madison Fellowship and its compatibility with Villanova’s graduate history program for current or prospective graduate students who are interested in secondary education.

Briefly, the James Madison Memorial Fellowship (JMF) subsidizes a master’s degree for one to two secondary teachers from every state that seek to expand their knowledge of U.S. constitutional history. As a result, a James Madison fellow is required to take at least two courses in their graduate program that relate to the Constitution, and also attend a six-credit course on the Constitution and the Founding at Georgetown University during a summer of their choosing. After a Fellow has completed their coursework requirements, they are obligated to teach secondary school for however many years they received funding from the Foundation.

Villanova’s graduate history program has meshed extremely well with the JMF. I have been able to satisfy my constitutional coursework requirements through both formal coursework and independent study just one year into the program.

This past summer, I attended the Summer Institute at Georgetown University and the experience was once in a lifetime. The Institute is a one-month long course on the origins of American Constitutionalism that brings together teachers from around the country (and even one Fellow from Cuba) to intellectually immerse fellows in the primary sources of the American Founding. All four professors were wonderful and very knowledgeable, providing daily lectures and discussions that considered extremely thought-provoking historical inquiry.


View of D.C. from Arlington House, Arlington National Cemetery

The experience was truly immersive, as we lived on Georgetown’s majestic campus and traveled around D.C. and northern Virginia to visit some of the places relevant to our study. We enjoyed private Q&A talks with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Secretary of Education John King (a former Madison Fellow himself), and Federal District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth.


Q&A with Justice Kennedy. I’m seated in the first row, second on the left.


Meeting Secretary of Education, John B. King, Jr.

We also traveled to the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, Arlington National Cemetery, Mt. Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, Gunston Hall, and the Society of the Cincinnati.


2016 Summer Institute Class at James Madison’s Montpelier

Best of all, I have made quite a few friends and professional connections that span the nation, several of which I remain in contact with nearly three month’s post-Institute.



At George Mason’s statue on the National Mall (bet you didn’t know there was a monument for George Mason). 



Fellows after the annual James Madison Lecture. This Summer’s lecture was given by Edward G. Lengel on his new book, First Entrepreneur: How George Washington Built His – and the Nation’s – Prosperity



Me and the Cuban Fellow, Professor Manuel de Jesus Velazquez Leon. We became very good friends and had many interesting discussions regarding the Cuban perspective on events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis.


For current or prospective teachers who are seeking their master’s degree in history, Villanova’s graduate history program and the James Madison Fellowship combine to provide a rich graduate experience in U.S. constitutional and legal history.


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