The Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier offers world-class on-site and Web-enabled educational programming. The Center’s goal is to inspire participation in civic dialogue, improve the public’s understanding of the founding principles of the United States, and enable citizens to deepen their understanding of and participation in our democracy.

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Ends on 9/30/2015

American Federalism

October 23-25, 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. 

Tuition and Scholarships

Montpelier Seminars cost approximately $1,500 per teacher; however, thanks to the generosity of private donors, there are a limited number of full scholarships available for educators from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and California. Teachers from other states are still encouraged to apply as non-state-specific scholarships are often available. 

Scholarships cover the cost of accommodations, meals, reading materials, teaching resources, and documentation for recertification credits. Applicants will be charged a $50 non-refundable registration fee upon officially accepting their place in a Montpelier Seminar.

Participants are responsible for covering the cost of their own travel arrangements to and from Montpelier (Orange, VA).  

What You Get

James Madison's Montpelier will provide all participants with accommodations, meals, and reading materials that are specially edited and assembled to reflect the theme of the Seminar.

Participants stay in renovated houses in the Constitutional Village on the grounds of James Madison's Montpelier. Participants will usually have their own bedroom but will share common living space, and may share bathrooms. Housing is provided only for the duration of the Seminar. Participants arriving early or staying late will be responsible for arranging their own housing on those days. 

Educators will receive documentation of the Seminar’s contact hours to qualify for professional development from your local school system, according to your own school policies.  

Continuing Education Credits are available for an additional fee through James Madison University. 

Application Process

You will be notified of your status shortly after you submit your application. Eligible applicants who cannot be included in a Seminar will be placed on a waiting list for any vacancies that may occur. 

If you are accepted into a Montpelier Seminar, you must submit a $50 non-refundable registration fee in order to confirm your intent to attend and to reserve your seat at the Seminar. After the Center receives your payment, you will be sent additional information including scheduling, directions, and reading materials.

Although educators may apply for more than one Seminar per year, applicants are typically only accepted to one program per year in order to allow as many educators as possible to attend our Seminars. 

Teachers from the same school may apply to attend Montpelier Seminars.