Constitutional Issues Research Fellowship Summer 2014

Mount Holyoke sophomores and juniors may submit proposals for research projects on contemporary public policy issues that contain a constitutional history component. Fellowship awards provide $5,000 for summer research that might serve as a basis for a senior thesis or other scholarly work.  Up to two fellowships may be awarded for summer 2014.Modern issues of both global and domestic public frequently involve elements of the U.S. or other nations’ constitutions.  Questions regarding human rights, privacy rights, immigration rights, and voting rights together with protections such as free speech, the free press, and the free exercise of religion provide examples of current topics rooted in constitutional provisions and subsequent legal interpretations.Applicants and faculty advisors may interpret the scope of potential topics with moderate breadth.  For example, depending on the specifics of each proposal, the following topics meet the general criteria.

  • An anatomy of  a Supreme Court case, based on interviews with the parties and the files of law firms.
  • A comparison of early US constitutional development with that of nations involved in the Arab Spring.
  • An examination of contemporary campaign contribution laws including relevant Supreme Court decisions.
  • An analysis of citizens’ privacy rights as communications media have expanded to include the widespread gathering of electronic data.
  • Philosophical debates over major issues of governmental authority, civil liberties, or constitutional interpretation.

Proposals of up to four pages should include a clear statement of the topic and its significance, the research approach, and the expected outcome.  In other words, applicants should address these specific questions:

  1. What is the issue?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. What will you do to study the issue thoroughly?
  4. Where will you go for documents?
  5. Who will you interview?
  6. What is the form of the final result of the research?

Students interested in this fellowship should consult with Professors Chris Pyle (Politics) or Dan Czitrom (History) for further details.  Deadline for written proposals is February 15 (copies to Professor Pyle & Czitrom) Notification: March 15.The fellowship sponsor, Dr. Christine L. Compston (MHC ’71) spent her professional career teaching, researching, and writing on topics of constitutional history in their contemporary context.  This career interest began in a senior undergraduate seminar on the constitution.  Through these fellowships, she encourages another generation of Mount Holyoke women to base their emerging careers in fields such as law, journalism, and public service on an understanding of the impact of constitutional history on contemporary issues.