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The political structures that house and protect a society of free and responsible persons and a market economy cannot be taken for granted, and must be better understood. The Research Group on Constitutional Studies at McGill engages in intellectual activities around the values, institutions, and principles of free societies. With a distinctive combination of normative, empirical social scientific, and legal scholarship, it has been developing ideas and approaches that could provide a meaningful political science component to the broad social theory of free societies.

This grant would support 1) the training of graduate students in this approach, 2) original research by the two project leaders as well as other faculty members in RGCS, 3) a visiting fellowship that allows intellectual exchange and cross-fertilization, and 4) two conferences aimed at establishing this combination of empirical and normative work about free societies as research agendas for political science as a discipline. The project as a whole would encourage and disseminate research on such topics as the social or moral preconditions of successful constitutional government; the best understanding of the rights constitutions protect; the establishment and preservation of constitutional institutions, including federalism and the separation of powers; and the robustness or fragility of a constitutional political culture.

This combination of original research, graduate training, and exchange and dissemination aims to directly add to our understanding of the political institutions and structures of a free society; to seed further work on those topics by students and young scholars; and to catalyze the study of those themes in the discipline of political science, using both normative and empirical analyses.