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Lafayette will host 18 educators from 18 foreign nations this summer for the 2001 Fulbright Summer Institute on The U.S. Constitution: Origins, Evolution, and Contemporary Issues.

Funded by a $176,000 grant from the U.S. State Department, the program will be conducted June 29 to August 11 by Lafayette’s Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government. John Kincaid, Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service and director of the Meyner Center, will oversee the institute, whose faculty will include scholars from various U.S. institutions, including Lafayette.

In a four-week academic residency at Lafayette, followed by a two-week study tour, the participants will gain practical insights into the central role of the U.S. Constitution in American life and history, Kincaid says.

“The institute will treat the U.S. Constitution as that which constitutes the American people,” says Kincaid. “The Constitution does more than define American values; it creates the American people. They would not exist without it. The Constitution embraces those willing to adhere to it, immigrants, for example, regardless of race, creed, or national origin. It also engenders patriotism rather than nationalism — a crucial distinction for the world’s many multinational countries, where constitutionalism often fails to evoke national patriotism in the face of multiple nationalisms.

“Second, the Constitution is more than U.S. Supreme Court cases. It is shaped and understood by political, social, cultural, and economic forces as well as by the Congress, presidents, the states, and the people. In turn, the Constitution shapes these forces and institutions in a constantly interactive dynamic. To understand Roe v. Wade (1973) and its progeny, for example, one must understand not only legal doctrines, such as standing to sue and mootness, and the U.S. Bill of Rights, but also ‘original intent’ vs. the ‘living Constitution,’ the sexual revolution and other 1960s revolutions, the women’s rights movement, historic state regulation of abortion in the federal system, the fact that the United States is the world’s second-most religious nation, and the like.

“Third, some attention will be given to state constitutions because those constitutions preceded the U.S. Constitution, complete the federal Constitution, treat matters not addressed by that Constitution – for examples, local government, education, and the police power — and constitute half of the nation’s system of dual sovereignty. In many ways, state constitutions are more relevant for other countries because state documents are more detailed and interpreted differently than the federal Constitution; states are decentralized unitary democracies; and most U.S. states are bigger polities than the participants’ countries. At 33 million people, for instance, California is larger than Canada. California is the world’s seventh largest economic power, in terms of GDP and tenth-largest government, in terms of budget.”

Currently, Kincaid is hosting a two-month education program on federalism for Marina Spiliotopoulou, Counsel of the Republic in the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus.

Jerome Heavey, professor and head of economics and business at Lafayette, will serve as assistant project director for the Fulbright Summer Institute. Several faculty from Lafayette also will participate in seminar sessions relevant to their interests and expertise.

The Fulbright Institute curriculum will focus on America’s ongoing debates over the meaning and role of the U.S. Constitution, its origins and evolution, and the impacts of changing conceptions and practices of constitutionalism on American democracy, republicanism, federalism, liberty, rights, pluralism, separation of powers, checks and balances, economic prosperity, social welfare, and social values, including such contemporary issues as racial and sexual equality, privacy, disability rights, and freedom of speech and religion.

During their first four weeks, participants will learn how generations of Americans have shaped and been shaped by the Constitution; explore contemporary scholarly approaches to American constitutionalism; discuss classic and primary works of American constitutionalism; and develop methods to apply the literature and ideas in their own classrooms, research, and communities. They also will learn through three-day weekend tours of historic Philadelphia and New York; meetings with the mayor of Easton and Northampton County executive; attendance at a city council meeting; a tour of the Northampton County prison; a visit to a Puerto Rican community center in Allentown; and one or two similar activities.

In addition, faculty will organize formal activities and some informal evening gatherings on such topics as coping with American shopping, understanding American television and the media, the 2000 presidential election, examining issues in American higher education and in their own lives as academics. Participants also will be hosted by a local church for a Sunday worship service, go river rafting and bowling (after reading Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone), attend Easton’s July 4th fireworks, visit the Crayola Factory and National Canal Museum in Easton, have full access to Lafayette’s Allan P. Kirby Sports Center, attend a show at the State Theatre in Easton, visit Bethlehem and Allentown, and be able to see a show and visit museums in New York City and Philadelphia.

Over the last two weeks, participants will encounter the Constitution from a multicultural perspective, especially Native American and Latino, through site visits and meetings with public officials, civic leaders, and others in Colorado and New Mexico. The study tour will end with three days of site visits; meetings with officials, scholars, and civic leaders; and a State Department debriefing in Washington, D.C. Follow-up activities, including Internet links, will foster post-institute dialogue among participants, institute faculty, and others met by the participants.

Kincaid is co-editor of Publius: The Journal of Federalism, which is devoted to the increase and diffusion of knowledge about federalism and intergovernmental relations. He is also editor of a 50-book series on the Governments and Politics of the American States being published by the University of Nebraska Press; elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration; member of the editorial board of the State Constitutional Law Bulletin; 1991 recipient of the Donald Stone Distinguished Scholar Award from the Section on Intergovernmental Administration and Management of the American Society of Public Administration; coeditor of Competition Among States and Local Governments: Efficiency and Equity in American Federalism (1991); editor of Political Culture, Public Policy and the American States (1982); and author of various works on federalism and intergovernmental relations.

Kincaid was executive director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR), Washington, D.C., from 1988-94, following two years as director of research at the commission. In 1994-95 he was a Kestenbaum Fellow there. ACIR was established in 1959 by the 86th Congress as a permanent, bipartisan body of 26 members, to give continuing study to the relationship among local, state, and national levels of government.

Kincaid holds a Ph.D. in political science from Temple University. He was associate professor of political science at the University of North Texas from 1979-94 and has also taught at Arizona State University, Seton Hall University, and St. Peter’s College. He has lectured and consulted on issues of constitutionalism, federalism, intergovernmental relations, and regional and local governance in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

The Meyner Center was endowed in 1992 by the family of Robert B. Meyner, a Lafayette alumnus and former governor of New Jersey, and Helen S. Meyner, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The center began operation in August 1994 with Kincaid as its first director and as the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service. The center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan institute dedicated to improving teaching, research, and public service at home and abroad. It has organized workshops and study tours for various international delegations, hosted foreign scholars for short visits and lectures as well as for longer periods, and conducted three USIA summer institutes.

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