RGCS student fellows

Student fellows (BA, MA, BCL/JD)

CFA: 2022-23 Research Group on Constitutional Studies Student Fellowship

The McGill Research Group on Constitutional Studies ( http://www.mcgill.ca/rgcs/

https://www.facebook.com/RGCSMcGill ) is accepting applications for its 2022-23 Student Fellowship.

RGCS brings together the study of political theory, political and legal philosophy, constitutional and public law, and empirical political science about constitutional institutions (the judiciary, federalism, separation of powers, etc.) It aims to unify these within an overarching research agenda on the foundations, institutions, and principles of political societies. "Constitutional" is construed broadly. It encompasses both the modern sense of the word (the fundamental institutions of a society's formal political and legal order, including institutional and legal norms limiting and directing political decisions) and the ancient (concerned with the match between political regimes and the societies they govern, and so concerned with the norms and rules governing family life, economic relations, and social orders). It includes some fifteen faculty researchers in Political Science, Philosophy, and Law; postdoctoral fellows; a group of Ph.D. students; and this Student Fellowship of undergraduates and Master's students. RGCS is a unit of the Yan P. Lin Centre for the Study of Freedomand Global Orders in the Ancient and Modern Worlds.

The 10th anniversary conference of RGCS was held in May 2021, remotely; the sessions are available to view on the Lin Centre's Youtube channel, and offer a sense of the range of RGCS' interests: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs6FGWKJ5ZD_5tjhgmeJuxA

Eligibility: The Fellowship is open to Arts undergraduates (U2 or later) studying political theory and related fields (including political science, philosophy, intellectual history, and the other social sciences, but background preparation in political theory and philosophy is a primary consideration). Pursuing an Honours course of study is an advantage but not a requirement. It is also open to students in the MA programs in political science and philosophy, and in the BCL/ JD program in Law.

Students finishing their degrees in December are eligible if they are returning undergraduate members of the fellowship group, but not otherwise.

Returning BA members are normally accepted, as are former BA members now applying in their first year of an MA or BCL/ JD, but still must submit an application. Applications to return for a second or third year as an MA or BCL/ JD Fellow are welcome, but acceptances may be limited by available spaces.

Award: $500, plus free copies of the books.

Activities: The RGCS Student Fellowship meets 3-4 Thursdays per month 4:30-6 pm (and so Fellows should protect that block of time every week), for two kinds of activities.

1) The first, and primary, activity is a reading group with two members of the RGCS faculty. The reading group is not a for-credit reading course and cannot be taken as one. In the fall of 2022 we will read Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America; winter 2023 readings will include works by Frederick Douglass.

Fellows are expected to attend the reading group regularly, to do the reading in a timely fashion, and to take an active, thoughtful part in discussion. The group works as a sustained conversation over months, and can't succeed without continuity from week to week.

2) The second activity is linked to the RGCS Lecture Series, which features speakers on the values, institutions, and principles of a free society. They take place in the same time slot, Thursdays 4:30-6 pm. Fellows are expected to attend all of the lectures, and will be invited to take part in small group meetings with the speakers as well (normally a dedicated dinner). The first question at the lectures is reserved for a member of the Fellowship. (And this is worth thinking about during the lecture!) The 2022-23 lecture series will include Jonathan Rodden (Stanford), Daniel ZIblatt (Harvard), Sharon Krause (Brown), and David Schmidtz (Arizona), plus 1-2 more speakers TBA.

Other activities

Fellows will also be occasionally invited to other talks, seminars, and conferences in political theory, political philosophy, constitutional law, and the history of political thought; unlike attendance at the lectures, participation in these is optional. There are sometimes small group meetings with visiting speakers outside the RGCS Lecture Series, in recent years including Saskia Sassen, Timur Kuran, Charles Taylor, and Philip Pettit.

Sometimes RGCS is able to secure space in the audience for Fellows at other kinds of events; these have included lectures by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon, essayist Roxane Gay, novelist Margaret Atwood, Nobel laureate in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa, and Templeton Prize winner Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

When possible, RGCS supports other academic opportunities for Student Fellows, including support for travel to academic conferences, seminars, and workshops; ARIA research assistanceships with members of the RGCS faculty; and self-organized summer reading groups.

RGCS sponsors an annual Arts undergraduate student writing prize; it is not limited to members of the Fellowship but they are encouraged to apply.


To apply, please e-mail rgcs.mcgill [at] gmail.com by 5 pm on August 26. The e-mail should contain:

1) Your year and program (e.g. "U3, Joint Honours Political Science and Philosophy," "MA1, Political Science")

2) the courses you have taken in political theory, political philosophy, the history of political thought, constitutional law, jurisprudence, or related fields (e.g. the history of economic or social thought), including instructor's name and term/year, and the grades you received in them;

3) a brief (1-2 sentence) description of your educational/ career goals after graduating from your current program;


4) copied-and-pasted at the bottom of the e-mail (not as an attachment), your "unofficial transcript" from Minerva. (Not applicable to MA1 or BCL/JD1 students.)

You may also include 5) mention of any exposure you have had to political theory, constitutional law, and related fields outside of formal coursework, such as conferences and workshops you've attended.

Please put all of this in the body of the e-mail, not an attachment.



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