Research Group on Constitutional Studies Student Fellowship

McGill24 is over but the Seeds of Change campaign will continue for three more weeks. The challenge grant still applies: 50 gifts by alums or current students of the fellowship of at least $75 each will unlock an additional $1000 gift. Help us meet the goal for for the year! If every alum who hasn't given yet this year were to give even $25, that would get us there.

Thanks to everyone for your support! We think we had the greatest success of any academic student program on Seeds of Change on McGill24.

Help the Research Group on Constitutional Studies raise enough money to permanently endow our Student Fellowship fund, guaranteeing it remains available for future generations of students.

You support will help support:

  • stipends and books students receive as part of their fellowship
  • networking opportunities with visiting speakers
  • student participation at conferences, research assistance subsidies, and other contributions to academic enrichment

We continue to seek donations to build an endowment that will provide long-term funding of the Research Group on Constitutional Studies Student Fellowship: the small stipend students receive; books they receive; activities with visiting speakers; a broad range of faculty involvement; and cultural, research, and academic opportunities, including attending plays and operas related to the works they're discussing, and participation in conferences, seminars, and summer schools.

For ten years, the Research Group on Constitutional Studies Student Fellowship has provided an intellectual community as well as academic opportunities to an interdisciplinary group of students interested in reading and discussing books on politics, law, and ethics outside the classroom. The fellowship has been able to help students pursue research opportunities, attend conferences and seminars around the world, and meet with leading scholars and writers, including Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, Templeton laureates Charles Taylor and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sachs, MacArthur Fellow Elizabeth Anderson, Jeremy Waldron, Orlando Patterson, Saskia Sassen, and dozens more.

The core of the Fellowship always lies in the conversation: 15-20 students meeting in the Ferrier library, patiently working their way through important books and arguing about the ideas they contain. These discussions make up the heart of student participation in RGCS and in the Yan P. Lin Centre. For many students, they have provided a valuable transition between a liberal arts education and advanced graduate study in the social sciences, philosophy, or law. For many more, they've been a capstone liberal arts experience in their own right.  Even this year, with discussion moved online, this year's students have read and discussed Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishments; Kafka, The Trial; Wright, Native Son; and Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy. They've also had online conversations (no dinners this year, though) with the RGCS Lecture speakers: Michael Munger (Duke), Teresa Bejan (Oxford), and Anthony Appiah (NYU), so far. 

Your contribution will be used to create an endowment fund that will support participating students in a variety of ways. Funds will go toward the small stipend students receive for taking part in RGCS, books, networking opportunities with visiting speakers, faculty involvement, and cultural, research, and academic opportunities, including research assistantships and participation in conferences, seminars, and summer schools.

The fellowship as a whole currently depends for its existence on year-by-year external grants. The long-term goal is to build an endowment that will fund it permanently, sustaining it for students through the support of alumni/ae.

Because the University designated this a Seeds of Change program, online donations made through this page between 12:00am and 11:59pm EDT on March 10 are eligible for a maximum of 1:1 matching, up to $1000 per donor. (If donations made during this period exceed the amount of matching funds available, the matching ratio will be adjusted accordingly.) Additional funds are promised if we reach 50 alumni/ae donations of $75 or more, and for a 50% match of the largest alum donation up to $3000.

To follow RGCS' activities or to take a look back through the years, Like us on Facebook:  . Most of the RGCS Lectures are available on YouTube at

Below, some pictures of student fellows with visiting speakers over the years!




And one from this very strange and different year:


Meet the Project Team: 
Thomas Bissett

About me: I am in my second year of my MA in political theory. 

Campaign involvement: I’ve been an RGCS fellow for 5 years now, and this is my second year as a Seeds of Change Ambassador.

Favourite RGCS memory: Speaking with a Philip Pettit at an RGCS dinner. We spoke about Hobbes’ poetry and his time at public school. 

Fun fact: I (literally) bumped into Elijah Wood my first time walking down St Laurent Boulevard, and he cussed me out. I’ve always regretted not telling him that he made for a crappy Frodo. 

Verity Thomson

About me: 3rd year law student at McGill. This summer I’ll be working for the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario and next year I’m planning to complete a Masters of Law. I have a special interest in environmental and international law.

RGCS Involvement: I’ve been a student fellow of RGCS for two years. I’ve greatly enjoyed the discussions which keep me engaged in my political theory roots. Thanks to RGCS I was able to attend the two week EURAC Winter School on Federalism in Innsbruck, Austria and Bolzano, Italy. My fun fact is that during the second week of the Winter School, Covid-19 hit Italy in a big way and we were forced to flee back into Austria for fear the borders would close.

Gracie Gallay

About Me: I am currently a Master’s student in Political Theory at the University of Oxford. Before Oxford, I studied Political Science at McGill — where I had the joy of being a student fellow with RGCS for two years. 

RGCS Involvement: As an unsure undergraduate, RGCS gave me the space and support I needed to believe that I could pursue my field. Its intimate, peer-focused learning environment was crucial in my undergraduate confidence-building, while its lecture series offered consistent inspiration outside of the classroom. 

RGCS offers students access to a supportive community of scholars and allows them an avenue to pursue their academic passion beyond graded work. The reading group is a considerately-crafted space that allows students room to stop and think, to stumble, and to explore. The environment of academic exploration and support it fosters was critical to my academic experience — and established a standard to which I hold all other learning spaces. 

I want nothing more than to see this group continue to give other students the support it gave, and continues to give, me. 

Fun Fact: Before moving to Montreal from Texas at age 18, I had never seen snow. It was quite the learning curve! 


Guillaume Bogiaris

About me: I am assistant professor of political science and philosophy at the University of West Alabama. My primary research interest is how traditional texts of political philosophy inform contemporary normative debates.

Campaign involvement: I was part of the very first RGCS cohort during my MA in political theory at McGill, over ten years ago! I loved it then and I’ve always remembered the RGCS fondly; I was honored to be asked to be part of this year’s Seeds of Change Campaign.

Fun fact: As a young French Canadian at McGill, I conflated in my mind Pig Latin and Vulgar Latin, and referred to the former to mean the latter in class, to the great amusement of all members of a packed graduate seminar led by Dr. Levy. I am embarrassed by the memory to this day.

David Loach


About Me: By day, I work as a marketing consultant in Montreal. By night, I obsessively check online analytics, and then occasionally design boardgames. I graduated with a degree in Political Science from McGill in 2012.

Campaign Involvement: The discussions at the RGCS are one of the great highlights of university experience.  I feel each past and present member of the reading group cannot walk away without feeling a unique privilege of being a part of such a thoughtful and challenging circle - that along with a persistent, terrifying fear of the phrase: "say more about that."

Fun Fact: My most recently designed tabletop game is based on the political scandals of Montreal, and is affectionately named "Construction & Corruption."