Course Offerings

The James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions is pleased to participate in and contribute to the academic life at Princeton University through its support of course offerings. The Program provides full funding support for courses that are of interest both to students in the Department of Politics and to students in other departments such as religion, philosophy, history, and the Woodrow Wilson School. Offered regularly is a course on American Statesmanship funded by the William Garwood family. 

Spring 2017 Course Offerings:

FRS 164: The Idea and the Reality of Justice

David F. Forte, 2015-16 James Madison Program Garwood Visiting Professor and Garwood Visiting Fellow
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.


The United States Constitution declares as one of its purposes: "To establish justice." What did the Framers mean by that? How has the term "justice" been defined, contested, and implemented in history? What can poets, philosophers, playwrights, and great figures in history tell us about justice as a theory and as a practical guide to human action?

In this course, we will study philosophers, thinkers, and writers who have investigated the idea and the reality of justice. Using plays, novels, speeches, and motion pictures, among other sources, we will examine the idea of justice and how various figures and societies have historically conceived of and applied justice. We will also apply notions of justice to our own understanding of real problems of human law and action. For example: Are some kinds of inequality unjust while other kinds are just? How can our understanding of justice be applied to the treatment of animals, abortion, capital punishment, suicide, and war? What is justice in relation to God and the family? What are the cures for injustice?

Course materials include selections from Hobbes, Aristotle, Lincoln, and King, among others, and motion pictures such as "A Man for All Seasons" and "Justice at Nuremberg." There will be two short written reflections (3-5 pages) based on the readings and issues debated in class, and a final paper (10-12 pages). The final paper will be on a topic of the student's choosing in consultation with the professor. It may deal with a question of justice in the contemporary world, or a study of the ideas of justice presented by a writer not covered in the course.



Fall 2016 Course Offerings:

POL 332: Topics in American Statesmanship - The Successful President
David F. Forte, 2015-16 James Madison Program Garwood Visiting Professor and Garwood Visiting Fellow
Tuesday and Thursday, 3:30 – 4:20 p.m., with precepts 

POL 332 has been made into a regularly offered Topics in American Statesmanship course, sponsored by the James Madison Program, and, as such, can be taken more than once as long as the topic changes.  

The American Presidency is unique in the political history of the world. The Framers of the American Republic sought to merge two opposing principles: a vigorous unitary executive within a limited constitutional republic. Whether their experiment was successful or not has depended largely on the personality and character of those who occupied the office. We shall study that which makes for a successful presidency (or not) according to a set of standards: Adherence to the rule of law; Protection from foreign and domestic threat; Administrative competency; Economic policy; Unifying influence; Preservation of liberty; and Integrity. Readings will include Forrest MacDonald, The American Presidency, Harvey Mansfield, Taming the Prince, Edward Corwin, The President: Office and Powers, Joseph Bessette and Jeffrey Tulis, eds., The Presidency in the Constitutional Order, Biography of Washington or Lincoln, Sidney Milkis and Michael Nelson, The American Presidency: Origins and Development: 1776-2011. See instructor for complete list. Reading/Writing assignments: Mid Term Exam - 30%, Oral Presentation(s) - 10%, Term Paper(s) - 40%, Class/Precept Participation - 20%.

David F. Forte, 2016-17 James Madison Program Garwood Visiting Professor and Visiting Fellow, is Professor of Law at Cleveland State University, where he was the inaugural holder of the Charles R. Emrick, Jr.- Calfee Halter & Griswold Endowed Chair. His teaching focuses on Constitutional Law, the First Amendment, Islamic Law, Jurisprudence, Natural Law, International Law, International Human Rights, the Presidency, and Constitutional History. During the Reagan administration, he served as chief counsel to the United States delegation to the United Nations and alternate delegate to the Security Council. He has authored a number of briefs before the United States Supreme Court, and his work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. He has frequently testified before the United States Congress and consulted with the Department of State on human rights and international affairs issues. He has received a number of awards for his public service, including the Cleveland Bar Association’s President’s Award, the Cleveland State University Award for Distinguished Service, the Cleveland State University Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Alumni Award for Faculty Excellence. He served as Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family under Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. In 2003 he was a Distinguished Fulbright Chair at the University of Trento and returned there in 2004 as a Visiting Professor. He was a Bradley Scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a Visiting Scholar at the Liberty Fund, and is adjunct Scholar at the Ashbrook Center. He has been appointed to the Ohio State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He served as book review editor for the American Journal of Jurisprudence and has edited a volume entitled, Natural Law and Contemporary Public Policy (Georgetown University Press). He authored Islamic Law Studies: Classical and Contemporary Applications (Austin & Winfield). He is Senior Editor of The Heritage Guide to the Constitution (Regnery & Co, 2006), 2nd edition (2014), a clause-by-clause analysis of the Constitution of the United States. He holds degrees from Harvard College, Manchester University, England, the University of Toronto and Columbia University.


FRS 195: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. EM

Cornel West, Class of 1943 University Professor in the Center for African American Studies, Emeritus; Senior Scholar, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions

Monday 1:30 - 4:20 p.m.


This Freshman Seminar course will examine the work and witness of two great prophetic figures of the 20th century: Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. We shall explore the pietistic, prophetic, and poetic dimensions of the writings and the impact of their lives then and now. We also shall discern how they wrestle with the problematic of nihilism, namely the challenge of meaninglessness, hopelessness, lovelessness, and the possible triumph of "might makes right." We shall highlight their philosophical, spiritual, and moral response to the catastrophe of evil in the modern world. Papers - 40%, Oral Presentation(s) - 30%, Class/Precept Participation - 30%.  Sponsored by the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions.

Cornel West is Class of 1943 University Professor in the Center for African American Studies, Emeritus, and Senior Scholar in Politics and the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, University of Paris, and Union Theological Seminary. He has written and edited over 30 books, including Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent releases, Black Prophetic Fire and Radical King, were received with critical acclaim. Dr. West is a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, Colbert Report, CNN, C-Span and Democracy Now. He made his film debut in the film The Matrix – and was the commentator (with Ken Wilbur) on the official trilogy released in 2004. He also has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films including Examined Life, Call & Response, Sidewalk and Stand. He has made three spoken word albums including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, and the late Gerald Levert. Cornel West has a passion to invite a variety of people from all walks of life into his world of ideas in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.