The 2020 Undergraduate Conference on the American Polity

Photo of East Pyne Princeton
East Pyne, the location of this year's Undergraduate Conference on the American Polity at Princeton University. Photo Credit: Princeton University, Office of Communications, Danielle Alio (2018)

UPDATE (March 9, 2020): This event has been CANCELLED. Please contact Ch'nel Duke at for more information.

The James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University is pleased to announce that this year’s Annual Undergraduate Conference on the American Polity will take place April 3-4 at Princeton University.  The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) and the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization at Colgate University will cosponsor the event. Renowned professor, author, and historian Allen C. GuelzoDirector of the James Madison Program’s Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship, will keynote the event.

The annual conference features outstanding undergraduates from institutions across the U.S. and research from a variety of disciplines including history, economics, philosophy, anthropology, religion, political science, and sociology.  Submissions should concern in some way the principles and practice of American political life. Papers should be 12-15 pages in length and ready for final submission on or by Sunday, March 22, 2020. In many cases, the papers presented are distillations of senior theses.  We ask presenters not to read the paper, but to explain to the audience in the time allotted why they chose the topic, the important questions they sought to investigate, the methods used in the research, the difficulties encountered along the way, and the significant findings and insights attained at the end of the project.

On Saturday, a series of at least three discussion panels will take place, beginning at 9:00 a.m. At each panel, three students will present their papers for approximately 20 minutes each. They will receive comments from a professor and then a question and answer session will follow. A special tour of Princeton's Rare Books and Special Collections will be curated for an afternoon visit based on the content of the student papers. The conference will conclude on Saturday evening with a special group discussion centered on a prescribed reading provided by the featured speakers. Please scroll down for the conference schedule.

Please register below and submit a draft copy or outline in email (to: by Sunday, March 8th. Registrants will be accepted on a rolling basis. If you are selected to attend the conference, the final copy of your paper will need to be submitted by Sunday, March 22nd. 

PRINCETON STUDENTS: Register HERE for the Princeton University panel at this year's conference!

In planning for the event, attendees should arrive on Friday, April 3, 2020 for the kick-off banquet and keynote address. Departures should take place on Sunday morning or afternoon, April 5, 2020. We ask that home institutions cover, if they can, the cost of transportation and accommodations for attendees. All other expenses, including meals and ground transportation to and from the airport (EWR or PHL) or train station (Trenton or Princeton Junction), will be provided.  If funding is a problem, please let us know.

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Nassau Inn, 10 Palmer Square, Princeton. For booking information, please indicate your lodging needs on the registration form linked below.

Register HERE as a student presenter, student attendee, faculty commentator, or faculty attendee!

Conference Schedule

Friday, April 3
Afternoon: arrival and check-in at the Nassau Inn, 10 Palmer Square, Princeton 
6:00: Dinner, Nassau Inn
7:00: Keynote Address by Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, Director of the Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship in the James Madison Program, Princeton University

Saturday, April 4
9:00-10:30: Panel #1, East Pyne 010
10:30-11:00: Break
11:00-12:30: Panel #2, East Pyne 010
12:30-2:00: Lunch
2:00-3:45: Panel #3, East Pyne 010
3:45-5:20 Curated Tour of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library
5:30: Dinner, Prospect House
6:45: Directed Discussion, Prospect House

Sunday, April 5
Depart at your convenience