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Lyon faculty shares virtual resources for Constitution Day

Lyon community members will get an in-depth look at the nation’s founding document on Constitution Day thanks to the efforts of faculty and staff. 

Faculty and staff compiled a list of resources students can access to gain deeper knowledge of the Constitution and explore new perspectives on its legacy.

Constitution Day is celebrated annually on Sept. 17 to commemorate the date on which the U.S. Constitution was originally signed in 1787 in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention.

“As an institution, we are happy to dedicate time during Constitution Week to a thoughtful consideration of the history and legacy of the document for our 21st Century citizenry,” said Provost Melissa Taverner.

The College traditionally hosts events with guest speakers, such as local attorneys and even an Arkansas State Supreme Court justice, to discuss Constitutional history and interpretation, she said, but in-person gatherings were not an option this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“However, we are blessed to have a resource in the faculty and staff,” Taverner said, “who were able to bring their experience and expertise to the situation and helped us imagine another way to provide an educational opportunity for the community.”

Political science, history, art and business faculty, as well as several staff members, contributed suggestions for books, articles and even art projects that address both the history of the Constitution and ways that modern citizens can understand the importance of the document.

“It was ultimately a collaborative effort,” said Dr. Bradley Gitz, the William Jefferson Clinton Professor of Politics. “I started the list off with some suggestions, including everything from The Federalist to Hamilton, and sent that on to Scott and other faculty, who added their own suggestions.”

“No human-designed government is perfect, but our constitution has proven remarkably resilient,” said Dr. Scott Roulier, the John Trimble Sr. Professor of Political Philosophy. 

He continued, “It’s a testament to its ability to balance the need for social order, on the one hand, and its commitment to individual liberty, on the other--to its simultaneous delegation of and limits on state power.”

Public Services Librarian Anna Leinweber contributed links to two National Archives virtual events.

“I think the first event, ‘The Electoral College and the Constitution,’ will be insightful particularly this year with how contested the presidential election is going to be,” she said.

Leinweber said the panelists include current members of Congress, who pledge to uphold the Constitution and can provide firsthand experience on how it functions in their daily work.

“I focused on the American Revolution rather than the Constitution,” said Assistant Professor of History Dr. Brian D’Haeseleer, “because students are often shocked to learn about how ‘ordinary’ people played a key role in the revolution. And, for historians such as Breen and Nash, they were the key engines instead of the Founding Fathers.”

“The assembled resources are diverse and timely,” Taverner said, “and will permit people to explore the Constitution from many different perspectives.”