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The Center for Political and Economic Thought

The Center for Political and Economic Thought

  • Academic Centers


The Center for Political and Economic Thought is an interdisciplinary public affairs institution of Saint Vincent College. It sponsors research and education programs, primarily in the fields of politics, economics and moral-cultural affairs. The Center seeks to advance scholarship on philosophical and policy concerns related to freedom and Western civilization with particular regard to the American experience. The Center was founded in 1991 as an outgrowth of the Alex G. McKenna Economic Education Series, which was launched in 1986.

The Center’s programs include: The Alex G. McKenna Economic Education Series, the Government and Political Education Series, the Civitas Forum on Principles and Policies for Public Life, Culture and Policy Conferences and Scholarships and Fellowships. In addition, the Center supports research and educational activities through its staff and it produces numerous publications.

The Center is part of the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics and Government.

Center Highlights

  • Lecture Series

    September 13, 2023              

    Americanism, Rightly Understood

    James Patterson, Ave Maria University

    Constitution Day Lecture


    October 4, 2023                     

    Stopping America’s Slide to Socialism

    Kevin Hassett, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

    McKenna Economic Education Lecture


    October 18, 2023                   

    Thomas Jefferson and the Fight Against Slavery

    Cara Rogers Stevens, Ashland University

    Government and Political Education Lecture


    November 15, 2023   

    McKenna Economic Education Lecture

    Dennis Epple, Carnegie Melon University                            


    January 24, 2024                    

    Tending One's Garden: Lessons about Power and Its Loss in Shakespeare's Henriad

    Joseph Wysocki, Belmont Abbey College

    Government and Political Education Lecture


    February 7, 2024                    

    McKenna Economic Education Lecture


    February 21, 2024                  

    Coming to Terms with John F. Kennedy

    Stephen Knott, U.S. Naval War College


    March 13, 2024                      

    McKenna Economic Education Lecture

  • Mission

    The mission of the Center for Political and Economic Thought at Saint Vincent College is to promote scholarship and informed discussion on political, economic and moral-cultural principles, problems and controversies, and on the public policy questions arising out of them. The Center seeks to understand and reinforce the intellectual and social underpinnings of a free and well-ordered society, with a particular emphasis on the American experience. The programs of the Center are oriented toward the scholarly exposition of individual freedom, limited constitutional government, free market economics, and the philosophical and moral foundations of America and the West. The Center seeks to enhance the curricula of the Political Science, Economics, Public Policy and Business Programs of Saint Vincent College; to provide an educational forum for the Saint Vincent community and the general public; and to contribute intellectually to the greater academic and public affairs communities.
  • Advisory Board

    Morris P. Fiorina, Ph.D., Wendt Family Professor of Political Science, Stanford University, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

    Robert P. George, D.Phil., McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Politics, Princeton University  

    Charles R. Kesler, Ph.D., Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College  

    Bennett T. McCallum, Ph.D., H.J. Heinz Professor of Economics, Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University  

    Wilfred M. McClay, Ph.D., G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma  

    E.S. Savas, Ph.D., Presidential Professor, School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, City University of New York  

  • George Washington Fellowship

    George Washington Fellowship
    The Center for Political and Economic Thought sponsors this fellowship program founded in the 1998-1999 academic year. The program provides a stipend, support for attending academic conferences, and books for each fellow. Fellows must engage in a year-long scholarly project with a faculty member from the Center, which is designed to be a broad learning experience for the fellow in a non-classroom atmosphere.

    Background Information
    The George Washington Fellowship Program is named after our nation's first president in order to focus on the theme of citizenship. Washington emphasized in his writings and addresses that the success of the new American republic would depend upon the nation's ability to become a sacred union of citizens. The Program seeks to attract students interested in scholarly inquiry into the key questions of American citizenship, paying careful attention to the duties and responsibilities of individuals in a free, well ordered society. 

    Applications for projects in the following areas will be accepted: American political thought, American economic thought, political or economic thought generally, American culture and religion, and American constitutionalism.

    Eligibility Requirements
    Successful fellowship applicants will have outstanding records of academic achievement and a demonstrated interest in scholarly inquiry. Students majoring in Political Science or Public Policy are eligible to participate during their sophomore, junior, or senior year. Particular emphasis will be placed on those applying for fellowships for the junior or senior year, but truly superior sophomore applications will also merit consideration. 

    Fellowship proposals must focus on a key question or issue suggested by one of the themes mentioned in the section on Background.

    Fellowship Tasks
    Fellowships are not designed to be an independent study, nor are they intended to require the same type of work that would be involved in taking a regular college course. Rather, fellowships will support a scholarly relationship or conversation between the student and faculty member on the issue or question posed in the application. Once a proposal has been awarded a fellowship, a faculty member will be assigned and the student and faculty member will determine a set of readings appropriate to fostering an in-depth discussion of the question at hand.

    Fellows are expected to read and think seriously about the selected works, to meet regularly with the faculty member to discuss the works, and to produce a piece of work at the end of the fellowship period that reflects what has been learned in the reading and discussions. This final product is not intended to be a thesis-type major research project, but instead a thoughtful and tangible reflection on the learning experience.

    Fellowship Provisions
    Stipend - Fellows will receive a stipend totaling $1,000. The stipend will be paid in installments of $500 at the beginning of each semester. Payment of the stipend in the Spring semester is contingent upon satisfactory progress during the Fall semester. Normally, the stipend should not affect a student's financial aid package, but students are encouraged to verify this with the Office of Admission and Financial Aid.

    Books - A modest budget will be available to purchase the books that a fellow will need to read for his or her project. The assigned faculty member will determine which books are necessary and the books will be purchased directly by the Center.

    Academic Conference Support - It is often the case that there will be a scholarly conference going on that will bear directly on a fellow's academic interest. Beyond this, it is worthwhile for students to have the experience of attending an academic conference. Accordingly, the Fellows Program will provide a modest amount of financial support for participants to attend scholarly conferences that both the student and faculty member agree are of particular merit.

    Year-EndDinner and Other Events - The Center will sponsor a culminating social event for its George Washington Fellows, where each fellow will share his or her thoughts on what has been learned from the fellowship experience. The Center may also sponsor occasional "get togethers" for those participating in the George Washington Fellowship Program.

    Academic Credit - Completion of the Fellowship Program will be noted on the student's academic transcript as a zero-credit entry.

    How to Apply
    Contact Dr. Jason Jividen for more information on how to apply.

  • Aurelius Scholars in Western Civilization

    The Western Intellectual Tradition

    The Aurelius Scholars program is offered to motivated students interested in the Western intellectual tradition and rooted in a diverse course sequence meant to satisfy part of Saint Vincent’s core curriculum. As part of their liberal education, students engage some of the great texts, ideas and perennial questions of the Western world.

    Extracurricular Opportunities

    In addition to the course sequence, Aurelius Scholars participate in enriching extracurricular opportunities, such as reading groups, campus lectures and student trips. Many events encourage Aurelius Scholars to engage in thoughtful conversation with students in other Saint Vincent Honors Community programs. 

    Competitive Scholarships

    A limited number of competitive scholarships are offered for incoming freshmen each year. Select recipients will receive an annual $2,000 scholarship applied toward tuition as part of their financial aid package, over the course of four years. Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of superior academic credentials and their interest in the program. Non-scholarship recipients are also invited and encouraged to participate in this program. 

    Program Requirements

    Students will be expected to enroll in Principles of American Politics in their first year of the program, demonstrate satisfactory progress in completing the Aurelius course sequence, attend occasional lectures sponsored by Saint Vincent’s Center for Political and Economic Thought and periodically meet with the Aurelius program director to discuss their progress.

    Honors Community

    Aurelius Scholars are also part of the Saint Vincent Honors Community, an engaging and intellectual community of high-achieving students whose desire is to put their skills to use in the real world. Students interested in becoming an Aurelius Scholar should apply for their program through our Honors Community application. Please note: Honors Community applications are no longer being accepted for Fall 2021.


    For more information, contact the Director of Aurelius Scholars:
    Jason Jividen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Political Science 


Contact Us

Center for Political and Economic Thought

Phone: 724-805-2120 Ext. 2120