Introduction to American Government: Foundations of Freedom–A College Credit Course for High School Students

January 24-11, 2023
7-8:30pm EST, Tuesdays & Thursdays

Introduction to American Government: Foundations of Freedom

This distinctive online course is an introduction to the American government and is considered a college-level course offered through Washington College, taught by ISI-affiliated faculty member Professor Joseph Prud’homme. Professor Prud’homme is the Director of the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College.

This course examines the foundations of the United States Constitution, American political culture, and the dynamics of American politics. Along the way, special focus will be placed on the meaning of freedom in the United States. Space is limited to 12 promising students to ensure a seminar learning experience with extensive discussion and dialogue of the assigned texts and concepts. Many prominent guest speakers will join Professor Prud’homme in instructing this course, including Tom West of Hillsdale College, among others.

  • How long is the course?
    • The course is a 15-week course, with one week for Spring break. It will run from Tuesday, January 24th, 2023, to Thursday, May 11th, 2023. The course will meet online/virtually every Tuesday and Thursday from 7-8 pm EST. There will be 28 sessions in total.
  • Is this a for-credit course?
    • Upon completion of this course, students will earn 4 college credits from Washington College, transferrable to the college of their choice (to be verified and accepted by that college upon acceptance and enrollment).
  • Who should apply?
    • High school juniors and seniors.
  • How much does it cost?
    • The total cost of the course is $2000. Upon acceptance to the course, students will receive a $250 scholarship from ISI, and another $250 scholarship from Washington College, bringing the final cost down to $1,500 per student.
  • What is the platform for the course?
    • Washington College uses Canvas as its course platform.
  • What are the assigned texts, where do I get them, and how much will they cost?
    • Accepted and enrolled students will receive complimentary copies of the following foundational texts:
      • The Constitution of the United States of America
      • Madison’s Notes on the Constitutional Debates
      • The Federalist Papers
      • The Writings of the Antifederalists
      • The Collected Speeches of Abraham Lincoln
      • The Collected Writings and Speeches of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • The course will total at least 45 classroom hours, as students will have individualized tutorials in the Oxford mode/style with Professor Prud’homme in addition to regular course meetings.


For further questions, please email Dr. Joseph Prud’homme at or Ashley Kondracki at

Professor Joseph Prud'homme

Joseph Prud’homme is the Burton Family Chair in Religion, Politics, and Culture and Associate Professor of Political Science and Affiliated Faculty member in Religious Studies. Professor Prud’homme is the founding Director of the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College. He received his doctorate from Princeton University, where he studied in the Interdepartmental Program in Political Philosophy, with additional specialization in constitutional law and religious studies. He was awarded a Fellowship at Harvard University, where he studied at the Harvard Law School and served as a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He has also held a Visiting Fellowship at the University of Oxford.

Professor Prud’homme works in the areas of political philosophy, legal theory, intellectual history and religious studies. He has published numerous works in these fields, including the books Religion and Politics in America from the Colonial Period to the Civil War; Curriculum and the Culture Wars: Debating the Bible’s Place in Public Schools (with Melissa Deckman of Washington College); State Religious Education and the State of Religious Life (with Liam Gearon of the University of Oxford); the chapter on Religion and Education for the Palgrave Handbook on Religion and the State; and numerous peer-reviewed articles.

He regularly teaches introductory courses in political theory; upper level courses in political thought; upper level courses in constitutional law and legal philosophy; and courses in Western religious traditions. Through the Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture he is the series editor of the international peer-reviewed book series, Washington College Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture. He also co-directs the Washington College Presidential Fellows track, “The Great Questions.”  

He earned two bachelors degrees with three majors and a minor at Texas A&M University, where he graduated magna cum laude and with an honors certificate. His undergraduate thesis (“Kant’s Moral Argument for the Existence of God”) was awarded the Texas A&M Thesis Prize.

He directs a partnership between Washington College’s Institute for Religion, Politics, and the University of Oxford and regularly takes students to Prague and Vienna and on study tours of the monstrous death camps in Auschwitz.  

He is a frequent guest lecturer nationally and internationally.

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