The Center for American Studies (CAS) was formed in 2007 to respond to the growing lack of civic literacy among college students and citizens. The Center’s goal is to educate the next generation towards becoming enlightened leaders and responsible citizens in order to better secure the U.S. future.


The Center is an interdisciplinary initiative that promotes teaching and scholarship on America’s founding principles and history, economic foundations, and national security. CAS undertakes these tasks in order to promote sensible notions of liberty and a civic responsibility to defend that liberty locally and globally.


As a non-partisan center, CAS builds upon CNU’s strength as a classical liberal arts institution. CAS’s goals and activities include:
  • Enhancing CNU’s undergraduate curriculum in American Studies, Constitutional Studies, and U.S. National Security Studies;
  • Supporting undergraduate and faculty scholarship that advance understanding of the American Experiment in economic and political liberty;
  • Sponsoring postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars;
  • Holding annual conferences and national security workshops; 
  • Developing student internship programs.

The Center for American Studies has worked to initiate innovative programs exploring America’s foundational principles, economic system, and defense policy. The Center focuses on three areas: American founding principles and history, the Moral Foundations of Capitalism, and U.S. National Security Studies.

American Founding Principles and History
In order to understand why America is worth defending, Center programming examines the uniqueness of America’s experiment in democracy, self-governance, and individual liberties. CAS emphasizes analysis of America’s foundational texts, including the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the philosophical texts that influenced the founders; the Supreme Court’s interpretation of these documents; and the history and role of these ideals in shaping America.

The Moral Foundations of Capitalism
Recognizing that free minds and free markets are related, Center activities explore the link between political freedom and economic freedom, and the role of government in a free society. CAS recognizes free enterprise and a capitalist economic system as foundational elements of the original American Experiment and critically analyzes the evolving role of these institutions in America and the wider global community.

U.S. National Security Studies
The Center’s programming also focuses on the history and evolution of U.S. national security policies, the current threats facing the United States, and the political and military mechanisms for addressing those threats. The Center places particular emphasis on the new dimensions of national security, including WMD proliferation, terrorism, homeland security, intelligence and counterinsurgency operations, and energy security.

Center Leadership:

Dr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch, Co-Director of CAS and Associate Professor of American Studies

elizabeth_buschDr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch is founder and Co-Director of CAS, and an Associate Professor of American Studies at CNU.  She received a Ph.D. in political science from Michigan State University with specializations in modern and American political thought.  She played a leading role in designing CNU’s major and minor in American Studies. Prior to coming to CNU, she was an Assistant Professor of Government at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Her research focuses on American political thought, the U.S. governmental system, and the evolution of women's movements in America. She has published articles, book chapters, and scholarly studies on these subjects and is editor of Democracy Revisited (Lexington Press, 2009).

Dr. Nathan E. Busch, Co-Director of CAS and Associate Professor of Government

Dr. Nathan Busch Portrait Dr. Nathan E. Busch is Co-Director of CAS and an Associate Professor of Government at CNU.  He received an M.A. in political science from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto with specializations in international relations and political philosophy.  Prior to coming to CNU, he held positions at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Harvard University, and the University of Georgia.  Dr. Busch has published widely in the field of international security and is a specialist in WMD proliferation and terrorism. He is author of No End in Sight: The Continuing Menace of Nuclear Proliferation (University of Kentucky Press, 2004), and editor of Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of International Nonproliferation Policy (University of Georgia Press, 2009). 


                            • Dr. Jonathan White, CAS Fellow, Assistant Professor of  American Studies
                            • Website:

                            • Dr. Andy Bibby, CAS Post Doctoral Fellow
                            • Dr. Dustin Gish, CAS Post Doctoral Fellow
                            • Dr. Carl Scott, CAS Post Doctoral Fellow

Executive Committee

Center for American Studies Board of Advisors

Center for American Studies Publications                                                                                                   

Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman by Dr. Jonathan White

Jonathan White Book Cover On May 25, 1861, Union military authorities arrested a Maryland farmer named John Merryman on charges of treason against the United States.  Merryman was suspected of burning railroad bridges around Baltimore in April 1861 in an effort to prevent northern soldiers from reaching the endangered national capital.  From his prison cell at Fort McHenry, in Baltimore harbor, Merryman attempted to secure his own release by petitioning Chief Justice Roger B. Taney for a writ of habeas corpus.  Taney issued the writ, but President Abraham Lincoln ignored it and continued to hold Merryman in close confinement.  Upon his release from the fort in mid-July, Merryman was indicted for treason in a federal court in Baltimore, but his case never went to trial.  Federal prosecutors finally dismissed the case in 1867, two years after the close of the war.

Historians traditionally portray the story of John Merryman’s arrest as a conflict between President Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney over the nature of executive power and individual rights in wartime.  In Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War, Jonathan W. White reveals how the arrest and prosecution of this little-known Baltimore farmer had a lasting impact on the Lincoln administration and Congress as they struggled to develop policies to restore the Union.  This engagingly written book sheds significant new light on several perennially controversial legal and constitutional issues in American history, including the nature and extent of presidential war powers, the development of national policies for dealing with disloyalty and treason, and the protection of civil liberties in wartime.  Indeed, the historical issues Dr. White raises have tremendous relevance for 21st-century Americans who are concerned about civil liberties in wartime, the unchecked expansion of executive power, the privacy of passengers during airport screenings, or the legality of detaining enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay.

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Democracy Reconsidered by Dr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch and Dr. Peter Augustine Lawler

Democracy Reconsidered Book Cover In 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch, Associate Professor of American Studies and Co-Director of the Center for American Studies, along with Dr. Peter Augustine Lawler, published Democracy Reconsidered.  The book focuses on the study of democracy in America's post-modern context. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch and Peter Augustine Lawler explore some of the foundational principles of democracy as they have been borne out in American society. The essays included in this volume examine the lessons that novelists, philosophers, and political theorists have for democratic societies as they progress towards postmodern skepticism or even disbelief in the absolute principles that form the foundation of democracies.  

Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Future of International Nonproliferation Policy By Dr. Nathan Busch and Dr. Daniel Joyner

busch_joynerThe spread of weapons of mass destruction poses one of the greatest threats to international peace and security in modern times—the specter of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons looms over relations among many countries. The September 11 tragedy and other terrorist attacks have been painful warnings about gaps in nonproliferation policies and regimes, specifically with regard to nonstate actors.

In this volume, experts in nonproliferation studies examine challenges faced by the international community and propose directions for national and international policy making and lawmaking. The first group of essays outlines the primary threats posed by WMD proliferation and terrorism. Essays in the second section analyze existing treaties and other normative regimes, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons and Biological Weapons Conventions, and recommend ways to address the challenges to their effectiveness. Essays in part three examine the shift some states have made away from nonproliferation treaties and regimes toward more forceful and proactive policies of counterproliferation, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, which coordinates efforts to search and seize suspect shipments of WMD-relatedmaterials.

Nathan E. Busch and Daniel H. Joyner have gathered together many leading scholars in the field to provide their insights on nonproliferation—an issue that has only grown in importance since the end of the cold war.

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