About Us

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


The CAS is an interdisciplinary, nonpartisan center dedicated to teaching and scholarship on America’s founding principles and history, economic foundations, and national security. We are committed to ensuring that Christopher Newport University is known as a premier liberal arts institution where students can study the classical and modern foundations of American constitutionalism, republicanism, rule of law, free enterprise and individual liberty in order to develop sensible notions of liberty and civic responsibility.


As a nonpartisan center, the CAS builds upon CNU’s strength as a classical liberal arts institution. Our 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
Advisory Board



Elizabeth Kaufer-Busch

Dr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch

Founder and co-director
Laura and Pete Walker Professor of American Studies

Dr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch earned a PhD in political science from Michigan State University with specializations in modern and American political thought. Prior to coming to Christopher Newport, she was assistant professor of government at Berry College. She also serves on the board of directors of the Jack Miller Center for Founding American Principles and History and the Washington, Jefferson, and Madison Institute.

Kaufer Busch’s research focuses on American political philosophy, the U.S. system of government and the evolution of women’s movements in America. She has published articles, book chapters, and scholarly studies on these subjects and is co-author or co-editor of Democracy Revisited: Essays on the American Regime (2009), Civic Education and the Future of American Citizenship (2012), and Title IX: The Transformation of Sex Discrimination in Education (2018). She is director of the American studies program in the Department of Leadership and American Studies at CNU.

Kaufer Busch was the recipient of the 2012 Alumni Society Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring, which is presented by CNU Alumni Society to one faculty member annually as the University’s highest honor.

Nathan Busch

Dr. Nathan E. Busch

Professor of Political Science

Dr. Nathan E. Busch earned a PhD 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.

In addition to numerous scholarly articles and reports, his recent books include The Business of Counterterrorism: Public-Private Partnerships in Homeland Security (2014), The Routledge Handbook of Nuclear Proliferation and Policy (2015), and The Politics of Weapon Inspections: Assessing WMD Monitoring and Verification Regimes (2017). His most recent book, Homeland Security: An Introduction, is forthcoming in 2021 with Oxford University Press.

Busch was the recipient of the 2017 Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship and the 2017 Alumni Society Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring, which is presented by the Alumni Society to one faculty member annually as the University’s highest honor.


Frank Garmon

Dr. Frank W. Garmon Jr.

Faculty fellow

Assistant professor of American studies

Garmon specializes in American political economy. He has published articles in the Journal of the Early Republic, Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History and The Social Science Journal.

Garmon studied history and economics at Christopher Newport University, before completing his MA and PhD in history at the University of Virginia. For his dissertation research, Garmon sampled state property tax records to measure changes in wealth after the American Revolution. His book project, “The Price of Liberty: How the Constitution Created a Nation of Taxpayers,” considers how the debates over direct taxation shaped the development of American federalism.

Jeffry Morrison

Dr. Jeffry Morrison

Faculty fellow

Professor of American studies
Director of academics, James Madison Foundation

Morrison graduated with distinction from Boston College and Georgetown University, where he earned the MA and PhD in government. He has held faculty positions at Princeton University, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Georgetown University and Regent University.

Morrison has published as author or editor five books on American political culture, including The Political Philosophy of George Washington (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009); and chapters, articles, and reviews in numerous scholarly publications in fields including history, political science, and religion. He has lectured at colleges and historic sites throughout the United States and in England (Hertford College, Oxford), and made media appearances on radio, in journalism, and on television (C-SPAN and the BBC).

Jonathan White

Dr. Jonathan W. White

Faculty fellow

Associate professor of American studies

White is author or editor of 12 books and more than 100 articles, essays and reviews about the Civil War. His book, Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln, was named a best book of 2014 by Civil War Monitor, was a finalist for both the Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the Jefferson Davis Prize, and won the Abraham Lincoln Institute’s 2015 book prize. Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War was named a best book of 2017 by Civil War Monitor. Our Little Monitor: The Greatest Invention of the Civil War, co-authored with Anna Gibson Holloway, was a finalist for the Indie Book Awards and honorable mention for the John Lyman Book Award.

White is a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and serves on the boards of directors of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, the Abraham Lincoln Association and the Lincoln Forum. He also serves on the board of advisors of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia, the Ford’s Theatre Advisory Council and the editorial board of the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.

White was the recipient of Christopher Newport's 2016 Alumni Society Award for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring and the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the highest award given to college faculty in the commonwealth.

Jonathan White

Robert Colby

Postdoctoral fellow

Visiting assistant professor in the Department of Leadership and American Studies

Colby is an historian of slavery, the American Civil War and the 19-century United States. After graduating with high distinction from the University of Virginia, he earned his MA and PhD from the University of North Carolina. Prior to arriving at Christopher Newport, he taught courses at Elon University and UNC, where he earned an award as an outstanding instructor.

Colby's research explores the lives of Americans living during the Civil War era. His current book project explores the domestic slave trade during the Civil War and is under contract with Oxford University Press. He has published in the Journal of the Civil War Era, the Journal of the Early Republic (forthcoming) and The Lincoln Forum Bulletin. He has also published on the memory of the American Civil War in a volume offering global perspectives on reconciliation following civil wars. Colby's broader research agenda examines the experiences of enslaved and free people of color in the United States, with a particular focus on their engagement with law, the Constitution, commerce and politics.

Colby is the recipient of several awards, including the Society of American Historians' Allan Nevins Prize and both the Anne J. Bailey Dissertation Prize and Anthony E. Kaye Memorial Essay Award from the Society of Civil War Historians. He was also a finalist for the Southern Historical Association's C. Vann Woodward award. He has won research grants from the Center for the Study of the American South, John L. Nau Center for Civil War History, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, North Caroliniana Society, and Rose Library at Emory University.

At Christopher Newport, Colby teaches courses on the evolution of American democracy, the interation of slavery and democratic life in the United States, emancipation during the Civil War, and enslavement and the law in America.

Junior Fellows

Students engage in original research with a CAS faculty mentor, present research at academic conferences, receive training in archival research and copy editing, and assist with programming. Email the co-directors to apply.

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