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, the 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.

Areas of Focus image

Center Leadership:

Dr. Elizabeth Kaufer-Busch
Dr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch, Co-Director of CAS and Associate Professor of American StudiesDr. Elizabeth Kaufer Busch is founder and Co-Director of the Center for American Studies, Associate Professor of American Studies, and Coordinator of American Studies in the Department of Leadership and American Studies. She received a Ph.D. in political science from Michigan State University with specializations in modern and American political thought.  Prior to coming to CNU, she was Assistant Professor of Government at Berry College. Her 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 The Transformation of Title IX (forthcoming 2017).

Dr. Nathan BuschDr. Nathan E. Busch, Co-Director of CAS and Professor of GovernmentDr. Nathan E. Busch is Co-Director of the Center for American Studies and Professor of Government. He received 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.  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).


  • Dr. Jeffry Morrison, Professor of American Studies and CAS Senior Fellow
  • Dr. Jonathan White, Associate Professor of American Studies and CAS Senior Fellow
  • Dr. Michelle Kundmueller, Assistant Professor of American Studies and CAS Fellow
  • Frank Garmon, Visiting Assistant Professor of American Studies and Post-Doctoral Fellow
  • Dr. Austen Givens, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity, Utica College, and CAS Research Fellow
  • Dr. Bill White, CAS program coordinator

Center for American Studies Board of Advisors

  • Co-Chair: Major General David Whaley (US Army, Ret.), CEO, Archigos, LLC
  • Co-Chair: Derek Jenkins, Corporate Director of Security and Emergency Management, Huntington Ingalls Industries
  • Larry Battle, CEO, Consolidated Logistics Center
  • Jon Chambers, Senior Associate, Kimley-Horn
  • Robert Conley, Global Security Director of Operations, PRA Group
  • Robert Fitzgerald, CEO, TBG, LLC
  • Ken Fortune, President, LEO Government Consulting
  • Michael John, Chancellor's Executive Communications Director, UNC Chapel Hill
  • Elizabeth Mayo, Associate Director, Verizon Wireless
  • Pete Walker, President, PV Walker, Inc.
  • Jeff Wassmer, CEO, Spectrum Communications, Inc.
  • RDML Bradley Williamson (U.S. Navy, ret.), COO, ITA International
  • Colonel Jerry Wright (USAF, Ret.), Director, Air Force Programs, Nexutech

"The major in American Studies has provided me with a rich, in-depth civic education about America's founding principles. In my classes, close readings and analysis of important political texts have enriched my knowledge about the origins of this country and how we have evolved. In studying works written by some of America's greatest politicians, philosophers, and activists, I have developed enhanced perspectives on the history and evolution of social, political, and economic institutions in this country. It has truly been an invaluable component of my undergraduate experience." 
~ Scott Bledsoe, American Studies and Political Science double major (CAS Junior Fellow Fall 2015-Spring 2016)

"The Center for American Studies has provided me with opportunities I never could have hoped for if I had gone to a different school. Not only does the Center bring in interesting and engaging speakers, but it gives students the opportunity to network at events like their Annual Conference on America's Founding Principles and History and the Symposium for Homeland Security and Defense. I also have had the opportunity to work as a Junior Fellow with the Center. In doing this I have received both practical and research experience that most undergrads do not have the chance to get." 
~ Elizabeth (Lili) Samios, AMST and Economics Double Majors and Leadership and Political Science minor (CAS Junior Fellow, Fall 2015-Spring 2016)

"The Center for American Studies has been an amazing resource on key issues concerning the United States. Whether it be Constitution Day debates or The Symposium for Homeland Security and Defense, the Center has hosted events that really help to inform students on current issues. Before I even became a Junior Fellow for the Center I went to virtually all of the Center's events, as I saw them a crucial outside-of-the-classroom learning opportunities. Now that I am a Junior Fellow, I appreciate them even more, as I not only get to learn from our many speakers, but also get first hand contact with them before and after the event. These are wonderful networking opportunities, and my career will benefit enormously from it."
~ Nathan Sieminski, English and Political Science Double-Major, with minors in Leadership and US National Security Studies (Junior Fellow, Fall 2015-2016)

Our Current Junior Fellows:




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.

Purchase this book. Follow on Facebook.

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

Democracy Reconsidered Book CoverIn 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.

Purchase this book.