Teaching U.S. Constitutional Design: The Case of the "Genovian Revolution"

06 February 2023, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Instructors often lament that their students possess a distorted understanding of the U.S. Constitution. Students often initially fail to appreciate how power, group interests, and conflictual processes have shaped American political institutions and their long-term effects. To foster a view of U.S. Constitutional design that better reflects the core insights of contemporary political science, I introduce a two-week constitutional convention simulation that centers on the fictional Principality of Genovia. Working in groups, students assume roles within various segments of Genovian society who seek democratic representation following the sudden abdication of their autocratic prince. The simulation is designed to foreshadow key concepts in American government and politics. It also provides a collaborative, active learning environment. In a pre-post survey instrument, I test the effectiveness of the Genovian simulation in fostering key learning outcomes vis-a-vis several other classroom modules, finding that the Genovian exercise is beneficial to students on several dimensions.


Constitutional design
classroom activity
active learning


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