Faculty Spotlight

Faculty

Christopher Burkett is Associate Professor of Political Science at Ashland University. He teaches American political thought and institutions courses, and his fields of expertise include the American founding, American foreign policy, and political philosophy. He serves as faculty advisor to Student Senate, and was named Outstanding Male Faculty Member of the Year in 2008. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Ashland University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in politics from the University of Dallas.

James Madison Fellowship

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship is an excellent program that provides $24,000 scholarships to social studies teachers pursuing or wishing to pursue their master's degree. Becoming a Madison Fellow is a great way to fund your studies in the MA programs in American History and Government at Ashland University. Detailed information about the program is available on-line at www.JamesMadison.com. The online fellowship application is also available on their web site.

Ashland's MAHG and MASTAHG programs work very well with the Madison Fellowship. As a Madison Fellow, you will participate in a four-week long program at Georgetown University in the second summer of your Fellowship. You receive six credits for this program. This credit will be accepted for transfer to Ashland and will count toward your MA degree requirements.

Several members of our faculty and staff have had the pleasure of serving as readers of Madison Fellowship applications in past years. Based on this experience, the following is some advice to students in our MA programs who are applying to be a Madison Fellow.

  • Take advantage of every opportunity you have to talk about yourself in the application. Dont leave any questions blank. Get as close to the word limit as you can on the long-answer questions. Give the application readers the opportunity to get to know you through your answers.
  • When talking about why you chose teaching, be sure to explain both why you started teaching and what your long-term plans are. You should demonstrate your commitment to classroom teaching, assuming it is the case, and if you plan to stay in the classroom for your entire career, be sure to make that clear.
  • Identify the university (Ashland University) and the program (Master of Arts in American History and Government or Master of Arts with a Specialization in Teaching American History and Government) you will attend to fulfill your requirements as a Madison Fellow. You are asked about courses focusing on the Constitution. Be sure to list particular courses, including course numbers, that you will take in the MA program to fulfill this requirement. Many courses in our MA programs meet this requirement. The following three required core courses meet the requirement:

AHG 502: The American Founding
AHG 503: Sectionalism and Civil War
AHG 505: The Progressive Era

In addition, the following elective courses also meet the requirement:

AHG 632: The American Presidency I: Washington to Lincoln
AHG 633: The American Presidency II: Johnson to Present
AHG 640: The Congress
AHG 641: The Supreme Court 

  • In your essay about the Constitution, you may want to talk about the importance of the Constitution to us as a people, its importance to you, and its importance to your students and your teaching. If you teach the Constitution in your courses, talk about how you do it.

  • There is a question asking if you have any further information that you would like to share with the selection committee. Do not leave this question blank. Use this to say things about yourself that you have not had a chance to say already. Perhaps talk about your dedication to teaching. If it is relevant, discuss any special circumstances that demonstrate your need for the fellowship. If you teach high-need students, perhaps talk about how this fellowship will help you teach them better.
  • For your letters of recommendation, submit all three. Try to get at least one letter from a professor who can talk about your ability to carry out graduate coursework. If you are getting one from one of our professors, it is best to ask them during one of your courses with them at Ashland. Also, letters from previous Madison Fellows who have already gone through the Madison summer institute at Georgetown are especially useful.

One important thing to remember is that the selections for the Madison Fellowships are made by state. Typically, there is at least one fellow and one alternate selected from each state. You are competing only against the applicants from your state.

Many people who are not selected in the first or second year are accepted in a later year. Don't be discouraged if you are not accepted your first, second, or even third time around. If you are accepted as an alternate, you can easily re-submit your application the next year through a form from the Madison Foundation. You can write a half-page or so about what you have done in the past year to update their information on the application. This is a good way to re-apply because it makes clear to the application readers that last years readers thought you were good enough to be an alternate, which will give you a slight leg up on your application.

If you are listing Ashland University as the university you will attend with your Madison Fellowship, our program staff would be glad to read through a draft of your application. Just e-mail a draft of your essays to cpascare@ashland.edu. One of our staff will review your essays and reply with advice.