The Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University promotes inquiry into the principles and processes of free government and seeks to advance understanding of the responsibilities of statesmen and citizens of constitutional democratic societies.
Among the central concerns of the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good are:
- the inalienable rights of all humanity
- the principles of popular sovereignty and constitutionalism
- the nature and preservation of free political institutions
- the relationship among civil, economic and religious liberty
- the relationship between freedom and responsibility in democratic societies
- the nature of American federalism and the role of the states in preserving limited government
- the role of the representative in democratic government
- the idea of political and moral self-government
- America's role in the world vis a vis the principles of human rights and national sovereignty
- the application of principles of the American founding and Constitution to contemporary issues
- the application of the principles of the Pennsylvania Constitution to contemporary issues
In addressing these issues, the Matthew J. Ryan Center recognizes the primary place of Pennsylvania in the American founding and creation of the American republic. The Project supports studies in the political thought of America's founders and leading statesmen, including Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Wilson, and Lincoln, as well as thinkers who shaped the ideas of the American founders, such as Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Locke, and Montesquieu, or who have shaped the public mind over the course of American history, including Stowe and Kin.