ABOUT THE CENTER
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 stateswomen, and citizens of constitutional democratic societies.
Among the animating 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 principles of the free market and the preservation of economic liberty
· the nature and preservation of religious liberty
· the relationship among civil, economic and religious liberty
· the institutions of civil society and their importance to liberty and the public good
· the relationship between freedom and responsibility in democratic societies
· 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
· the nature of American federalism and the role of the states in preserving limited government
· the role of representation in democratic government
· the ideas of political and moral self-government
· the relationship between liberal education and good citizenship
· free speech and freedom of thought and inquiry
· America's role in the world vis-à-vis the principles of human rights and national sovereignty
In addressing these concerns, the Matthew J. Ryan Center recognizes the primary place of Pennsylvania in the American founding and creation of the American republic. The Center supports studies in the political thought of America's founders and leading statesmen & stateswomen, as well as thinkers who shaped the ideas of the American founders, and thinkers who have advanced the principles of free government at specific moments of American history.
The Matthew J. Ryan Center honors the distinguished graduate of Villanova University and Villanova Law School, Matthew J. Ryan, who served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for over 40 years. During his tenure in the House, he held the position of Majority and Minority Whip, Majority and Minority Leader, and from 1995 until 2003 he served as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Prior to public service, Matt Ryan worked as a teacher. Throughout his life he believed that civic education is essential to the maintenance of a strong democratic citizenry and the perpetuation of a free society.