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The McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy Hosts Inaugural Summer Fellowship Program


This past summer, the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy held its inaugural Summer Fellowship Program. The program was open to students who wanted to pursue an internship placement in a field that reflected and advanced the mission of the McCullen Center, specifically in the areas of constitutional law, the role of religion in civil society, and the promotion of human dignity and the common good. The program also offered research assistantships to students who wished to conduct research projects under faculty supervision on issues related to the intersection of law, religion and public policy.

“Our inaugural summer fellowship program could not have come at a better time,” said Michael P. Moreland, University Professor of Law and Religion and Director of the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy. “While students were struggling to secure meaningful summer work because of the pandemic, this fellowship program allowed students a new opportunity to participate in valuable internships and research projects.”

All Villanova University students, including law, graduate and undergraduate students, were encouraged to apply for the paid fellowship positions. In response to the challenges posed to summer employment due to the ongoing pandemic, the McCullen Center was able to expand the original scope of its program to offer a total of 18 fellowships. Six students secured internship placements and 12 research assistants were granted to support the work of the McCullen Center and its affiliated faculty.


Here is what some of the McCullen Summer Fellows had to say about their experiences: 


Jillian Brennan ’21 CWSL
Research Assistant

“Like many other law students, my summer associate position was impacted due to the global pandemic. Once I learned this, I immediately started seeking out other opportunities to keep my legal skills sharp and support myself financially. I have always been fascinated by the interplay of law and religion in our country. I worked as a Research Assistant for Professor Moreland which allowed me to dig my teeth into some fascinating First Amendment issues and hone my legal research, writing and editing skills. Now that I have been an RA, I recommend every law student seek out the experience. As an RA, you have the opportunity to learn unique legal concepts from an unbiased angle.”


Nicolas Burnosky ’22 CWSL
Research Assistant

“My most significant research projects included providing summaries of the Supreme Court’s most recent First Amendment cases as well as the Supreme Court’s landmark cases starting from 100 years ago with Schenck v. United States (1919). Additionally, I researched the Center’s namesake Supreme Court case, McCullen v. Coakley (2014), and provided a summary of it. Overall, I am proud to have worked alongside a great Center led by great people!”



Zachary Epstein ’21 CWSL
Research Assistant

“I conducted research on religious arbitration practices around the world, focusing primarily on North America, the U.K. and the European Union. This project allowed me to explore the intersection of law and religion and exposed me to the religious traditions and legal systems of other countries. I was also able to work closely with the Villanova Law Library staff, who introduced me to some amazing research tools that I utilized for the first time through my McCullen Center work.”


Nathaniel Grimes, CLAS PhD Candidate
Research on Policing and Christian Ethics

“When I applied for this fellowship in February, I certainly did not foresee the radical shifts which were about to take place in the national conversation on policing. This fellowship was crucial in my intellectual development, allowing me the time and space to reflect on ongoing developments in scholarship and activism and to investigate what tools exist in the practice of academic Christian ethics to help us understand and transform the unjust social relations upheld by current practices of policing. The work I was able to accomplish this summer has helped me synthesize the key questions and concerns which will be the foundation for my dissertation.”


Andrew Klee ’22 CWSL
Internship with the New Civil Liberties Alliance, Fund for American Studies

"This summer, I worked as a law clerk for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a non-profit law firm in Washington, D.C., focused on scaling back the administrative state. I had the chance to assist litigators by drafting legal memoranda on cutting-edge issues of constitutional and administrative law and even contributing to briefs filed with the court. In addition to financial support provided by the McCullen Center, the Fellowship concluded with a Q&A session with Judge Thomas Hardiman on the Third Circuit, which was a unique and beneficial part of the program."


Bernard Zitzewitz ’21 CLAS
Research Internship on Regulatory Policy with Professor Sutirtha Bagchi, The Diana & James Yacobucci ’73 Assistant Professor, Economics

“My fellowship gave me the opportunity to study the intersection of politics and economics during this time of uncertainty. Working remotely with Dr. Sutirtha Bagchi, I gained insight into some of the most pressing questions in tax economics. I also learned more about the research process in economics, which prepared me for a potential graduate career in the field of Economics. I completed this internship with a research paper that showed my findings over the course of this summer.”


Additional McCullen Center 2020 Summer Fellows

  • Erin Blechschmidt ’22 CWSL, Research Assistant
  • Amanda Day ’22 CWSL, Research Assistant
  • Brendan Donoghue ’22 CLAS, Internship with the Federalist Society, Fund for American Studies
  • Amanda Harding ’22 CWSL, Research Assistant
  • Christine Kager ’22 CWSL, Research Assistant
  • Timothy Long ’20 CLAS, Research Assistant
  • Joseph Macy ’22 CWSL, Research Assistant
  • Matthew Oakley ’22 CWSL, Research Assistant
  • John Reid ’22 CWSL, Research Assistant
  • Kirsten Reilly ’21 CWSL, Internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee (Internship delayed due to ongoing pandemic)
  • Patrick Smith ’21 CWSL, Research Assistant
  • Caroline Summers ’23 CLAS, Congressional Internship with the National Student Leadership Forum (Internship delayed due to ongoing pandemic)