An introduction to the main themes of the American Constitution—popular sovereignty, separation of powers, federalism, and rights.
- Week 1 - Welcome!
This first module will help you get your bearings before diving into America's Written Constitution. You can watch a brief introduction to the course, learn about quizzes and writing assignments, and find out what you can look forward to learning. This section...
- Week 1 - In the Beginning
Ready to get started? Good. In this module, you'll take a guided tour of the Preamble and learn how one sentence changed the world.
- Week 1 - New Rules for a New World
In this module you will learn how geography, democracy, wealth, and race affected the structure of our legislative branch. Prof. Amar will explain the underlying factors behind decisions on Senatorial term limits, age qualifications, salaries and much more.
- Week 2 - Congressional Powers
This entire module is devoted to just one section of one article of the U.S. constitution. It is the longest, and arguably, most important section of The Document. Article 1, Section 8, enumerates the powers held by Congress. Join Professor Amar, as he discus...
- Week 2 - America's First Officer
In this module you'll find out what about George Washington made him so uniquely qualified for the task of being our nation's first president. Learn how his actions before, during, and after his time in office set precedents which are still followed today.
- Week 3 - Presidential Powers
As the title of this module suggests, you will be hearing about the specific powers held by the President of the United States. Learn how the presidential pardon is directly related to national security and why the veto power is nearly insurmountable. Prof. Am...
- Week 3 - Judges and Juries
The judicial branch of the U.S. today only vaguely resembles what framers had in mind. In this section you'll learn you about the decisions the men behind the judicial branch's expansion in power and in scale.
- Week 4 - States and Territories
Article 4 of the Constitution outlines the interrelationship between States and territories. In order for this emerging country to succeed, the framers knew states would need to start thinking of themselves as parts of the same whole. To achieve this, rules n...
- Week 4 - The Law of the Land
What's the difference between a treaty and a statute? Which takes precedent? In this module Prof. Amar takes you through article 7 of the Constitution. Along the way you'll learn the difference between laws, treaties, resolutions, and statutes. Learn how each ...
- Week 5 - Making Amends
Anti-Federalists, rejoice! This module's lectures go over the first ten amendments to America's constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights. These amendments contain some of the most iconic language contained in The Document. Freedom of Speech, the right to...
- Week 5 - New Birth of Freedom
This module, as we move forward both in text and in time. After the first 12 amendments to the constitution, 50 quiescent years pass before three new amendments are ratified in rapid succession. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution brou...
- Week 6 - Progressive Reforms
You may have noticed by now that amendments to the U.S. Constitution come in waves. In module 13 Professor Amar will go over the third wave to break. Amendments 16-19 made America's version of democracy more direct and more universal than ever before. The addi...
- Week 6 - Modern Moves
The surging Civil Right's Movement of the 1960's along with wars both cold and hot, made the political environment in the U.S. ripe for change. Prof. Amar explains out how amendments 23-26 continued making the United States' brand of democracy more universal a...
- Week 6 - Bonus Content Archive
This content is not tied to the assessment materials in any way, but it is interesting, entertaining and informative nonetheless. We encourage all learners to take some time to watch these videos and post about them in the discussion forums!
- Week 6 - Conclusion
Professor Amar hopes you will continue your journey through the U.S. Constitution by going beneath, beyond, and behind the text in AWC's sister course America's Unwritten Constitution. You'll learn of the traditions, court decisions, popular values, and prece...
Akhil Reed Amar
Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science
Yale Law School