Constitutions Lab

The Constitutions Lab initiative is designed to introduce students to real-world projects related to constitutional design.  The Lab draws on Professor Tom Ginsburg’s work with the Comparative Constitutions Project, an academic database on the formal provisions of national constitutions for all countries since 1789, and its Constitute initiative to provide information to constitutional drafters and national publics.  Ginsburg explained, “When we started the Comparative Constitutions Project, we had several academic goals in mind: to understand how constitutional ideas spread, to determine what makes constitutions endure, and to learn about what ultimately ensures that constitutions are effective.   But we also thought that the project might be useful to real-world constitution-makers.”

 In the past few years, data from the Comparative Constitutions Project has been used in support of constitutional transitions in several countries in Asia, the Middle East and East Africa.  Students have been involved in researching particular topics under Ginsburg’s direction, contributing to reports on draft texts, memos on background issues, and analyses of existing constitutional performance. Particular projects in any given year depend on what constitution-making processes are active.  For more information, please contact Professor Ginsburg at tginsburg@uchicago.edu.