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October 2020-April 2022

Past Federalism Conferences

These events were sponsored and made possible by the Utah Federalism Commission 


  • "Understanding Federalism": John Kincaid, John Dinan, and Jennifer Selin

  • "COVID-19 and the U.S. Constitution": John Vile, Robert Nagel, and Alan Tarr.

  • "Federalism, COVID-19, and Political Culture": Don Kettl, Greg Goelzhauser, Lance Sorenson, and Carl Scott.

  • "Federalism, Liberty, and Public Health": Keith Whittington, Ilya Somin, Carmel Shachar.

  • "The Politics and Economics of Re-opening": Walter Olson, Lauren Heller, Daniel J. Mallinson.

  • "State and Local Leadership During COVID-19": J. Edwin Benton, Nancy J. Knauer, Alexandra Cockerham, and Alan Greenblatt.

  • "American Federalism Looking Forward": Ernest Young, Gary Gerstle, and Troy Smith

Federalism on Trial: Lessons from COVID-19

OCTOBER 21-22 2020

Overview: Coronavirus has put American Federalism in the national and international spotlight. Join the Federalism Index Project and our partners as we explore the Constitutional, legal, and social challenges of COVID-19.   


  • "Federalism in Practice": Mark Rozell

  • "Voting and Elections": John Dinan and Alan Tarr

  • "Federalism in Practice": Akram Elias

  • "Federalism and the American Founding": Alan Guelzo

  • "Ideologies of Federalism ": Alison LaCroix

  • "Federalism and the Constitution 2021": Jennifer Selin and Ernest Young

  • "Fiscal Federalism and Economic Recovery": Brian Domitrovic and Erica Mackellar

  • "CCS Federalism Index Project Update": Andrew Bibby, Samuel Hill, and Kendra Savage

  • "Education​": Troy Smith, Austin Reid, and Kenneth Wong

  • "Energy Policy": Kristy Hartman

  • "Functional Federalism in Historical Perspective": Rob W. Bishop and Mike O. Leavitt

  • "Roles and Resources for Effective Intergovernmental Relation": Stacy Householder, Edgar Ruiz, Karla Jones, and Gary R. Herbert

  • "Federalism in Practice": John Kincaid

  • "Functional Federalism: A Collaborative Framework": Scott K. Saiki, Keven J. Stratton, and Karen Mayne

Overview: We live in challenging times. The American economic recovery is fragile, with a decline in production and levels of unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. The nation is reeling from a deadly pandemic that has cost more than 400,000 lives. There is widespread concern about voting and elections in America, the basic system by which we the people select our leaders. And underlying all these challenges is a pervasive concern that the blessings of liberty and opportunities for advancement are not equally available to all regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, and gender. Yet it is often said that every challenge is also an opportunity. In the depths of a Civil War that pitted brother against brother and claimed more than 600,000 lives, President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg foresaw a “new birth of liberty” emerging from the crisis. Struggling with our problems today, some have seen an opportunity to use the vast resources of the federal government to “build it back better”. This conference will address itself to how this might be done and, more particularly, to how state governments as well as the federal government might participate in that project. American federalism was a vital element in the success of our nation, and it can contribute to confronting the challenges we now face.

Functional Federalism  Academy

April 6-8, 2021

State Constitutions and American Federalism

November 3-4, 2021


  • "State Constitutions, Constitutionalism, and Federalism": John Dinan

  • "State Constitutions and American Political Development": Sean Beienburg, Silvana Siddali, and Robinson Woodward-Burns

  • "Guardians of Rights": Lawrence Friedman, Jonathan Marshfield, and John Dinan

  • "Intra- and Inter-State Conflicts": Lori Riverstone-Newell, Richard Briffault, and Josh Blackman

  • "Creation and Consequence: State Constitutional Amendments": Adam Brown, Nancy Martorano Miller, and Josh Altic

  • "What Do We Know, and How Do We Feel About Our State Constitutions?": Alan Tarr, J.H. Snider, and James Zink

Overview: Most Americans live under two constitutions—the United States Constitution and the constitution of the state in which they live. States and state constitutions are an essential part of a functioning federal system. What happens at the state level matters, and it matters even more as the nation becomes larger and more diverse. Join us for a far-ranging public discussion of the history, politics, and future of all 50 constitutions.

Federalism Facing Forward

April 7, 2022


  • "Public Lands": Dustin Jansen, Zoe Nemerever, and Karla Jones

  • "Education Policy—State and Federal Religious Liberty Protections in Conflict: the Future of Blaine Amendments": Steven Smith and John Meiser

Overview: The recent resurgence of interest in federalism, from both the American left and right, makes this an ideal time to examine the unique challenges facing Utah as it navigates an increasingly complex world of intergovernmental relations. This one-day mini-conference provides a glimpse into the possibilities and problems facing Utah in the areas of public land use and education policy. The Federalism Index Project is excited to be able to offer legislators, policymakers, and citizens a forum to develop ideas for how Utah, by virtue of its unique circumstances, can lead the way toward a model of federalism that is cooperative, not coercive, and that helps to shine a light on the virtues of a compound federal republic.

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