Washington, D.C.—In partnership with Pembroke College at the University of Oxford, Utah Valley University (UVU) announced Tuesday the launch of the Quill Project, www.quillproject.net, a groundbreaking new research platform that recreates in its entirety the original context of historic negotiated texts such as constitutions, treaties, and legislation. The presentation of the complete known records of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that resulted in the United States Constitution is its flagship project. The official launch and a demonstration of the platform will be conducted today at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, with participation by Utah Senator Mike Lee. The unveiling can be watched online at facebook.com/UtahValleyUniversity.
“I am immensely proud of our students’ contribution to this remarkable, even historic project, which provides a significant learning tool to everyday students as well as scholars looking to delve more deeply into negotiated texts,” said Matthew Holland, president of UVU. “We have been honored to work with such an esteemed institution as Pembroke College in bringing this platform to the public. This collaboration by our Center for Constitutional Studies beautifully illustrates our defining commitment to engaged learning, which immerses students in real-world activities outside the classroom to increase professional competence and confidence.”
Created by Dr. Nicholas Cole of Pembroke College at the University of Oxford, with significant research conducted by students at Pembroke College and at Utah Valley University’s Center for Constitutional Studies, the Quill Project gives people a way to visualize the complexity involved in creating a negotiated text such as the U.S. Constitution, recreating what it was like to be present in the room and witness what was being discussed at the time of the text’s creation. Using bespoke software, the Quill Project is able to capture and fully render the textual creation of these historic documents in an accessible way, showing how the drafting process informed and shaped the final document.
“Nearly every American is familiar with the basics of the U.S. Constitution, but few people understand the extensive negotiations behind its making,” said Dr. Cole, a senior research fellow at Pembroke College. “Thanks to a unique collaboration with the students at UVU’s Center for Constitutional Studies, we’ve been able to provide some much-needed insight and context into what went on during the Constitutional Convention, and how it led to the historic document we know today. We look forward to working with the UVU team on further projects exploring the basis of American Constitutional Law.”
A comprehensive, first-of-its kind research tool, the Quill Project aims to increase constitutional literacy for everyone, as well as provide deeper insights for constitutional scholars by providing a sweeping and in-depth look at the many documents, discussions and proposals that led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution.
“The study of the Constitution is highly personal for me and my family as my late father was the Solicitor General of the United States under President Reagan and my brother is a sitting supreme court justice on the Utah Supreme Court,” said Senator Lee. “I highly commend this unique transatlantic partnership between our great Utah Valley University and the world’s most famous and established institution of higher education, Oxford University. I believe the Quill Project can play a significant role in improving constitutional literacy across the world.”
A variety of other projects for Quill are planned or in progress. Currently, a group of UVU’s constitutional studies students is researching the presentation of the Salt Lake Convention 1895 records, which led to the creation of the Utah Constitution.