History and Mission
Established in 1979 by the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education and the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, The Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center is a nonpartisan institution devoted to teaching and research related to the United States Congress and more broadly to strengthening representative democracy through engaged and informed citizens.
The Center promotes academic inquiry into the history, structure, process, personnel and policies of the Congress, and the relationship between citizens and the Congress as well as other institutions in the American political system. In the most general sense, the Center is concerned with the health of our modern representative democracy. In pursuit of this goal, the Carl Albert Center performs three principal functions – teaching, research, and public service.
The Center offers academic programs in congressional studies at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, which are sponsored in cooperation with the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Political Science. In the four-year, specialized graduate fellowship, each student receives a fully financed program of study leading toward the doctoral degree. In the undergraduate research fellowship, students engage in collaborative research with political science faculty.
Believing that professional research is the foundation upon which its academic programs rest, the Center promotes original research by faculty members and students into various aspects of politics and the Congress. Further, the Center’s congressional archives provides a national resource available to historians, political scientists, the media and public interested in the study of Congress. Among the largest in the country, the archives includes the papers of 58 former members of Congress (14 senators and 44 representatives) and 20 additional collections of former legislative and political aides, journalists, scholars, and organizations.
Third, the Center actively strives to promote a wider understanding and appreciation of the Congress through its various public service programs. The Center sponsors conferences, seminars, and the biennial Julian J. Rothbaum Distinguished Lecture in Representative Government. Twice each year, the Center publishes Extensions, a journal which focuses on issues related to the Congress. Under the umbrella of the Women’s Leadership Initiative, the Center sponsors several programs designed to address the historic underrepresentation of women in politics, public service, and other leadership roles. The award-winning N.E.W. Leadership program, for example, is an intensive, five-day institute designed to educate, inspire, and empower Oklahoma’s undergraduate women to participate actively in politics and public service. The Center also provides numerous other opportunities in public service for undergraduate students through the Capitol Scholars, Community Scholars, and Civic Engagement programs.
Taken together, these diverse aspects of the Carl Albert Center constitute a unique resource for scholarship and research related to the United States Congress
The Carl Albert Center is a member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress; Harvard University’s National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement; and The NEW Leadership Development Network sponsored by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.