Field Studies

This is the last in a series of five articles in our Life Together summer series. Alumni tell us that what makes the John Jay Institute so unique is the combination of five key components, the fifth of which are Field Studies.


 Gabriel Ozuna, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Yale University with a degree in History.

Gabriel Ozuna, Spring 2018 John Jay Fellow, graduated from Yale University with a degree in History.

Field Studies
By Gabriel Ozuna

Field studies are among the most important part of the John Jay experience. Over the course of our fellowship, we have had the opportunity to visit such iconic places as Valley Forge, Gettysburg, and Washington, D.C., as well as explore the unique contributions that Philadelphia has borne out as the first great American city. The historical component to the John Jay curriculum would be far diminished without the very active nature of these weekly excursions. There’s something awe-inspiring about literally walking through history and forming tangible connections to the past. If the purpose of John Jay is to “prepare principled leaders for public service,” visiting these “thin places” of American history goes a long way towards stirring the patriotic spirit that propels men to proper stewardship of the American ideal.

One is reminded of a pivotal scene in Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: “You see, boys forget what their country means by just reading The Land of the Free in history books. Then they get to be men they forget even more. Liberty's too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: ‘I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't, I can, and my children will.’ Boys ought to grow up remembering that.”

The Friday field study is an essential balance to the academic component we focus on Monday-Thursday, if only to remind us that ideas do have consequences, and that America, so far as it is a social contract, is a Burkean contract between the living, the dead, and the next generation. History, although without sides, is always unfolding before us. If we as an organization wish to continue to mold and influence the future of our nation’s culture and social fabric, it behooves us to study the past by paying homage to its venerable sites.

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