Society & Culture

UGA Honors student awarded James Madison Graduate Fellowship

Matt Tyler

Athens, Ga. – Matthew Tyler, a fourth-year University of Georgia Honors student and Foundation Fellow, has been awarded a 2014 James Madison Graduate Fellowship. The fellowship, awarded to only one person per state, is granted to students desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. Tyler intends to graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from the School of Public and International Affairs in May.

“Matt Tyler is one of those wonderful students who remind faculty members of why they wanted to become university teachers,” said Ronald Butchart, Distinguished Research Professor and head of the department of educational theory and practice in the College of Education. “He is unfailingly curious, strikingly insightful, insatiably challenging and invariably modest about his own abilities.”

The fellowships, awarded by the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation, are intended exclusively for graduate study leading to a master’s degree and cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board if the fellow is required to live away from home. The fellowship offers a maximum of $24,000 over the course of study.

Tyler intends to use this fellowship to pursue a master’s degree in social studies education at Columbia University. His passion for teaching began during the summers of 2010 and 2011, when he worked as a counselor at an environmental education camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It was there that he learned that students learn more through experiences than through memorizing names and dates in a book. Tyler has researched the impact of experiential learning on student outcomes and aims to put that research into practice as a social studies teacher in Georgia.

“Matt’s success in the Madison competition underscores how thoroughly he embraced the resources and opportunities at UGA and how thoroughly faculty and staff across campus have supported his research and civic endeavors,” said Jessica Hunt, Honors Program assistant director and major scholarships coordinator.

During his time at UGA, Tyler has been active on campus, working in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, the Honors Program and the College of Education as well as serving as the president of Students for Environmental Action and the Phi Kappa Literary Society. As the president of Students for Environmental Action, Tyler organized a light waste audit, co-organized a departmental bike share program and led petitioning campaigns and monthly volunteer events. As a research assistant in the College of Education, Tyler researched democratic values in the 21st century classroom and assessed experimental teaching of civic skills through teacher-supervised projects and group discussions.

Tyler also has been active in UGA’s study abroad programs and has participated in the China May term program through UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs and the UGA at Oxford program.

“I hope that the James Madison Fellowship will provide me with the same type of support that I have received from faculty, staff, and students at UGA,” Tyler said. “I will be connected to a network of extraordinary secondary social studies teachers before I even step foot in the classroom-something that is truly invaluable in the field of education.”

To learn more about the James Madison Graduate Fellowship, see