American Presidency Centre


The American Presidency Centre, established by the UCL Institute of the Americas (UCL-IA), is dedicated to the study of what is the world’s single most important political office.

It is the American presidency’s paradox of great power in the global context and constrained power at home that makes it such a fascinating subject for study. No president of the United States can hope to win office without a vision of how to change the nation and the world for the better. However, the office that he (or one day, she) inherits has been deliberately set within a system of institutional checks and balances intended to prevent presidential domination of government in pursuit of that vision.

The mission of UCL-IA’s American Presidency Centre is to participate in the ongoing debate about the presidency and its role in both American and world politics. It will not only engage in research and teaching on the presidency but also promote and facilitate scholarly research through hosting seminars and conferences on issues pertaining to this crucial institution. And it will do so in a multi-disciplinary framework that recognizes the importance of political, historical and cultural study of the presidency. Finally, it will engage in public outreach activities to provide talks on the presidency to schools and non-academic groups.

The director of the American Presidency Centre is Professor Iwan Morgan. He has long experience of teaching and researching the US Presidency and has published widely in the field. His monograph, The Age of Deficits: Presidents and Unbalanced Budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush (University of Kansas Press, 2009) won the American Politics Group’s Richard E. Neustadt Prize. He has also edited a number of presidential collections. Recent titles include: Presidents in the Movies: American History and Politics on Screen (Palgrave, 2011); (with Michael Genovese) Watergate Remembered: Its Legacy for American Politics (Palgrave, 2012); and (with Philip Davies) Broken Government? American Politics in the Obama Era (Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2012).

Professor Morgan also writes a regular blog, On the Economy, for the History News Network (HNN).

In 2010, he also conducted the first UK academic survey rating the performance of every US president from George Washington to George W. Bush. The results can be viewed at

Research on the presidency is also conducted by other US scholars in the areas of foreign policy, especially of the Franklin D. Roosevelt era (Tony McCulloch), the Civil War era presidency (Adam Smith), the presidency and nineteenth century foreign policy (David Sim), and presidents in the movies (Melvyn Stokes).

Regular updates of American Presidency Centre events will be posted on our events page. 

The rich programme of events for 2013-14 includes Scott Berg speaking on Woodrow Wilson, Sylvia Ellis on LBJ and civil rights, Randall Woods delivering the 2nd annual Richard E. Neustadt lecture on the American Presidency, and Tony Badger giving the 2nd annual Eleanor Roosevelt lecture.

Professor Morgan has played a leading role in establishing the new Presidential History Network.  Anyone interested in joining it can review its mission, activities and membership at

For further information, contact Iwan Morgan on