Constitutional Democracy

Founded in 2014, the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy is an interdisciplinary signature academic center at Mizzou dedicated to engaging students, faculty, and the community at large in study of and spirited dialogue about the philosophical foundations and complex historical development of constitutional democracy both in the United States and around the globe.  To advance this mission, the Kinder Institute, in partnership with MU’s College of Arts & Science, supports an undergraduate BA in Constitutional Democracy, which will provide students with an opportunity to explore the ideas and events central to understanding the United States' creation and early history and to apply this knowledge to study of political thought and global political history in the 20th and 21st centuries.  In addition to the BA, the Kinder Institute and A&S support an undergraduate Minor & Certificate in American Constitutional Democracy, a one-year MA in Atlantic History & Politics, and the Kinder Institute Residential College, a living and learning community for first-year students that includes 12 hours of coursework with Kinder Institute faculty during students’ freshman year.

The Kinder Institute also offers a number of other extracurricular and scholarly programs for MU undergraduates of any major, including our yearlong Society of Fellows, an academic summer internship program in Washington, DC, study abroad programs at Corpus Christi College at University of Oxford (UK) and University of Western Cape (South Africa), and a yearlong exchange program with Corpus.  

Kinder Institute Director, Professor J. Dyer** (Constitutional Democracy/Political Science) 
Kinder Institute Associate Director, Professor J. Pasley** (Constitutional Democracy/History) 
Kinder Institute Endowed Chair, Professor J. Sexton** (Constitutional Democracy/History) 
Professor J. Dow** (Political Science)
Associate Professor C. Conklin (Constitutional Democracy/Law)**
Assistant Professor S.B. V. Kitch* (Constitutional Democracy/Public Affairs), A. Zuercher Reichardt* (Constitutional Democracy/History), J. Selin** (Constitutional Democracy/Political Science)

Please see MA in Atlantic History and Politics for a graduate level degree related to Constitutional Democracy. 

CNST_DEM 2004: Topics in Constitutional Democracy - Social Science

Organized study of selected topics. Subjects and earnable credit may vary from semester to semester. May be repeated for credit with departmental consent. Graded on A-F basis only.

Credit Hour: 1-6


CNST_DEM 2100: The Revolutionary Transformation of Early America

(same as HIST 2100). In the broadest of terms, this is a course on origins. On one hand, we will devote significant class time to discussing "the causes which impelled" the colonies to throw off the yoke of British rule. We will examine this on both a practical and a more abstract level, focusing first on writings that delineate why colonists grew to perceive the economic, social, and political conditions of British rule as insufferable, and then on how they translated these practical concerns into a more ideological justification of violent revolution.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 2100H: The Revolutionary Transformation of Early America - Honors

(same as HIST 2100H). In the broadest of terms, this is a course on origins. On one hand, we will devote significant class time to discussing "the causes which impelled" the colonies to throw off the yoke of British rule. We will examine this on both a practical and a more abstract level, focusing first on writings that delineate why colonists grew to perceive the economic, social, and political conditions of British rule as insufferable, and then on how they translated these practical concerns into a more ideological justification of violent revolution.

Credit Hours: 3
Prerequisites: Honors eligibility required


CNST_DEM 2120: The Young Republic

(same as CNST_DEM 2120). This course examines the early years of the United States under the (then) new Constitution, an important historical period with which present-day Americans are increasingly unfamiliar. Our focus will be on abandoning our preconceptions about the nation's early history and thoroughly understanding the choices that were posed and made in the years after 1789 and that would determine what type of nation the U.S. would become.

Credit Hours: 3
Prerequisites: Honors eligibility required


CNST_DEM 2120H: The Young Republic - Honors

(same as HIST 2120H). This course examines the early years of the United States under the (then) new Constitution, an important historical period with which present-day Americans are increasingly unfamiliar. Our focus will be on abandoning our preconceptions about the nation's early history and thoroughly understanding the choices that were posed and made in the years after 1789 and that would determine what type of nation the U.S. would become.

Credit Hours: 3
Prerequisites: Honors eligibility required


CNST_DEM 2150: The American Civil War: A Global History

(same as HIST 2150). In this class students will study the American Civil War from the perspective of global history. The familiar actors and events will be covered - the debate over slavery, the secession of the South, the rise of Abraham Lincoln, the great battles and generals, etc. But these familiar episodes will take on different meanings when viewed in relation to global structures of politics, economics, social relations, and ideology. The 1860s was at once a formative moment in the history of globalization and the key decade for the formation and consolidation of modern nations.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 2210: Twentieth Century America

(same as HIST 2210). Survey of American development from 1900 to present. For students who have not taken advanced courses in American history, especially HIST 4210, HIST 4220, or HIST 4230.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 2425: Race and the American Story

(same as BL_STU 2425, POL_SC 2425). This course represents a collaboration between the University of Missouri's Department of Black Studies and the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. Building upon the existing Citizenship@Mizzou program, the course aims to carry forward the goals of the Citizenship program and to further solidify and magnify its impact on campus. In so doing, the course will also serve as a model for improving diversity education on campuses across the country and contribute to a more informed and unified national culture. The core syllabus will consist in readings that tell the story of the confrontation between American political principles and the practice of racial injustice throughout our history. Students will read and discuss the Declaration of Independence, the slavery clauses in the Constitution, the poetry of Phillis Wheatley, and the speeches of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. They will achieve a greater understanding of how diversity relates to humanity, and will learn to dialogue productively and civilly with others who may not share their background or opinions.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 2445: American Constitutional Democracy

(same as POL_SC 2445, HIST 2445). This course offers an introduction to American constitutional democracy. On the one hand, this course will strive to set the development of America's constitutional democracy into its historical context and to explain it in relation to larger social, political, military, and economic events. A second emphasis is on the nature and character of the American democratic system. Graded on A-F basis only.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 2450: The Intellectual World of the American Founders

(same as POL_SC 2450). This course demonstrates that truly understanding the American constitutional and democratic traditions begins with acknowledging and studying how, in framing the Constitution and in imagining the new nation, the Founders drew on the work and cobbled together the ideas of thinkers from multiple eras and continents and, moreover, thinkers of vastly different political ideologies and disciplinary expertise.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 2450H: The Intellectual World of the American Founders - Honors

(same as POL_SC 2450H). This course demonstrates that truly understanding the American constitutional and democratic traditions begins with acknowledging and studying how, in framing the Constitution and in imagining the new nation, the Founders drew on the work and cobbled together the ideas of thinkers from multiple eras and continents and, moreover, thinkers of vastly different political ideologies and disciplinary expertise.

Credit Hours: 3
Prerequisites: Honors eligibility required


CNST_DEM 2455: Constitutional Debates

(same as POL_SC 2455). While we will make reference to the work of canonical political thinkers from the Western tradition during the semester - and while we will also, at times, take a broadly philosophical approach to describing certain of the Founders' theses on governance--this is not a course in "high theory." Instead, our examination of the process of drafting and ratifying the United States Constitution will be more pragmatic in nature, focusing on the practical problems and questions concerning national governance that shaped the final design of the Constitution. At the same time, this description of the class as one that addresses the Constitution in terms of the practical problems that the Founders saw it solving drastically understates the complexity and contentiousness of the subject matter that we will be examining. Specifically, the readings for the course will allow us to identify the ways in which, and reasons for which, the Founders disagreed not only on how to solve the problems of governance that the nation faced in 1787 but, moreover, on what these problems actually were. With regard to this task of understanding the principles underlying the heated debates that arose during the drafting and ratification process, it should be noted that this is not a class in Framer-worship. While we will discuss why the Federalists ultimately "won the day," we will also devote significant attention to how the Anti-Federalists both profoundly influenced how we understand constitutional democracy in the United States and provided an intellectual lineage that still informs contemporary political debate. We will, that is, give each side their due. In addition, we will conclude the semester by considering the Constitution's post-ratification history, looking at a handful of Supreme Court decisions and constitutional amendments in order to think about some of the questions that the 1787 Constitution left un-answered and some of the problems that it left un-solved.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 2455H: Constitutional Debates - Honors

(same as POL_SC 2455H). While we will make reference to the work of canonical political thinkers from the Western tradition during the semester--and while we will also, at times, take a broadly philosophical approach to describing certain of the Founders' theses on governance--this is not a course in "high theory". Instead, our examination of the process of drafting and ratifying the United States Constitution will be more pragmatic in nature, focusing on the practical problems and questions concerning national governance that shaped the final design of the Constitution. At the same time, this description of the class as one that addresses the Constitution in terms of the practical problems that the Founders saw it solving drastically understates the complexity and contentiousness of the subject matter that we will be examining. Specifically, the readings for the course will allow us to identify the ways in which, and reasons for which, the Founders disagreed not only on how to solve the problems of governance that the nation faced in 1787 but, moreover, on what these problems actually were. With regard to this task of understanding the principles underlying the heated debates that arose during the drafting and ratification process, it should be noted that this is not a class in Framer-worship. While we will discuss why the Federalists ultimately "won the day," we will also devote significant attention to how the Anti-Federalists both profoundly influenced how we understand constitutional democracy in the United States and provided an intellectual lineage that still informs contemporary political debate. We will, that is, give each side their due. In addition, we will conclude the semester by considering the Constitution's post-ratification history, looking at a handful of Supreme Court decisions and constitutional amendments in order to think about some of the questions that the 1787 Constitution left un-answered and some of the problems that it left un-solved.

Credit Hours: 3
Prerequisites: Honors eligibility required; POL_SC 1100


CNST_DEM 2570: The First World War and its Aftermath

(same as HIST 2570). This course examines the experience of Europeans in the turbulent years during and immediately following the First World War. After investigating the origins and nature of WWI, we will then examine the political, social and cultural climate of the interwar years.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 2800: Liberty, Justice and the Common Good

(same as POL_SC 2800). Selected great political theorists and their contemporary relevance. How to think critically about political ideas and ideologies.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 4000: Age of Jefferson

(same as HIST 4000). Political, constitutional, cultural, and economic developments in United States during formative period of Republic, 1787-1828. Special attention to Constitutional Convention, formation of national political institutions.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 4040: Slavery and the Crisis of the Union: The American Civil War Era

(same as BL_STU 4040, HIST 4040; cross-leveled with HIST 7040). This class explores the history of the Civil War era, a transformative moment in both U.S. and world history. Our goal is to explore and answer a number of questions of great historical significance: How and why did slavery persist in an age of liberal democracy? Why did the pre-war Union prove unable to tolerate the plural visions and diverse institutions of its people? Was the descent into war more a measure of institutional weakness than of the intensity of moral conflict? What were the constituent elements of the competing wartime 'nationalisms' that evolved in both north and south? How and why did a war that began to restore the Union become one for emancipation? How was it the forerunner of modern, 'total' warfare? Did the governmental, socio-economic and racial changes wrought by war constitute a 'second American revolution'? Were the limits or the achievements of post-war Reconstruction more notable? And, last but certainly not least, how did the triumph of the Union condition the political and economic development of a rapidly globalizing world?

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 4075: Global History in Oxford

(same as HIST 4075). This course examines global and transnational history in the 'modern' period since 1400. It includes an embedded week of study abroad at Oxford University (United Kingdom) over spring break.

Credit Hours: 4


CNST_DEM 4080: American Foreign Policy from Colonial Times to 1898

(same as HIST 4080, PEA_ST 4080). This class probes the entwined development of the U.S. nation and empire, to the backdrop of accelerating structures of global economic integration, technological innovation, and the hardening of national, racial, and ideological formations.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 4100: American Cultural and Intellectual History to 1865

(same as HIST 4100). Origins and growth of American values and ideas considered in their social context. Topics include: the work ethic, republican politics, revivalism, reform movements, sexual attitudes, literature in the marketplace, Afro-American and slave-holding subcultures.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 4130: African-American Politics

(same as POL_SC 4130, BL_STU 4130). Surveys political participation of African-Americans in American politics. Analyzes their public lives in the context of elections, behavior of political organizations, social movements, parties, and level of government.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 4400: History of American Law

(same as HIST 4400). American law from English origins to present. Reviews common law, codification, legal reform movements, slavery law, administrative state, formalism, legal realism, jurisprudential questions concerning rule of law.

Credit Hours: 3
Recommended: HIST 1100, HIST 1200, or HIST 1400


CNST_DEM 4800: Political Thought in Classical and Christian Antiquity

(same as POL_SC 4800, AMS 4800). Reading and discussion of Greek, Roman, and Early Christian treatises on politics and political life. Survey of the political institutions and procedures of the Greek city states and Roman Republic and Empire. Examination of contemporary Christian responses and adaptations.

Credit Hours: 3
Recommended: AMS 1060 and junior standing


CNST_DEM 4810: Modern Political Theory

(same as POL_SC 4810). Great political theorists from Machiavelli through Marx on the nation state, capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, and Marxism.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 4830: Democracy in America (and Elsewhere)

(same as POL_SC 4830). This course focuses on the dynamics of democracy. We will explore various topics in the history, development, and practice of democracy through an examination of the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, one of the most insightful and prescient observers of American political culture.

Credit Hours: 3
Prerequisites: POL_SC 1100


CNST_DEM 4840: Developing Dynamics of Democracy

(same as POL_SC 4840). This course examines developments in the theory and practice of democracy from the ancient Greeks to the present. Beginning with the origins of democracy in the Hellenic city states, we consider the transformation of democratic concepts in the classical liberal period, review the development of democratic institutions in the United States and Europe, examine the emergence of supra-national democratic institutions such as the European Union, and assess the future of democratization in the 21st century.

Credit Hours: 3
Prerequisites: POL_SC 1100


CNST_DEM 4850: Scots and the Making of America

(same as POL_SC 4850). This class is on the influence of the Scottish Enlightenment on the founding of the United States. The Scottish Enlightenment refers to uniquely Scottish advances in social, political, scientific and literary thought that transpired in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This line of thought, especially in its social and political dimensions, was especially influential in shaping the founding of the United States.

Credit Hours: 3
Prerequisites: POL_SC 1100


CNST_DEM 4900: Beltway History and Politics: American Constitutional Democracy in Theory and Practice

(same as HIST 4900, POL_SC 4900). This course is an experiential overview of American political history for students participating in the Kinder Forum's Washington internship program, showing how American constitutional democracy was developed and implemented right here on the Potomac, as much as possible in the actual places where the events occurred. Emphasis will be placed on the interplay between constitutional theory and actual political experience over time, and the tensions and institutional changes that emerged as Americans and their government coped with cataclysmic social changes, unparalleled economic development, and fearsome international challenges.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 4975: Journal on Constitutional Democracy

(same as HIST 4975, POL_SC 4975). The Journal is sponsored by the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy and staffed by current and former participants in the Institute's undergraduate Society of Fellows program. Each volume of the Journal is organized around a student-selected idea or era central to the historical development and philosophical foundations of constitutional democracy in the United States. Student-authored essays address this theme via arguments and historical overviews crafted from the close reading and analysis of primary source documents, with the exception being that participating in the Journal will relate back to and advance students' study of American political thought and history.

Credit Hour: 1-3


CNST_DEM 4996: Thesis in Constitutional Democracy

At the end of their junior year, students majoring in Constitutional Democracy can apply to be a part of one of two, ten-person thesis cohorts who enroll in CNST_DEM 4996 during the following fall semester (for two credit hours) and the following spring semester (for one credit hour). Students will complete their thesis over the course of this year by hitting certain writing benchmarks along the way and meeting on a consistent basis with their individual advisors as well as their thesis cohort and course instructor. Course meetings will happen once per month during both the fall and spring semesters, at a to be determined time that fits with all thesis cohort members. Graded on A-F basis only.

Credit Hour: 1-2


CNST_DEM 7004: Topics in Constitutional Democracy - Social Science

Organized study of selected topics. Subjects and earnable credit may vary from semester to semester. May be repeated for credit with departmental consent. Graded on A-F basis only.

Credit Hour: 1-6


CNST_DEM 8041: The Making of the Atlantic World

(same as HIST 8041). Commerce, colonization, enslavement, and warfare connected western Europe, West Africa, and the Americas into an Atlantic world from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. This course introduces students to several key themes in the scholarship of the Atlantic world: contact and imperial conquest, migration, slavery, servitude, and race, and the interaction of law and society. We will focus on the British Atlantic, and also engage with other framings, including the Iberian and African Atlantics. Graded on A-F basis only.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 8042: From the Age of Revolutions to the Age of Nation-States, 1760-1900

(same as HIST 8042). This course will immerse students in the history and historiography of the nineteenth century Atlantic World. The key arc that students will trace is the move from the age of revolutions to the formation of modern, bureaucratic nation-states, a process which unfolded across the Atlantic basin. Graded on A-F basis only.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 8045: Atlantic History and Politics

(same as HIST 8045). In this interdisciplinary graduate course, students will examine some of the most significant texts of the Atlantic world c. 1750-present. They will track the evolution of ideas of liberty, natural rights, politics, and empire that have conditioned the historical development of the Atlantic basin. Graded on A-F basis only.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 8050: Britain and the World

(same as HIST 8050). In this course students will engage with the rich and dynamic global history of Great Britain. The core of the course will be daily guest lectures delivered by faculty members of Oxford University. The course also includes three excursions to sites of historical significance within England. Graded on A-F basis only.

Credit Hours: 3


CNST_DEM 8060: Kinder Institute Colloquia

(same as HIST 8060). In this year-long course, students will actively participate in the regular events put on by the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. The core of the course will be the public lectures, seminar presentations/discussions, workshops, and annual conference sponsored by the Kinder Institute. In addition to actively participating in these events, students will produce reaction papers that provide their assessment and analysis. Graded on A-F only.

Credit Hours: 3