HS Students

Kinder Institute Democracy Lab First-Year FIG

A first-year learning option in the spirit of MU’s longstanding, successful FIG program, the Kinder Institute Democracy Lab, formerly the Kinder Institute Residential College, is designed to provide incoming Mizzou students with an opportunity to forge a tight-knit scholarly community committed to exploring the complex story of constitutional democracy in the United States and around the globe right when they get to campus. Students in the program take classes together with Kinder Institute faculty members during the fall and spring semesters and participate in a rich array of extracurricular programming throughout the year. While the FIG program as a whole is moving away from a residential requirement for participants, the Kinder Institute is exploring the possibility of continuing to offer students the opportunity to live together during their first year in Wolpers Hall and will update this space accordingly as details emerge.

Starting the process of signing up for the Democracy Lab is as easy as choosing “Kinder Institute Democracy Lab” or “Kinder Institute Democracy Lab-Honors” when completing Mizzou’s admissions preference form on Slate.

Scholarships for the 2024-25 Kinder Institute Democracy Lab for first-year students are now closed, though students interested in participating in the FIG will still be able to select that option on Slate’s admissions preference form as long as space is available, after which we will begin running a wait list.

Use the FAQ tabs below to find out more about the Democracy Lab.

Q: What is the Kinder Democracy Lab?

A: Conceived and proposed in collaboration with the College of Arts & Science and MU Residential Life, and formerly known as the Kinder Institute Residential College, it provides unrivaled opportunities for first-year students of all backgrounds and academic pursuits who are interested in history and politics to begin forming a close-knit intellectual community right when they get to campus. Members of the Democracy Lab take classes together during the fall and spring semesters on the early history of democracy in the U.S. and abroad, build a cohort through the Democracy Lab’s academic and extracurricular programs, form relationships with the Kinder Institute’s world-class faculty, and get early exposure to the full breadth of our undergrad programs.

Q: How do I sign up?

A: Step one is choosing “Kinder Institute Democracy Lab” or “Kinder Institute Democracy Lab-Honors” when completing Mizzou’s admissions preference form on Slate. This will save your spot in the program, which you’ll then need to fully secure by submitting a housing deposit and signing a housing contract with Res Life by the appropriate deadline (typically near the beginning of the February prior to matriculation).

You’ll also have the option to complete a brief scholarship application, which will be made available no later than October 1 each year through Mizzou’s central Scholarship Universe platform (instructions for creating a Scholarship Universe profile can be found here), which will make you immediately eligible for one of our Kinder, Morgan, or Atterbury Scholarships for first-year students. All students who submit materials by the December 1 early scholarship deadline will be notified about the status of their applications by the end of December at the latest. The regular application deadline will be January 15 each year, so all scholarship decisions can be made prior to students signing housing contracts.

Q: Where is the Democracy Lab housed?

A: In the past, cohorts have lived in either Wolpers Hall, a recently renovated, community-style dorm located in the heart of campus, right across the street from the Rec and the MU Student Center and a short walk from the Kinder Institute’s offices in Jesse Hall, or in the Honors College’s Mark Twain Residence Hall. While the FIG program is moving away from a residential requirement starting in AY 2024-25, we hope to be able to continue to offer that possibility going forward, even if in a pared down form, and will update this section of the website as details arise.

Q: What are the courses I’ll be taking with other Democracy Lab participants?

A: All students in the Democracy Lab will be introduced to the mode of interdisciplinary inquiry at the heart of all Kinder Institute academic programming through first-year classes that engage them in consideration of the relationship between democratic ideas and revolutionary actions in the early United States and beyond. During the fall, students will take either “Intellectual World of the American Founders” (CNST_DEM/POL_SC 2450), a small seminar that examines the political philosophy that informed the founding of the United States, or “Revolutions” (GN_HON 2245H), a global history of democratic revolutionary movements that’s part of the newly reinvigorated Honors College social science sequence. All KIDL students will also take HIST 2150, a small lecture course focused on taking a global perspective in interpreting the causes, events, and consequences of the American Civil War. In the spring, students will take either CNST_DEM/HIST 2100: The Revolutionary Transformation of Early America or the “Constitutions” half of the Honors social science sequence (GN_HON 2246H). Seats may be saved in another spring class or classes (TBD each year) for Democracy Lab participants, pending availability of instructors.

All courses associated with the program are part of the B.A. in Constitutional Democracy curriculum, which Democracy Lab participants can be as much as a third of the way toward completing at the end of their first year on campus. Program participants are not at all required to declare a Constitutional Democracy major, though we do encourage students interested in pursuing the degree to apply. Additionally, Honors eligibility is not a pre-requisite for being part of the program.

Along with the three-credit hour classes associated with the Democracy Lab, students will enroll during the fall semester in a one-credit hour seminar, designed specifically for residents by the program’s Faculty Co-Coordinator, that consists of guest lectures, group discussions, introductions to other Kinder Institute programs, and excursions in and around Columbia. A second one-credit hour course will be offered in the spring, focusing on campus history.

Q: Are scholarships available?

A: We’re excited to be able to supplement select students’ regular financial aid packages with a limited number of Morgan, Atterbury, and Kinder Scholarships, which range in amount from $500 – $2,000, and which are designed to support incoming freshmen during their first year in the Democracy Lab. Applications will run through Mizzou’s central Scholarship Universe platform (tips on how to set up a Scholarship Universe profile can be found here) and will open no later than October 1 each year, with an early deadline of December 1 and a regular deadline of January 15.

Q: Does the Democracy Lab cost more than regular Mizzou enrollment?

A: Not at all. There will be no cost associated with the program other than standard tuition, fees, and room and board costs.

Q: Can I stay involved after my first year?

A: Absolutely! You can apply to be a Democracy Lab Peer Learning Assistant. You can keep taking classes in the Constitutional Democracy B.A. curriculum whether you’re pursuing the major or not. And you can always still stop by Jesse Hall for the various faculty-led and student-developed extracurricular programs and activities that are a huge part of the Democracy Lab experience.

Plus, we hope you’ll take advantage of some of the other unique undergraduate opportunities at the Kinder Institute. Our programs are open to all students on campus and, in addition to the B.A., include a yearlong academic fellowship program, a chance to study at Oxford for a week or full year, and a summer program in Washington, D.C. In other words, we envision the Democracy Lab being a four-year, not a one-year, experience.

Q: I forgot to ask, what’s the Kinder Institute?

A: We’re a signature academic center at Mizzou that brings faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and members of the community together to explore ideas and events related to the creation of the United States and to trace their reverberations over time and around the globe. We teach classes, we host lectures, we publish books, and most of all, we encourage the endeavors of students who want to learn more about the complicated story of constitutional democracy in and beyond the United States.