Inaugural Missouri Summer Teachers Academy Recap

June 13-16, 2016, Columbia, MO

From June 13-16, 2016, the Kinder Institute hosted its inaugural Missouri Summer Teachers Academy at the Tiger Hotel in Columbia. Developed in partnership with, and generously funded by, the Missouri Humanities Council, the program was designed to provide high school American history and government teachers from throughout Missouri with an opportunity to spend three days studying the foundations and evolution of constitutional democracy in the United States alongside Kinder Institute faculty and other scholars from around the region (see below for seminar titles and recaps). Organized each year around a new theme drawn from the state curriculum for secondary social studies education, the 2016 Academy took on the task of exploring the relationship between majority rule and minority rights and its central importance to both the origins and development of American government and society.

Day 1
June 14, 2016

Kody Cooper, Kinder Research Fellow in Political Science, “Thomas Jefferson and Religious Establishment”

Dan Mandell, Truman State University Professor of History, “From Sovereignty to Subjugation to Autonomy: The Evolving Legal Status of Native Americans, 1790-1960”

Carli Conklin, Kinder Institute Undergraduate Programs Coordinator and Associate Professor of Law, “Perfection, Improvement and Unalienable Rights”

Beginning with definitions taken from Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language and concluding with the 14th Amendment, with stops along the way to look at the Virginia Declaration of Rights and the Articles of Confederation (among other texts), Prof. Conklin’s seminar examined the documentary history of claims to liberty in early America. In particular, Prof. Conklin focused on the philosophical argument colonists constructed “for asserting and vindicating their rights,” noting how they cited the immutable laws of nature (as articulated in the Magna Carta) as a foundation for all men’s freedom and also appealed to the need for a system of rule that was adaptable to the unique conditions of North America to justify their claims to self-governance. The necessity of adaptation, Prof. Conklin noted in concluding her seminar, is perhaps most evident in the shift from representatives of the colonies’ 1775 claim that “our union is perfect” to the Preamble’s language of “a more perfect union”—a shift that underscores the constant re-evaluation of rights, liberties, and conditions that is at the heart of the democratic process and, with regard to the theme of the 2016 Teachers Academy, instrumental to promoting and protecting minority rights.

Day 2
June 15, 2016

Armin Mattes, Kinder Research Fellow in History, “The Great Friendship Tested: Jefferson and Madison on Majority Rule and Minority Rights”

In a seminar that in many ways provided the backbone for all others at the Academy, Prof. Mattes laid out the philosophical basis for majority rule and minority rights by examining the writings and friendship of Madison and Jefferson. He first looked at Madison’s secular application of the insights on the issue that he gained during debates in Virginia regarding religious freedom and toleration. Specifically, Prof. Mattes argued that it was during these debates that Madison began to develop the extended sphere theory of “Federalist 10” through observations of the degree to which rivalries between and the multiplicity of interests could secure minority rights—or, alternately, could prevent majority trespass—in a way that appeals to principle could not. In his subsequent examination of the famous “Earth belongs to the living” letter, Prof. Mattes noted how, rather than share in Madison’s skepticism regarding representatives’ character and commitment to the public good, Jefferson demonstrated an unwavering belief that the common people could (and must) be able to govern themselves and, in this, that the will of the majority should always prevail. And while many scholars use these differences as evidence of an unbridgeable philosophical divide between the two leaders, Prof. Mattes concluded by pointing to Madison and Jefferson’s mutual acknowledgment of the importance of the Bill of Rights as proof of the harmony (if not identity) of their respective political principles and ideas about the structure of government.

Dr. Steve Belko, Executive Director Missouri Humanities Council, “Jacksonian Democracy versus the American System”

Adam Seagrave, Kinder Institute Associate Professor of Constitutional Democracy, “Natural Rights, Majority Rule, and Slavery”

Day 3
June 16, 2016

Kris Maulden, University of Missouri Ph.D. (History), “‘Just remember…I was a man’: Jack Johnson and the Struggle Against White Supremacy, 1900-1915”

On one hand, in examining the life and career of heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, Dr. Maulden provided a sobering reminder of the extent and horrific consequences of white supremacy in the early-20th century. From the L.A. Times invoking the language of slavery in its reporting on Johnson’s victory over Jim Jeffries to the rampant violence African-American citizens faced in the match’s wake, the “fight of the century,” Dr. Maulden pointed out, sadly captured the institutionalized forms of dehumanization and persecution that minorities suffered from in 1910. He also noted, however, that studying Johnson can very much enrich the historical narrative of the efforts made by individuals in the struggle against white supremacy. For one, he argued that Johnson’s commitment to choice and individualism—the fact that he ignored the customs of white supremacy—adds an interesting dimension to classroom discussions that focus on DuBois and Washington debates over how best to respond to and counteract the various institutions and laws that were in place at the time to disenfranchise African Americans. In wrapping up his seminar, Dr. Maulden added how the legal persecution that Johnson faced under the Mann Act became an important talking point for DuBois in particular in the quest for progress, change, and equality.

Justin Dyer, Kinder Institute Director and Professor of Political Science, “Equal Protection and Racial Discrimination”

Jeff Pasley, Kinder Institute Associate Director and Professor of History and Journalism, “The Racial Transformation of the Democratic Party in Missouri”

In addition to the daily seminars, participants in the Academy also attended dinner lectures on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Arent Fox LLC Attorney Stephen Davis giving a talk on the history of religious freedom in the state of Missouri and Lt. Gen. Rich Harding (USAF, retired) presenting on steps taken in recent decades to better protect and promote minority rights in the military. Participants in the inaugural Academy included: Andrew Hanch (Center High School), Carrie Homan (Cole Camp), Kimberly Thielen-Metcalf (Rock Bridge), Kim Plemmons (Marshfield), Lynnette Williams (Odessa), Martha Burich (Riverview Gardens School District), Benjamin Strauser (Kingston), and Tim Hebron (Trinity Catholic).