Journal on Constitutional Democracy


Founded in 2014 by inaugural Society of Fellows member Anurag Chandran, the Journal on Constitutional Democracy allows members of the Kinder Institute’s undergraduate cohort to gain hands-on experience with the process of creating a scholarly publication. For each volume of the Journal, which is published annually, student staff members choose a theme related to the Kinder Institute’s scholarly focus on American political thought and history and then research and compose articles that explore this theme’s philosophical, historical, and contemporary relevance to the development and practice of constitutional democracy in the United States and around the globe. In addition to writing content for the Journal, student staff members are also responsible for overseeing all facets of its production, including content and copyediting, design, and marketing.

Starting in 2016-17, students can receive course credit for participating in the creation of the Journal on Constitutional Democracy by enrolling in HIS/POL SC 4975: Journal on Constitutional Democracy, a yearlong course taught by Kinder Institute Undergraduate Programs Coordinator Prof. Carli Conklin.


Volume 1, “democracy: within & beyond” (May 2015)

Drawing on a wide range of primary source documents from the American political and intellectual traditions, articles for Volume 1 of the Journal on Constitutional Democracy explore the evolution of the nation’s government from before the American Revolution through the modern day. Essays from Volume 1’s “within” section examine this evolution from a domestic perspective, inquiring into subject matter ranging from the philosophy underlying self-governance to often overlooked aspects of and figures in the history of the women’s suffrage movement. In the Journal’s “beyond” section, students look at how the United States’ democratic origins translated into foreign policy attitudes and initiatives, with a particular focus on the history of the idea of American exceptionalism from John Winthrop to the present.

Volume 2, “rhetoric: from the founding to the present” (May 2016)

The second volume of the Journal tackles the broad theme of rhetoric, tracing the political significance and cultural dimensions of the art of persuasion chronologically, from Jefferson’s “First Inaugural Address” through the rhetoric of the current presidential election, and geographically from Iowa to Scotland. Topics addressed in Volume 2 of the Journal include: mental illness and legislative disenfranchisement in the late-19th and early-20th centuries; the history of the buffoon and the outsider in American electoral politics; and the constitutionality of the inclusion of “under God” in the pledge of allegiance.

Volume 3, “But let us begin…”

Drawing its theme from the famous optimism of JFK’s “First Inaugural Address,” Volume 3 of the Journal on Constitutional Democracy explores where national history started, and how we might re-start and reinvigorate political discourse in the United States, through essays on topics and questions ranging from what constitutes a democratic education to the jurisprudence of Sandra Day O’Connor.

As a not-for-profit publication, the Journal is available for purchase at cost (plus shipping). Please contact Kinder Institute Communications Associate Thomas Kane,, for more information about purchasing a copy of the Journal.


Starting in 2016-17, the Journal on Constitutional Democracy will sponsor an essay contest for undergraduates of any major at MU. More details about the contest will be revealed once the theme for the third volume of the Journal is chosen. All essays submitted to the contest will be eligible to for publication in the Journal.