Minor & Certificate in American Constitutional Democracy
The Kinder Institute’s Minor and Certificate in American Constitutional Democracy are designed for University of Missouri undergraduates of any major who wish to pursue an in-depth, interdisciplinary course of study that focuses on the philosophical origins and historical evolution of the United States’ political system and traditions, as well as their continued global impact and relevance.
Whether preparing for a career in law, public policy, or a related field—or simply interested in exploring more deeply the United States’ experience (or experiment) with democratic governance—students minoring in American Constitutional Democracy will gain a broad understanding of the currents of thought and historical conditions that have shaped and re-shaped political life in the United States from the founding of the nation to the present day. The shared curriculum for the Minor and Certificate also provides students with an opportunity to further contextualize their examination of democratic culture and processes through various internship and study abroad programs that focus on the study of constitutional democracy in practice and/or from a global perspective.
ACD MINOR REQUIREMENTS
A minimum of fifteen (15) credits are required for the ACD Minor, and at least three (3) of those credits must come from an internship, study abroad class, or other approved experiential course. Further details about requirements for the Minor can be found in the application link below.
Note: Per University regulations, students may not use a course to fulfill both a major and minor requirement. In addition, regulations stipulate that students may take a maximum of 42 hours in their major, meaning that to receive the ACD Minor students must have taken at least one course from the Kinder Institute curriculum outside of their major field.
ACD CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS
The Certificate in American Constitutional Democracy recognizes students who have engaged in the study of American political thought and history by completing twelve (12) hours of coursework from the list of approved classes below. In contrast to the ACD Minor, students pursuing the Certificate are not required to complete a study abroad course or internship. Further details about requirements for the ACD Certificate can be found in the application link below.
Note: Courses used to satisfy a major requirement may also count toward a certificate. However, students may not receive credit for both the Certificate and Minor in American Constitutional Democracy.
Below is a list of courses currently offered in the minor. Entries marked with an asterisk (*) are part of the Kinder Institute’s Constitutionalism and Democracy Honors College course series.
This one-credit hour 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 course will be taught in small seminars of 15-20 students by faculty members in Black Studies and the Kinder Institute. 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. Cross-listed with POL SC 2425.
This course will focus on the literature and culture of the fifth and early fourth centuries B.C. in Athens, with special attention paid to the nature of democratic institutions under Pericles as well as the contributions of Athenian political theory and practice to the development of American democracy. Authors will include Thucydides, Herodotus, Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, the tragedians and Aristophanes.
In providing an introduction to the governmental systems and political philosophy of Classical Greece, Republican and Imperial Rome, and Christian Late Antiquity, this course will engage students with a legacy of thought that was passed on to and incorporated by the architects of modern democracies. Through a dual focus on theory and practice—on, specifically, both the major writings and constitutional arrangements of the time period being examined—students will develop a foundation for approaching the tension between universalizing and historicizing understandings of such key socio-political conceptions as democracy and autocracy, freedom and slavery, and citizen and alien
This course provides an introduction to the theory of social choice and applies these lessons to the positive analysis of American political institutions. Topics covered include citizen participation and representation, money in politics, and legislative organization and the budget process. (Prerequisites: ECON 4351 and STATS 2500, or permission)
This course offers a broad historical survey of economic thought. Students will consider the contributions of major social and political philosophers to modern economic thought, with particular attention paid to the economic theories that have influenced American political economy since the nation’s founding.
This course will provide students with a practical introduction to the economic analysis of American legal and political institutions. Students will apply basic microeconomic theory to the study of property, contracts, torts, the legal process, crime, and the judiciary, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the nuanced relationship between economic policy and political action.
Constitutional government is marked by a commitment to the rule of law, yet times of crisis often challenge that commitment. Drawing on classic texts in the history of political thought as well as historical case studies involving Lincoln, Hitler, Roosevelt, G.W. Bush, and Obama, we will consider the arguments for and against the existence of emergency executive powers in a constitutional regime.
This course will provide students with a review of how the U. S. Supreme Court has fashioned arbitration policy for consumers and employees. Students will be challenged to consider the implications of foregoing your constitutional right to a jury trial for arbitration. The course will rely heavily on class participation from the 4-6 students enrolled.
In this tutorial we will explore the meaning of the pursuit of happiness within its historical and legal context. Readings will be drawn from Classical Antiquity, the English Enlightenment, the American Founding, legal debates surrounding the existence of slavery in early America, and the culmination of those debates in nineteenth and twentieth-century legal documents, speeches, and court cases. This tutorial is open to students of all disciplines. Familiarity with law or legal concepts is not necessary or required. Grades will be based on participation in discussion and weekly reflection papers.
This course will examine the legal controversies related to the 2010 passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and explore the larger issues that they raise about the American constitutional order. We will begin by looking into the history and substance of the ACA, and then shift our attention to examining the details of the challenges that it has been subject to over the past three years. Specific topics that we will address include: whether or not Congress can require American citizens to buy health insurance from a private company; what, if any, “separation of powers” problems are created by the legal action taken against the President by the House of Representatives; questions surrounding the First Amendment implications of the ACA raised in the recent Hobby Lobby and Notre Dame Supreme Court cases; and the degree to which courts are authorized to “fix” drafting errors in complex legislation.
This course will explore ongoing debates about rival approaches to interpreting the meaning of our Constitution’s text and applying its commands to constitutional controversies. The course will begin with a brief introduction to the Constitution itself and some milestones of constitutional history. Focusing mostly on cases involving individual rights, we will then discuss the evolution of debates between originalists (theorists who argue that the goal of constitutional interpretation is to discover and apply the original intent or original public understanding of the document) and non-originalists. We will ask what view is most faithful to the meaning of the text and whether there is reason to think one approach produces better consequences than the others. Authors will include William Rehnquist, Paul Brest, Antonin Scalia, Ronald Dworkin, John Hart Ely, Keith Whittington, Jeremy Waldron, and others.
In this tutorial, students will explore the historical development of the concept of human rights and examine the ideas, instruments, and institutions that form the basis of modern human rights law. Students will engage in discussion of critical themes and controversies in the field of human rights through a close reading of historical texts, charters, declarations, and treaties, such as the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the National Human Rights Action Plan of the People’s Republic of China, and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Class time also will be devoted to examining contemporary events through a human rights perspective and conducting an experiential exploration of human rights claims and controversies in Columbia, Missouri.
The purpose of this course will be to examine, and at times challenge, the critical tendency to read Whitman as equal parts superlative poet and superlative democratic theorist. By placing Whitman’s poetry and prose in conversation with the works of such writers as Madison, Tocqueville, and Lincoln, we will be able to formulate a model of Whitmanian democracy as well as a standard against which to judge how, and how successfully, Whitman innovated on and deviated from more conventional modes of democratic thought. If our primary task is to use this conversation to determine whether, or in what combination, Whitman was a great, or an overly ambitious, political thinker, our secondary task is to locate a precedent for the singularity of his democratic vision. To conclude the course, we will thus examine the possibility that the influence of the German aesthetic tradition might account for both the uniqueness and the shortcomings of Whitman’s politics.
This tutorial will provide a broad overview of the liberal democratic tradition, especially as it has been implemented in the United States. We will begin by reviewing the pre-modern, Hellenic experience with self government, then turn to the developments that led to the rise of liberal, social contract theory as the legitimate basis for government in the 1600s, focusing on the work of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. After a brief “detour through Scotland,” during which we will consider the influence of such Scottish Enlightenment thinkers as Adam Smith and David Hume, we will concentrate on the American experience. Our topics will include the debates during the founding period (and the compromises necessary to launch the nation) as well as what was required to flesh out the constitutional framework in the actual practice of self government.
The Framers and Foreign Affairs Powers is a course designed to introduce students to great works of legal philosophy, the effect those works had on the drafters of the U.S. Constitution when considering the powers each branch of government would possess with respect to foreign issues and affairs, and the conflict and cooperation between branches since those powers were codified.
In this tutorial, we will read excerpts from several classic texts in political philosophy to gain a better understanding of how prominent and influential thinkers in the past have answered questions about the meaning and practice of justice. We will meet weekly to discuss these texts, and spend two weeks on each reading. Grades will be based on weekly reflection papers and quality of participation.
A central thesis of this tutorial is that episodes of “dynamic disequilibrium” are not (usually) the products of rule breaking or social decline; rather, they are logical products of identifiable structural features of our free market and democratic systems. The optimistic theories of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill were not misplaced, but rather incomplete. The modern challenges we face remain within our power to analyze and address. The basic goal of the course is to help students better understand some of the causes of “dynamic disequilibrium” in our financial and political systems in order to become more effective decision-makers in their own future roles as citizens, businesspeople, policy-makers, and/or voters.
Ever since the November 2016 presidential election, the media has been full of often-ill-informed discussion about the possibility that the newly elected president could be impeached. Although it is conceivable that evidence could emerge making this (or any) President subject to impeachment at some point in his term, much of the discussion to date has served primarily to reveal how little is commonly understood about the proper uses of and limits on the impeachment power. A tutorial on the subject would permit students to better judge the place of congressional impeachment authority in the heated controversies of the day.
What is a nation? Do nations exist primordially, or are they manufactured products of relatively recent human history? What makes possible the imagined “kinship” of an individual with millions of living, dead, and unborn members of a given nation, most of whom are completely unknown to him/her? What social forces turn complete strangers into relatives, and how is this community of intimate strangers maintained? These and other questions will be addressed in this survey of American nationalism as a force in American politics from the Founding to the present day.
Moreover, in recent years, political commentators have noted the increasing prominence of ethnic nationalism in American political discourse. This interdisciplinary course will also contextualize these observations by offering the opportunity to analyse the extent to which declarations of American nationalist sentiment have existed alongside and in conjunction with understandings of racial difference.
We will chart the development of characteristic ideas and institutions of Western cultural tradition, from the origin of civilization in the Near East to the beginning of the rapid social, political, and intellectual transformation of Europe in the eighteenth century
This course provides a survey of English institutions, culture and politics from the Roman invasion to the Revolution of 1688, with particular attention paid, in the final weeks of the class, to the dawn of the age of Enlightenment in England and the subsequent development of an intellectual tradition that would prove foundational to American democracy.
This course is designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore the practical and theoretical causes and ramifications of colonists’ resistance to British rule as well as the major events of the independence movement and ensuing Revolutionary War. In examining the process that set the British Empire’s mainland American colonies on a surprising, transformative trajectory toward republicanism, students will also engage with primary and secondary sources that expose how, during the Revolutionary era, Americans began to confront such contradictions as fighting for liberty and equality in a slave society.
In completing the Constitutionalism and Democracy series, students will focus on the time period during which the nation’s political institutions and identity began to take shape. On one hand, this will involve examining practical questions regarding commerce, religion, and international order (among many other topics) that the United States faced during the early national era. On the other hand, the course will address broad, theoretical concerns and tensions regarding the nature and character of the new union that arose as the nation’s leaders and citizens engaged in the process of building a working political system following the Constitution’s minimal instructions.
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. There are two objectives to this class: first, to expose undergraduates to the historical, political, and moral education that the Civil War offers all of its students; and, second, to introduce students to the enterprise of global history through a familiar and particularly illuminating historical event.
This course focuses on the overall development of American religion from the seventeenth century to the present. On one hand, students will be invited to think about the larger questions concerning American religion, such as why religion in America has developed in the way that it has, and how and why it continues to thrive in American popular culture. Class time will also be devoted to studying particular themes in the history of American religion, including: the Constitution’s protection of religious liberties and encouragement of religious pluralism, evangelicalism in twentieth-century America, and landmark Supreme Court rulings regarding individuals’ First Amendment religious rights.
In providing an overview of the state’s history from long before the colonial era through the late 20th century, this course encourages students to explore not only Missouri’s own rich story but also how this story is entwined with, and has been integral in shaping, the broader narrative of the nation as a whole. Through readings and films on topics ranging from the Missouri Crisis, to Kansas City’s Pendergrast era, to suburbanization and public housing in the state’s major cities, students will consider the social, economic, political, and cultural forces that have affected Missourians’ lives over the centuries and also have an opportunity to unearth new dimensions to the histories of their own hometowns.
This course has the dual objective of providing students with insight into both the history and theory of American constitutional democracy. We will thus examine the development of constitutional democracy in the United States in relation to larger social, political, economic, and military events, while also leaving ample time to study the character, nature, and philosophical foundations of the American democratic system. To achieve this purpose, we will approach our subject by concentrating each week on one influential book or pamphlet from a specific time period which addresses a topic that was significant to advancing the development of democracy in America during that era. Focusing on the history as well as the more theoretical aspects of American constitutional democracy through the lens of various individual authors distinguishes this course from a standard survey class, making it interdisciplinary in nature and suitable in particular for undergraduate students in history and political science. Another unique feature of this course is that, in most cases, one of two weekly lectures will be delivered by a leading expert on the author/book being discussed, thus providing students with the opportunity to profit from these scholars’ singular expertise. (Cross-listed with POL SC 2445)
This course will examine major American religious traditions from the Age of Discovery to the Civil War, with particular focus placed on such topics as the evolution of religious practices and institutions and their influence on American social and intellectual life; religion’s role in the development of American democracy; and the significance of the religious language invoked in some of the nation’s founding documents, including the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address (Same as REL ST 3000).
This course surveys major American religious traditions, patterns, and themes from 1865 to the present. Special attention will be devoted to such topics as: the role religion played in American social, cultural, and intellectual developments, its increased place in political life, and the adjudication of First Amendment religious rights cases on the state and federal levels.
During the twentieth century, American democratic institutions and notions of citizenship were expanded to embrace previously excluded groups. This course explores American women’s engagement with the American political process over the course of the late-nineteenth and twentieth century, beginning in the years before women’s suffrage. Through readings, discussions, and written assignments, we will address questions of women’s political history including the following: In what ways did America’s founding political ideas and institutions allow for the participation of women? How has this changed over time? On what grounds have women organized as a group? What political goals have women activists sought? How have class and race affected women’s political identities? How is women’s political activism best understood in relationship to the conventional political spectrum (left vs. right)? In what ways have women political activists affected political outcomes? What is the relationship of women’s politics to feminism? Is “women’s politics” a useful concept? This course is cross-listed with WGST 3220.
We will examine political, cultural, domestic, and economic developments in the United States during the formative revolutionary and early republic periods, spanning from 1775-1826. Special attention will be given to political ideas and realities, broadly conceived, as well as the ramifications of the changing political landscape in everyday life.
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. Students will earn 4 credit hours for this course.
The class begins by interrogating how and why national history emerged as the default method of the study of the past in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, before considering the limitations of national history. The class then shifts to examining global and transnational approaches, which emerged as potential successors to national history in the decades following the end of the Cold War.
From here, students turn their attention to the best work (in my opinion) of global history so far produced: John Darwin’s After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000. We will spend several weeks working our way through this book, which provides students with a grounding in the history of global empires and the development of global history as a historiographical genre. While reading this book, students will begin to identify the topics of their research papers that are due at the end of the semester.
Over spring break, the class will convene in the U.K., where students will experience a teaching intensive week with Oxford faculty. Rather than simply visiting foreign sites, students will immerse themselves in the intellectual, pedagogic, and social life of Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford. Each day, students will have two sessions of 2 hours led by a faculty member of Oxford University. This will be a chance for students to be exposed to cutting-edge work on global/transnational history, in which the U.K. has emerged a global leader. More than that, it also will be an opportunity for students to experience foreign teaching methods and styles.
This course deals with the three events that not only rocked the Atlantic world in the eighteenth century but also accounted for the rise, and profoundly shaped the early development, of constitutional democracy in the United States: the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions. While we will approach each rebellion on its own terms, we will also employ a comparative strategy to see how the revolutions both converged and diverged. Each moment of crisis, this class argues, has a much broader global context, especially in an Atlantic world that was connected through migration, commerce, ideas, and slavery. Further, we will examine how these revolts inaugurated a new political order that in many ways ushered in what we now refer to as modernity.
The contributions of music to American political life can be easy to observe but hard to assess. What is the point of a presidential campaign song? How can we measure the impact of a protest song? And what does a larger history of music and politics tell us about the American political experience? This course provides a foundation for thinking through the political implications of American music and a framework for considering how and why connections between music and politics may have changed over time. Beginning in the colonial period and continuing through to present day, we explore how Americans of all kinds have approached the politicization of music and ask what light a musical perspective can shed on the connections between American art, culture, society, and power.
This course looks at the history of constitutions and constitutional democracy in the Americas as a whole—the United States and Latin America. Specifically, by treating the U.S. Constitution as a pioneering document in the Americas, we will be able to compare and contrast various nations’ practical experiences with constitutional democracy, examining not only the international influence of the U.S. Constitution but also how and why, even in drawing on the same philosophical antecedents as the founders of the United States, the architects of many of these republics opted for different democratic forms and practices.
This class examines the history of the Civil War era, a transformative moment in both U.S. and world history, and prompts students to explore and answer a number of questions: 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 over the Union become a war about slavery and emancipation? How far 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?
This course will analyze the revolutionary era in American history, through the establishment of the new government in 1789. We will focus not only on the causes and consequences of the Revolution itself, but also on the intellectual and political traditions underlying the new democratic system as well as on the debates regarding the practical and theoretical nature of American democracy that arose during the process of drafting and ratifying the Constitution.
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. If you invest your time and intellect in this class, you will be rewarded. If you do not, you will miss an opportunity not only to learn an important topic, but also to practice thinking analytically, to ask probing questions, and to apply knowledge to problems that need solving.
This course explores the origins and development of American values and ideas, broadly conceived, in their various sociocultural contexts from the American Revolution to the eve of the Civil War. Key topics include the struggles by ordinary men against their elite counterparts for equality and political power; by women for equality with men; and by African-American slaves for freedom. As such, interrelated beliefs and sentiments to be examined include foundational principles of the early Republic; evangelicalism, empirical science, and moral philosophy; the political economies of market capitalism and slavery; transcendentalism and democratic romanticism in literature and the visual arts; the distinctive versions of constitutional equality and individual rights advanced by free African Americans; and contending anti-slavery and pro-slavery arguments.
This course explores tensions and transformations in American culture from the Civil War to the present, with special attention given to the legal and ideological re-conception of citizenship and individual rights that began with the Reconstruction Amendments and continued to define and divide American society throughout the era. Given our focus, key topics that we will examine include: spiritual crisis in Christianity; the rise of welfare state liberalism; socialist and feminist alternatives; and labor and Progressive-era politics in literature and the visual arts.
This course seeks to illuminate the interaction of American law, society, and culture from the early colonial era through the early twenty-first century. Broadly speaking, it looks at the persistently tense relationship between understandings of the public good grounded in religion and the ideas advanced by empirical enquiry; individual liberties and police power; the rights and duties of citizenship; free-market capitalism and economic regulation; freedom of expression and community well-being; majority preferences and equality for minorities; and the relationship of all these tensions to rising popular politics and judicial paternalism. In the second half of the course, we will turn our attention to the uneven advance of fundamental rights to individual privacy, taking into account ever-changing modes of individual and mass communication and the way that concerns with personal and collective security have shaped this broad pattern of development.
This course examines the main principles of Athenian law and judicial procedure, with special emphasis placed on the history of law codes in Athens and the study of actual speeches from a variety of lawsuits and procedures. Students in the course will be introduced to a number of concepts that pertain to the study of the theory underlying the organization and function of the American government’s judicial branch as well as the practical application of constitutional law.
We will concentrate on the rise of oratory in Greece and how it was exploited for political ends. Special attention will be paid to the Athenian democracy in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., as well as the influence of its central concepts and institutions on the development of American democracy.
Taught in Washington, DC, by University of Missouri faculty, this course provides an experiential overview of American political history for students in the Kinder Scholars summer academic internship program. Emphasis is 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 (Cross-listed with POL SC 4900).
The History Internship provides students with the chance to participate in the process of creating a record of the nation’s democratic legacy. The opportunities within the internship program are various, and include archival and museum work, contributing to ongoing, national oral history projects, and working with historical preservation organizations. In all cases, working with the material history of the Republic will allow students to develop a deeper understanding of how the artifact, broadly conceived, is integral not only to drawing connections between the nation’s past and present but also to shaping the future of American democracy.
Available to past and current members of the Kinder Institute’s Society of Fellows, this yearlong course will provide students with a thorough introduction to the process of creating a scholarly publication focused on the evolution of certain key aspects of American constitutional democracy. On the academic side, all students enrolled in the course will compose a scholarly article for the Journal, which will be organized each year around a new theme jointly chosen by internship participants and instructors. On the practical side, students will manage all aspects of producing the Journal and meeting its spring publication deadline. Tasks associated with the practical component of the course include (but are by no means limited to): soliciting and copyediting submissions, marketing and designing the Journal, and conceiving of all supplementary written and visual content. Cross-listed with POL SC 4975, the course meets for 2 hours in the fall and 1 hour in the spring.
This course has the dual objective of providing students with insight into both the history and theory of American constitutional democracy. We will thus examine the development of constitutional democracy in the United States in relation to larger social, political, economic, and military events, while also leaving ample time to study the character, nature, and philosophical foundations of the American democratic system. To achieve this purpose, we will approach our subject by concentrating each week on one influential book or pamphlet from a specific time period which addresses a topic that was significant to advancing the development of democracy in America during that era. Focusing on the history as well as the more theoretical aspects of American constitutional democracy through the lens of various individual authors distinguishes this course from a standard survey class, making it interdisciplinary in nature and suitable in particular for undergraduate students in history and political science. Another unique feature of this course is that, in most cases, one of two weekly lectures will be delivered by a leading expert on the author/book being discussed, thus providing students with the opportunity to profit from these scholars’ singular expertise. (Cross-listed with HIS 2445)
An overview of “what the Founders were reading,” this course will introduce students to the antecedents of early American political thought, from the philosophy of Classical Greece and Republican Rome through the political and social innovations and upheavals of the Protestant Reformation and the European Enlightenment. Focus will be placed on analyzing both influence and divergence, with the ultimate goal that, upon completion of the course, students will understand the currents of thought that the Founders took into account when shaping the political values and institutions of the new nation as well as the ways in which they deviated from prior models in order to construct a system that would meet the unique demands and conditions of North America.
While students in this course will draw on the material covered in the series’ “Intellectual World” and “Revolutionary Transformation” classes, the focus, here, is on political thought in practice. Specifically, the course’s goal is for students to arrive at a nuanced understanding of the issues and objectives that shaped the design of the U.S. Constitution, a goal that can only be achieved by examining the practical problems of governance that the Founders took it upon themselves to resolve as well as the debates about the ultimate structure and function of the new government that raged during the process of drafting and ratifying the nation’s founding document.
This course offers a survey of the history of political thought, from antiquity through the twentieth century. Beginning in Week 1 with Plato, students will engage with texts that have shaped civilization by addressing questions about those principles and ideals, such as liberty and justice, which are central to political society. While our study will be broad in terms of the political systems that we examine, particular attention will be paid to the thinkers who most directly influenced the development of American constitutional democracy.
This course will examine works that shaped three centuries of American political thought, from the founding of the nation through the present day. In focusing on the theory and practice of American constitutional democracy–on those currents of thought responsible for its formation and transformation–we will explore such themes as federalism, representation, slavery, religion, and the tension between unity and difference. Readings are drawn from primary sources (Jefferson, Adams, Mason, Tocqueville, Calhoun, Lincoln, Stowe, Baldwin) as well as contemporary analytic commentary on those sources (Bercovitch, Hartz, Wolin, Guinier, Morrison).
This course will provide a thorough overview of the often times contentious discussions about the nation’s founding document that occurred on a national and state level during the process of drafting and ratifying the original Constitution. Our study will, on one hand, be broad and theoretical, concentrating on debates about the Republic’s core organizing principles such as the public arguments between federalists and anti-federalists regarding the distribution of political power. We will also leave room for a more narrowly focused examination of particular issues–such as slavery, the terms of territorial expansion, and the enumeration of personal freedoms–that arose in the course of these debates. With regard to this second line of inquiry, we will discuss not only how the framers of the Constitution attempted to resolve these issues but also on how they continued to be debated after ratification and, in turn, required further legislative attention.
The concept of natural law is commonly taken to define a sphere of moral obligation or duty, while that of natural (or “human”) rights suggests a range of freedom or autonomy. How do these concepts fit together? Or are they ultimately contradictory? This course will explore the concepts of natural rights and the natural law, focusing on the meaning of each concept as well as potential areas of overlap or tension between them. This exploration will be conducted primarily through a broad tracing of the development of each concept, both singly and in tandem, through the history of political thought up to the present time.
Through a theoretical examination of the political and legal debates regarding emergency powers, we will explore the question of whether or not liberal democracy can effectively respond to domestic and international crises without undermining its own legitimacy and constitutional identity.
This course examines historical and contemporary efforts by African Americans to gain full inclusion as citizens within the United States political system. We will begin in the Reconstruction era, focusing on the social, political, and economic conditions that led to the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment and reading the Amendment alongside the original Constitution and Bill of Rights to identify the language that it invokes in order to guarantee equal rights protection for African-American citizens. We will then turn our attention to the years leading up to and including the Civil Rights movement, looking at the factors underlying the continued denial of African-Americans’ constitutional and natural rights and at the twentieth-century legislation and Supreme Court cases that worked to ensure that the terms and spirit of the Fourteenth Amendment were honored. Other themes and topics that we will examine in the course of our study include: the origins of African-American political philosophy, black nationalism, black presidential bids and the historic election of Barack Obama, and race and voting behavior.
This course provides a comprehensive theoretical, historical and practical overview of the U.S. legislature, beginning with an examination of the philosophy underlying the constitutional separation of governing powers in the United States and concluding with a study of contemporary congressional policy making. Over the course of the semester, we will address a wide variety of relevant topics, including the implications of the changing dynamics of congressional elections, the history of interactions between Congress and other national political actors and institutions, and the significance of party politics within the context of internal legislative leaders and organizations.
This course provides students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the role of the executive branch in American politics and history from the founding of the nation through the modern day. The course will begin with an examination of the constitutional design of the executive office, addressing topics such as the framers’ intentions for the presidency and the historical precedents for its relationship with the other branches of government. After defining the presidency within the context of the American constitutional tradition, students will engage in an extended case study of the constraints that history and context have placed on executive power and action. For example, students will study the dynamics of presidential morality and agency by comparing and contrasting the presidencies of Polk and Lincoln, and will explore the early twentieth-century modernization of the executive office through an examination of the legacies of Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR.
This course focuses on the unique, fascinating, and often frustrating politics of the American South in the latter part of the twentieth century and the early years of the new millennium. We will begin with a broad, theoretical examination of Southern politics within the larger context of the founding principles of American democracy, and then shift our attention to a study of the economic, legal and historical factors that shaped the “old” South and led to revolutionary transformations in the region during the middle decades of the twentieth century. In the second half of the course, we will explore more contemporary topics and themes, including: presidential and sub-presidential politics in the South, the political landscapes in deep and rim South states, and the dynamics of racial representation.
This class provides a survey of landmark Supreme Court cases involving the division and distribution of political power under the United States Constitution. The core themes of the course are the separation of powers, federalism, judicial review, congressional power, war making under the Constitution, and the judiciary’s role in policing the political process.
This class provides a survey of landmark Supreme Court cases involving the Constitution’s protections for life, liberty, and property and guarantee of equal protection of the law. We begin by considering rights protections in the original Constitution and Bill of Rights before exploring the significance and impact of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868.
This course will examine the historical and legislative significance of the United States Supreme Court from the early Republic-era through the modern day. We will begin by taking a theoretical approach to our topic, looking at the debates regarding the proper role of the judiciary in the nation’s government that occurred during the framing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. From here, we will turn our attention toward studying the practical influence of the Supreme Court on public life in America. While we will focus on discussing how certain landmark Court decisions advanced or, in some instances, hindered the realization of some of the most fundamental principles of American democracy, we will also devote class time to examining the historical implications of different theoretical models of constitutional interpretation as well as the legacies of specific Court Justices.
This course explores the place of civil liberties in the American constitutional system. The balance between collective interests and individual freedoms presents a tension that political societies must inevitably confront. In this course, we examine the framework for negotiating this tension provided by the U.S. Constitution, especially through the Bill of Rights, as it has developed through two centuries of jurisprudence. We focus especially on issues around freedoms of speech, press, religion, association, and privacy, as well as rights of the accused. Readings will consist primarily of Supreme Court case law, but will also include supplementary texts in legal theory and political philosophy.
This course will allow students to explore the nuanced, often overlooked relationship between democratic theory and the administrative state. This will first require a practical overview of the significant role that bureaucratic actors play in the implementation of public policy. From here, we will study U.S. bureaucracy in a larger democratic context, focusing on how the architecture of the Constitution accounts for the creation and necessity of an administrative state and, in turn, on how the bureaucratic component of U.S. politics has historically influenced the dynamic interactions between the branches of national government.
Why did the Arab Spring happen, and what explains why some of those countries have since become democracies, while others have slid back into dictatorship? Will China survive and become the next world superpower, or will it collapse? Why did North Korea’s Kim Jong Un execute his uncle? Why did Bashar al-Assad hold a presidential election in Syria during the middle of a civil war in 2014? Why did Ferdinand Marcos refer to the martial law era in the Philippines as a “constitutional dictatorship,” and what is a “constitutional dictatorship” anyway?
This course will introduce students to the causes and character of contemporary authoritarian and democratic regimes through an examination of topics including: how and why democracy and dictatorship are created; how the leaders of these two types of political systems rule; why they survive; why people resist dictatorship or don’t; and why certain regimes survive or fall. For those of you who have taken coursework on American constitutional democracy, the course will provide an interesting frame of reference: what are the alternatives to constitutional democracy, and what do they look like in practice?
Framed within the context of democracy having become a global norm in recent decades, as well as the new challenges that have arisen as it has spread far beyond the affluent West, this course will introduce students to the fundamental political science debates about the phenomenon of democratization; explore the explanatory strength of key paradigms; and assess the extent to which such paradigms apply to the developing world. Specific topics will include: definitions of democratization and democratic consolidation, capitalist development and democratization, civil society, elite transitions and international interventions, democracy in divide societies, and electoral authoritarianism.
This course examines the classical foundations of the western intellectual tradition by engaging influential works in Greek, Roman, and Medieval political thought, focusing on questions regarding politics, nature, law, justice, and the best form of government.
This course surveys the development of political concepts in modern Western thought, beginning with an examination of Machiavelli’s challenge to Christianity and Classical political philosophy, and then tracing other paradigmatic shifts in political ideas as they begin to surface in 17th and 18th century Europe in the writings of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. The course’s journey through intellectual history will also explore the political ideas of liberal and democratic thinkers like the Federalists, Tocqueville, and Mill, before concluding with an investigation of important political philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Marx, Nietzsche, Washington, Du Bois, and Mussolini. Previously offered as POL SC 4004 (Topics): Modern Political Theory.
This course focuses on the dynamics of democracy. Specifically, 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. Over the course of the semester, we will look at the factors that brought this young French nobleman to the United States in the 1830s; consider what he saw and experienced during his travels in the early American republic; and explore many of his perceptive observations about the practical workings of democracy in America, including his studies of intellectual movements and public sentiments in the young nation, the relationship between democracy and religion, and the effects he anticipated democratic government and culture having on the evolution of a national literature. We will also examine Tocqueville’s writings about the French Revolution, focusing on how he contrasted the French and American experiences with democracy and weighing how his insights have echoed through time to our current age.
This course examines developments in the theory and practice of democracy from the ancient Greeks to the present. After studying the origins of democracy in the Hellenic city states, we will 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.
Students in the course will engage the founding texts of the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment, with special attention given to those that concerned humanity, politics, and democratic thought. Class time will thus be devoted not only to studying the ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment on their own but also to examining and discussing how these ideas influenced the founding principles and development of American democracy.
Taught in Washington, DC, by University of Missouri faculty, this course provides an experiential overview of American political history for students in the Kinder Scholars summer academic internship program. Emphasis is 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 (Cross-listed with HIS 4900).
The Political Science Internship provides students with a unique opportunity to contextualize their scholarship in the field of American constitutional democracy. By working in government or with a related non-governmental organization, students will wed theory and practice, gaining firsthand experience with the nation’s political process. In addition, they will develop a more nuanced understanding of the continuities that exist within this process through observing how the nation’s foundational principles still determine the course of contemporary politics.
Available to past and current members of the Kinder Institute’s Society of Fellows, this yearlong course will provide students with a thorough introduction to the process of creating a scholarly publication focused on the evolution of certain key aspects of American constitutional democracy. On the academic side, all students enrolled in the course will compose a scholarly article for the Journal, which will be organized each year around a new theme jointly chosen by internship participants and instructors. On the practical side, students will manage all aspects of producing the Journal and meeting its spring publication deadline. Tasks associated with the practical component of the course include (but are by no means limited to): soliciting and copyediting submissions, marketing and designing the Journal, and conceiving of all supplementary written and visual content. Cross-listed with HIS 4975, the course meets for 2 hours in the fall and 1 hour in the spring.
The Jefferson Book Club is a reading group for undergraduate students interested in examining great works from the Western tradition that influenced the American experience. The JBC meets monthly at The Tiger Club Bistro in Reynolds Alumni Center, and participants can receive one hour of course credit, with the instructor’s permission, by enrolling in Special Readings in Political Science using the 4986 course number. Contact JBC Coordinator Prof. Jay Dow (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions.
This course will examine contemporary and/or historical theories of justice and the state. Views covered in the course might include: Utilitarianism, Libertarianism, Marxism, and Feminism. In the course of their studies, students will be introduced to a number of concepts relevant to any examination of the founding principles and the historical development of American democracy from its origins through the present day (Same as PEA ST 4600).
This course will approach the history of law through an examination of texts that explore the philosophical origins and development of theories of justice and individual rights. We will ask and answer foundational questions, such as: What is law? Are there pre- or trans-legal rights? Is punishment justifiable? How can judicial decisions be justified? What are the relations between law and morality?