Truly realizing the Kinder Institute’s overall goal of promoting greater understanding of the origins, history, and present state of constitutional democracy in the U.S. and around the globe requires producing and supporting cutting-edge scholarship in the humanities, social sciences, and beyond that addresses these topics. As the selections below indicate, much of what we do on this front takes the form of creating forums where faculty and graduate students share and discuss the projects that they’re working on.

We also bring this work into the community, hosting public talks throughout the academic year that explore questions and ideas that allow us to draw connections between democracy’s past and present and that provide glimpses into its future. In 2022-23, for example, our speakers examined topics ranging from the culture of national security secrets in modern America, to a global history of the U.S. Civil War, and from the transatlantic origins of federalism, to abolition in the Pacific Northwest. We’re also committed to expanding the community we bring this work to, with plans to host at least one lecture in St. Louis and Kansas City each year, in addition to our regular keynote and distinguished lectures in Columbia.

Postdoctoral Fellowships

To advance the careers of recently-minted Ph.D.s in History, Political Science, and Government, the Kinder Institute sponsors a number of postdoctoral fellows each year in Political History and Political Thought & Constitutionalism. The postdoctoral fellowships are one-year appointments, typically with the possibility of renewal for a second and third year, and provide recipients with office space at the Kinder Institute, a vibrant intellectual community with which to share research, and the opportunity to teach and develop undergraduate courses for the Institute’s new B.A. in Constitutional Democracy, as well as for MU’s B.A. programs in History and Political Science.


Studies in Constitutional Democracy Book Series

Studies in Constitutional Democracy, the Kinder Institute’s interdisciplinary monograph series with University of Missouri Press, officially launched in April 2016 with the publication of MU Professors James Endersby and Bill Horner’s co-authored Lloyd Gaines and the Fight to End Segregation, the first manuscript to devote itself entirely to exploring the historical and political significance of Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938), an integral, though often overlooked, landmark in civil rights history. Since then, the Institute and Press have continued to put out at least two books per year on topics that plumb the foundations, origins, evolution, and application of constitutional democracy in the U.S. and around the globe, from before the American Revolution into the 21st century.


Shawnee Trail Conference on American Politics & Constitutionalism

In the early nineteenth century, the Shawnee Trail conveyed cattle from Texas pasture-lands to Missouri railheads and thence the nation. Drawing on this spirit of regional connections and networks of exchange, the Shawnee Trail Conference was launched in 2015 as a way for scholars throughout the Midwest to share their research on topics related to American politics and constitutionalism with colleagues in a serious but convivial setting. Over time, the conference has outgrown its regional roots to become a national gathering that draws professors and graduate students from both coasts to a location in the middle of the United States for a day of roundtable paper presentations and lively conversation.


Missouri Regional Seminar on Early American History

Launched with the Kinder Institute in 2014, the Missouri Regional Seminar on Early American History (MRSEAH) provides scholars working on topics related to American history before 1900 with an opportunity to share research-in-progress with colleagues from around the Midwest in a constructive and convivial workshop setting. We welcome work on all aspects of American history, broadly defined Missouri-style to extend geographically throughout the Americas and Atlantic World, and chronologically from pre-colonial times forward through the 19th century.

Drawing its core members from faculty, graduate students, and public historians of the greater St. Louis area and Missouri River Valley, the MRSEAH meets twice per academic semester, once each in St. Louis and Columbia, with plans in the works for a fifth seminar in Kansas City.


Electocracy in America & the Atlantic World: Spring 2024 Conference

Throughout the world, disinformation, political violence, and other attacks on established political norms are inspiring citizens to defend open and competitive elections, fact-based political debate, and the rule of law. But what is it, exactly, that we are defending?

This question, and more, will be answered at the March 15-16, 2024, Conference on “Electocracy in America & the Atlantic World: Elections and their Alternatives.” Co-convened by Kinder Institute Chair in Early American History Jeff Pasley and Duke University Associate Professor of History Reeve Huston, the conference will test-drive “electocracy” as an historical concept, gathering scholars of electoral and governmental practices and institutions, organized dissent, and contextualized political thought in order to stimulate interdisciplinary and cross-national discussion of election-based regimes as systems of power.