Kinder Institute Democracy Lab First-Year FIG
A living and 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, first-year 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 will live together during their first year and take classes with Kinder Institute faculty members together during the fall and spring semesters. Signing up is as easy as choosing “Kinder Institute Democracy Lab” on the online housing preference form with Mizzou’s Office of Residential Life.
Scholarships for the 2023-24 Democracy Lab cohort will open on September 1, 2022, with a deadline of February 1, 2023, and an early notification deadline of December 15, 2022. See the link below for application instructions and materials, and contact Dr. Thomas Kane, Kinder Institute Director of Undergraduate Studies, KaneTC@missouri.edu, with any questions.
Note: Scholarship applications will run through Mizzou’s central Scholarship Universe hub (see the Scholarships FAQ tab for a link to set up a profile there). Anyone who has trouble navigating Scholarship Universe should contact Dr. Kane at the email address above for help troubleshooting that platform.
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 live together during their first year, 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” on MU’s online housing preference form when it opens up each fall (typically in late-November/early-December). This will save your spot in the program, which you’ll then later confirm by signing a housing contract with Res Life. You’ll also have the option to complete a brief, encouraged (though not required) priority admission and scholarship application, which will be made available each year by September 1 through Mizzou’s central Scholarship Universe platform (instructions for creating a Scholarship Universe profile can be found here). Doing this will give you priority admission status, should we exceed our 40-student cap, and 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 15 early admission scholarship deadline will be notified about the status of their applications by the end of January at the latest. The deadline to apply will be February 1 each year.
Q: Where is the Democracy Lab housed?
A: One cohort will live in 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, and another will live in the Honors College’s Mark Twain Residence Hall.
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 idea and action in the early United States and beyond. During the fall, students will take either “Intellectual World of the American Founders” (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. Students who take POL_SC 2450 in the fall will also take HIST 2150: The American Civil War, a Global History, while students in GN_HON 2245H will have other courses determined on a year-to-year basis. In the spring, students will take either HIST 2100: The Revolutionary Transformation of Early America or the “Constitutions” half of the Honors social science sequence. Seats will be saved in another spring class (TBD each year) for all Democracy Lab participants.
All courses associated with the porogram 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. By completing all four KIRC classes, anyone not pursuing the B.A. will immediately become eligible for the Certificate in American Constitutional Democracy.
Along with the two three-credit 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 Graduate Teaching Assistant, 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 September 1 each year, with a deadline of February 1.
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 continue to live in the dorm. You can apply to be a Democracy Lab R.A. You can keep taking classes in the Constitutional Democracy B.A. curriculum whether you’re pursuing the major or not. And you can just 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.