Society of Fellows

The Society of Fellows is a competitive academic fellowship program exclusive to University of Missouri undergraduates that provides participants with an opportunity to build an intellectual community devoted to collective exploration of, and to passionate, civil discussion about, the intellectual origins and early history of constitutional democracy in the U.S., as well as important, often overlooked connections between both the nation’s past and present and between the United States and the wider world. The three cornerstones of the Society of Fellows program are detailed below.

Applications for the 2024-25 Society of Fellows are now closed and will re-open in Spring 2025.

Summer Residential Conference

The Society of Fellows kicks off each year with a two-day, three-night residential summer conference held at the Tiger Hotel in downtown Columbia. The conference provides each new class of fellows with an introduction to the program’s interdisciplinary approach to studying the global history of constitutional democracy through a series of seminars, discussions, and dinners with Kinder Institute faculty. Past seminars have examined topics ranging from the origins of American music, to the constitutional history of the founding of D.C., to Peruvian political thought. Participation in the summer residential conference is a mandatory component of membership in the Society of Fellows.

Exclusive In-Semester Events

Keeping with the program’s overarching theme of encouraging students to think about and study democracy from as many disciplinary angles as possible, the Kinder Institute organizes a wide-range of events—at least one per month—that are geared toward accomplishing this goal. These might include lectures that are part of Kinder Institute programming or specifically designed for Fellows; the quarterly “Dead Poets Society of Fellows” literature and politics reading group; cultural excursions to plays, concerts, or movies happening on campus or in Columbia; local history tours; and more.

Journal on Constitutional Democracy

Members of each class of the Society of Fellows are invited to take part in the creation of the Kinder Institute’s undergrad-run Journal on Constitutional Democracy. Founded by Anurag Chandran, a member of the Institute’s inaugural class of undergraduate fellows, the Journal consists of primary source-driven, scholarly articles that explore a new theme chosen each year by Journal staff members that is relevant to the Kinder Institute’s scholarly focus on the underlying theory, historical evolution, and contemporary practice of constitutional democracy in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to writing all content, undergraduate staffers are responsible for editing, designing, and marketing each volume of the Journal. Past articles have critiqued the rhetoric of the Satanic Panic and the prudence of Major League Baseball’s anti-trust exemption; explored the democratic tendencies of primate communities; unpacked the un-republican history of the territory governed by the 1787 Northwest Ordinance; and closely studied the poetry and political thought of South African anti-Apartheid activist Dennis Brutus.

More details about the Journal can be found here.

Students can receive up to three (3) course credits (two in the fall semester and an additional one in the spring) for their participation in the creation of the Journal by enrolling in the CNST_DEM/ 4975 or 4975H: Journal on Constitutional Democracy course.