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MU Launches Initiative to Promote Knowledge of American Political System and Constitutional Democracy

August 14th, 2014

Story Contact: Jeff Sossamon, 573-882-3346,

By Sarah Clinton

COLUMBIA, Mo. – This fall, the University of Missouri departments of history and political science will unveil a new program to support excellence in the teaching and study of American constitutional and democratic traditions. The Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy includes initiatives for undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty.

“One of the missions of state universities is to educate students about our political system and the founding principles of our country,” said Justin Dyer, an associate professor in the MU Department of Political Science and director of the Kinder Forum. “As Missouri’s flagship university, MU is well-positioned to be a national leader in teaching and scholarship centered around American constitutional democracy.”

Throughout the year, the forum will provide undergraduate students with opportunities to explore the political, economic and cultural conditions that laid the foundation for American self-government. Planned events include many that will be open to the public, such as guest lectures, as well as options for MU students exclusively, including an undergraduate fellowship program and a new interdisciplinary minor open to students from all academic disciplines.

“The Kinder Forum mirrors the duties of land-grant institution faculty by focusing on three main areas, which are teaching, research and public service,” Dyer said. “When we are able to recruit renowned researchers to train undergraduate and graduate students at MU, who often go on to become teachers and policymakers across the state and nation, we contribute to this mission.”

By providing fellowships and grants for research and travel, the Kinder Forum also will support the professional activities of faculty and graduate students who are exploring foundational questions related to the practice of constitutional democracy.

“These programs will raise the status of the university,” Dyer said. “Often, people do not understand that undergraduate education and faculty research are complementary and intertwined; this program provides support for both of those measures. Excellence in scholarship leads to the recruitment of world-class scholars who will educate our students as well as conduct important research.”

The Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy is a partner program of the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History and is made possible by a generous grant from the Kinder Foundation, a family foundation established by Rich and Nancy Kinder. It is housed in the MU departments of history and political science in the MU College of Arts and Science.

For more information on the Kinder Forum, visit:

Editor’s Note: For a longer version of this story, visit: The Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy Begins Inaugural Year.