Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

This site is archival. Please visit for up-to-date content.

MU Kinder Institute Names Oxford Scholar as New Chair in Constitutional Democracy

August 29th, 2016

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Officials from the University of Missouri Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy announced today that Jay Sexton, an internationally acclaimed historian, has been named the inaugural Kinder Institute Chair in Constitutional Democracy. Sexton, who will begin his position at MU on Sept. 1, will be leaving his position as lecturer and tutorial fellow at the University of Oxford’s Corpus Christi College and director of the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford, the largest institute outside North America for the study of U.S. politics, history, culture, literature, and international relations.

“The Kinder Institute quickly has become a national center of excellence for the study of American political thought and history,” Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said. “The addition of Dr. Sexton as the first Kinder Institute Chair in Constitutional Democracy will contribute to the University’s growing reputation as a national and international hub for scholarship on the United States’ constitutional and democratic traditions.”

Sexton, a native of Salina, Kan., has spent nearly the last two decades abroad, first as a Marshall Scholar and most recently as a tutor and fellow at Oxford University. Sexton says he chose to come to Mizzou due to the importance of academic centers such as the Kinder Institute that trace the history and evolution of the nation’s democratic traditions from their philosophical origins to their current state.

“It is more important than ever to have the Kinder Institute shaping discussion and debate on the nature and development of constitutional democracy, not least because the study and teaching of political history and thought is primed for a revival,” Sexton said. “The Kinder Institute can lead this resurgence, not just at the University of Missouri, but across the United States and internationally. In this day and age it is important that we research and teach the global dimensions of constitutional democracy. This means awareness of how external forces have shaped American traditions, just as how U.S. practices of constitutional democracy have conditioned the political development of nations and institutions beyond America’s shores.”

Renowned for his work on 19th century U.S. global history, Sexton will add a critical new voice to the group of cutting-edge scholars gathered at the Kinder Institute. His expertise will be instrumental in helping undergraduate and graduate students at Mizzou forge important connections between the United States’ political trajectory and that of the rest of the world.

“The addition of Dr. Sexton will raise the profile of the University as a destination for students and scholars of American constitutional democracy,” said Justin Dyer, director of the Kinder Institute. “As a world-renowned scholar, award-winning teacher, and former director of the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University, Dr. Sexton will immediately add to the international reputation and stature of the Kinder Institute and University.”

At MU, Sexton will continue work on his current book project studying the history of the steam transport networks that connected the United States to the wider world in the 19th century. Also, Sexton will revive the study of Civil War history at MU, teaching the class “Slavery and the Crisis of Union: The Civil War Era, 1848-1877.” Sexton is the author of The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America and Debtor Diplomacy: Finance and American Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era, 1837-1873. He also is the co-editor of Empire’s Twin: U.S. Anti-Imperialism from the Founding Era to the Age of Terrorism, with Ian Tyrrell, and The Global Lincoln, with Richard Carwardine. Sexton also is widely published in leading academic journals, including Diplomatic History, American Nineteenth Century History, and The Journal of the Civil War Era. Prior to joining the faculty at University of Oxford, he served as a Mellon Junior Research Fellow in American History at University of Cambridge.

The Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy is an interdisciplinary academic center at the University of Missouri established in October 2015 with a $25 million gift from the Kinder Foundation, a family philanthropic foundation established in 1997 by Rich and Nancy Kinder of Houston, Texas. The Institute promotes excellence in teaching and scholarship about American constitutional and democratic principles, history and traditions. The Kinder Institute supports the research and scholarship of MU faculty, undergraduate and graduate students who seek to explore questions related to the history, theory and practice of constitutional democracy as it was crafted by the American founders and developed in subsequent generations.