Jay Sexton named inaugural Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy’s chairman

Sexton has previously served as a lecturer and tutorial fellow at the University of Oxford.
Courtesy of MU News Bureau

Jay Sexton, a lecturer and tutorial fellow at the University of Oxford in England, has been named the inaugural chairman for MU’s Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy.

Sexton will also teach a standard class load, mentor graduate students and continue to pursue research, said Justin Dyer, Kinder Institute director and associate professor of political science.

A Kansas native, Sexton returns to the Midwest after nearly two decades abroad. After serving in various roles, including director at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford, Sexton will offer an international perspective to MU students, Dyer said.

“He’s a great addition for many reasons,” Dyer said. “He is an internationally acclaimed historian who brings a lot of prestige to our history department and to the Kinder Institute.”

Sexton’s position at MU officially began Sept. 1, but he began teaching classes at the start of this semester and working with the Kinder Institute in early August, according to a news release. Sexton also presented a lecture in August on “Brexit,” Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, during the Kinder Institute’s Society of Fellows Summer Residential Conference in Columbia.

“It was really great because it was relative to now instead of just history talk,” Kinder Institute Fellow and junior Emma Earley said about Sexton’s Brexit lecture.

Sexton is currently teaching Slavery and the Crisis of Union: The Civil War Era, 1848-1877 in MU’s history department. He will also have opportunities to teach American history survey courses along with other courses through the department, Dyer said.

According to the Kinder Institute’s summer 2016 newsletter, Sexton spent 16 of the past 17 years at Oxford. Associate Director and History professor Jeff Pasley said Sexton’s time spent abroad will bring a unique, transnational understanding of American politics and history and a much-needed positive spotlight to MU.

“[Hiring Sexton will] rejuvenate the study of American political history on a very broad level, making it a center of interest in the university and making it something that attracts students to the university,” Pasley said.

Every academic year, the Kinder Institute welcomes approximately 20 undergraduate students to its Society of Fellows and approximately 20 undergraduate students to their Kinder Scholars Washington D.C. program. The institute also offers a minor and certificate in constitutional democracy, honors tutorials in conjunction with MU’s Honors College and a study abroad program.

These programs present a number of opportunities through programs hosted in Washington D.C. and abroad, Dyer said. The program also allows for students to engage in conversations and debates about democracy and learn from academics within and outside MU.

“I know the graduate students are very excited,” Dyer said. “He is a great resource here on campus for students studying history.”

Adding staff such as Sexton allows for the program to expand, 2015 Kinder Scholar and senior Maddie McMillian said.

“He will give more name recognition for the program and help the program to expand,” McMillian said. “It is a great opportunity for students if they are able to learn from [Sexton].”

Edited by Claire Mitzel | cmitzel@themaneater.com

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