Press Release

Illinois Humanities Announces New Road Scholars Roster

Illinois Humanities Announces 2015-2016 Road Scholars Roster

Roster of thirty-six presenters offer Illinois cultural institutions high-quality public humanities programming in English and Spanish


CHICAGO, IL – December 15, 2015 –Illinois Humanities is proud to announce the 2015-2016 roster for the Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, a program that invites organizations throughout the state to host high-quality public humanities events on a variety of subjects – from the original poetry about Civil Rights advocate Fannie Lou Hamer or the life and career of John Deere to the experiences of cloistered Poor Clare Colettine nuns in the Midwest.

Founded in 1997, the Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau has become an integral component of Illinois’s cultural landscape.  It enables organizations in communities of all sizes in all regions of the state to host intellectually stimulating, socially relevant presentations featuring some of Illinois’s foremost authors, artists, and educators for a fee of only $75 per event.

The 2015-16 roster includes 36 presenters representing more than 20 Illinois communities from Freeport to Grand Chain and from Champaign to Quincy.  It encompasses four programs that can be presented in Spanish as well as English: “The History of Railroad Boxcar Communities in the Chicago Area and the Midwest” by Antonio Delgado, “Latino Hip-Hop as a New Poetry” by Catalina Maria Johnson, “Causes and Costs of Corruption” by Juliet Sorensen, and “A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Abiding Call” by Kevin Wood.

The roster represents a balance between new additions of intriguing presentations by talented presenters and such longtime favorites as Jon Austin’s demonstration of Civil War-era embalming, John Hallwas’s musings on the contributions of Illinois authors to American literature, and musical presentations by Dennis Stroughmatt and Chris Vallillo, among others.

A number of presentations on the roster are intended to be relevant to younger audiences.  In addition to several already mentioned, they include “Superheroes and Patriots: Comic Book Propaganda Revealed” by Brian Russell and “The River as Time Machine” by Brian “Fox” Ellis.

Many of the options allow for active audience participation and discussion.  Some, including “The Virtuous Patient: A Middle Way Between Doormat and Royal Pain for Patient Self-Management” by J.K. Miles and “Disability as Diversity: While Real Inclusion Changes Everything” by David Perry can foster dialogue about issues of concrete importance to individuals and society.

The Road Scholars Speakers Bureau is an integral part of Illinois Humanities’ mission to increase access to high-quality public humanities programs to statewide audiences and to strengthen society by fueling inquiry and conversation about the ideas and works that shape our culture.

“Libraries, museums, arts councils, historical societies, and civic groups from the Wabash to the Mississippi and from Lake Michigan to the Ohio eagerly request our Road Scholars presentations and consistently report high levels of satisfaction with them,” commented Matt Meacham, program coordinator for access with Illinois Humanities.

Nonprofit organizations of all types in Illinois may now apply to host presentations selected from the Road Scholars Speakers Bureau’s 2015-16 roster, which will be in effect from November 1, 2015, through October 31, 2016.  Organizations interested in offering Illinois Humanities Road Scholars programs are asked to visit and read the section entitled “How to host a Road Scholars Speakers Bureau event” for directions. Please contact Matt Meacham with any questions at or (312) 422-5589.