Ohio Humanities seeks to make a positive contribution to public conversations in 2020 with the addition of new Speakers Bureau talks. Our aim is to spark statewide engagement in topics that highlight the significant anniversaries of Women’s Suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, and the May 4th Kent State unrest. We also seek to provide opportunities for the public to engage in conversations about the importance of media literacy and its role in democracy.

Starting September 1, 2019, Ohio organizations will be able apply to host speakers after November 1. The Ohio Humanities Speakers Bureau provides high-quality and thought-provoking talks by scholars and other experts. Organizations, including libraries, schools, civic organizations and history museums, select which talk they’d like to bring to their community and apply to Ohio Humanities for support. If selected, Ohio Humanities provides the speaker an honorarium of $400.

Dependent on available funding, a limited number of programs will be scheduled.


The typical Speakers Bureau presentation is 45-75 minutes with time for audience questions and conversation. Presentations should be geared towards adult audiences and rooted in quality humanities research.

Below are questions that we would like new Speakers Bureau talks to address:

Women’s Suffrage:

How did Ohio women participate in the national suffrage movement?

How did women shape policy and politics before or after they won the right to vote?

How did the women’s suffrage movement inspire and affect the women’s equality movements of the 1960s and 1970s?

Civil Rights Movement:

How did Ohioans participate in the Civil Rights movement?

What were the key turning points that led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act?

Why do we continue to examine the Civil Rights movement today?

May 4th Anniversary:

How can we continue to highlight these stories and use them to explore questions about activism, gun violence, and similar events that have occurred within living memory?

How and why are the oral histories on this topic still relevant today?

Democracy and the Informed Citizen:

What role does the media play in democracy? How has it changed overtime?

What does it mean to be an informed citizen? Why is that important?


The ideal Speakers Bureau member:

  • Shares Ohio Humanities’ vision for open-ended, non-partisan and thoughtful discussion about history and its implications today.
  • Is enthusiastic about sharing the insights of the humanities with Ohioans.
  • Is not afraid to tackle difficult topics and help communities discuss hard questions.
  • Has advanced training, such as an M.A. or Ph.D., in the humanities, including but not limited to literature, history, cultural studies, philosophy, media studies, art history or religious studies.


A compelling idea – Great talks are interesting and are usually built around one focused idea. However, they start—with a question, with a bold claim or with posing a problem—they should leave the audience with a refreshed feeling of encountering a new idea and wanting to know more.

Dynamic, easy speaking style – Some speakers are funny, some are serious, but all great speakers share a few things in common:

  • they’re able to adjust their tone and formality depending on the audience
  • they avoid arcane jargon and confusing syntax
  • they have the charisma to hold the attention of a crowd

Great talks are more than just a paper read out loud.

Deep expertise – The speaker knows his or her stuff! Usually this is demonstrated by advanced study such as an M.A. or PhD in a humanities field.

Unexpected connections – The speaker makes the case for how his or her specific topic is a lens for thinking about the larger historical context, a broader philosophical question, a contemporary debate or phenomenon, etc.

Relevance – The speaker has spent time thinking about how to make his or her talk relevant to non-specialist, general public audiences, often by creating a hook that connects to people’s everyday lives.

At the time of your application, you’ll be asked to provide:

  • Talk title and description
  • CV/Resume
  • One speaking reference
  • Short reflections on why your talk is important and why you want to join the Speakers Bureau

We are open to proposals on other relevant ideas. For more information on how to apply, please contact Sam Chase, Speakers Bureau coordinator, schase@ohiohumanities.org or call the office at 614-461-7802.