The 2021–2022 Spotlight Series: Reconsidering Patriotism, Public Service, and Civic Engagement


We are pleased to announce the 2021–2022 Spotlight Series: Reconsidering Patriotism, Public Service, and Civic Engagement.

The series is FREE and open to the public (registration requested), and will be held online via Zoom and in person at Northrop in the Best Buy Theater (masks required).

The University of Minnesota Spotlight Series is a collaborative partnership between the University Honors Program, Institute for Advanced Study, and Northrop, to present lectures, panel discussions, exhibits, and other events throughout the academic year around timely topics of interest. The six-part 2021-22 series, hosted in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center, focuses on patriotism, public service, and civic engagement. The moderator for all six events will be Kevin Lindsey, CEO of Minnesota Humanities Center. All events are Thursdays from 3:30-5:00 pm. Q&A sessions will follow each event.


Series Events

Policing and Public/Community Safety

Thursday, September 16, 2021  |  3:30 p.m.

Keith Ellison, Minnesota Attorney General
Georgia Fort, independent journalist
Booker Hodges, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Public Safety

There can be no question that 2020 marked a high-water point in the level of tension evident between police forces and the communities they serve. What brought our country to this moment? How can citizens best hold their police forces accountable? What does it mean to be a member of the police and also a citizen of the state? Is the current model of policing the best way to safeguard the public? A moderated panel discussion will consider these, and other questions, as we examine this watershed moment in American history.


The Military and the Role of Citizen Soldier

Thursday, October 14, 2021  |  3:30 p.m.

Dr. David Hamlar
Brig. Gen. recently retired Assistant Adjutant General
Air, Minnesota National Guard

As we honor October as Veterans’ Voices Month in Minnesota, it is an opportunity to explore the role of civilian and military leadership with Brigadier General David D. Hamlar Jr. The United States has a huge, well-funded military, but at the highest levels, it is overseen by civilians. How effective has our country been in sustaining this balance between civilian and military views? What might each group have to learn from the other? Among the many divisions that plague our country today, is this one of them?


Art as Protest and Patriotism

Thursday, November 11, 2021  |  3:30 p.m.

Janet Wong, Associate Artistic Director; New York Live Arts
Pauline Kim Harris, Violinist and Composer
Marie Paspe, Performer; Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane company created Afterwardsness as a socially-distanced work in response to our twin pandemics: COVID-19 and on-going violence against Black bodies. Three collaborators from the production discuss the personal and political implications of the work, and how creating performance in response to systemic problems is both an act of protest and of patriotism.


The American Flag as a Cultural Symbol

Thursday, February 17, 2022  |  3:30 p.m.

Professor Marc Clague, University of Michigan

Music historian Marc Clague launches the dialogue about the American flag with his work on our national anthem. In this panel discussion, Professor Clague will lead us into a consideration of the various emblems of U.S. patriotism—most importantly, the stars and bars of our flag—and what role it plays in defining national identity and staking out political ideologies. Long a symbol of devotion, and of hatred, both nationally and abroad, the United States flag and its attendant artifacts of American patriotism serve as a touchstone to reflect on American identity and the current moment.


Voter Access & Agency and Election Security

Thursday, March 24, 2022  |  3:30 p.m.

While some states race to restrict early/absentee voting, voting-by-mail, and voting by convicted felons, others strive to make polling places more accessible to people with disabilities, and to expand same-day voting registration. How much was the 2020 election a catalyst for these actions? What are the historical trends and factors that have brought us to the present moment? What does evidence tell us about various forms of voting access and the prevalence of election fraud? These, and other questions, will inform a lively panel discussion about the fundamental right and responsibility of living in a functioning democracy.


Unpacking the Middle

Thursday, April 7, 2022  |  3:30 p.m.

Despite consistent and widespread interest in third-party politics, recent, record-low ratings for the U.S. Congress, and the ever-widening political chasm between the left and the right, America remains as firmly ensconced in the two-party system as ever. Often left out of the political fray are the voices, experiences, and aims of the so-called moderate middle. Who comprises this group? How do they influence American politics at levels from local to national? And what does the future portend for the role of the middle in healing our divide and possibly escaping the persistent oversimplifications that a binary system presents to U.S. voters? Politicians and academics join the conversation sparked by these timely questions.



2021-22 Spotlight Series MHC Logos



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