Announcing the SC Humanities Electoral Initiative

South Carolina Humanities is pleased to announce a series of virtual programs exploring the American electoral process.  All eleven programs will be free, open to the public, and accessible via the SC Humanities website from October 2020 through April 2021.  To offer these programs, SC Humanities has brought together scholars from the Political Science Departments of four state universities: Clemson University, Francis Marion University, Lander University, and the University of South Carolina.  Program topics include the outcome of the Presidential and Congressional elections, the electoral college, social media election content, election law, gerrymandering, voting rights, voter suppression, and more.

The South Carolina Humanities Electoral Initiative is part of a national initiative entitled “Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation” administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Through “Why It Matters,” 43 humanities councils will explore the history, importance, and impact of the American electoral process.  The initiative is designed to provide free humanities programs to engage the public in collaborative, accessible, and thought-provoking dialogues on the importance of electoral and civic participation.

Events:

Programs below that are noted as “live” on specific days will be recorded and thereafter available via a link on the SC Humanities website through April 30, 2021.  A simple three-question survey will accompany each program so that SC Humanities can evaluate the program and the series as well as respond to audience inquiries for more information. 

  • Available on-demand starting December 1, 2020 – “Law, Justice, and the Future of U.S. Elections” is a pre-recorded presentation by Professor Lori Ringhand of the University of Georgia School of Law will discuss election law, regulations, and citizen engagement.  The program is hosted by the University of South Carolina.
  • January 25, 2021, 5:30 p.m. – “Post Inauguration Day Analysis: Where do we go from here?” is a live, virtual roundtable with Lander University political science facultyDr. Matthew Malone, Dr. Lucas McMillan, Dr. Kimberly Richburg, and Dr. Ashley Woodiwiss.  In addition to election analysis at the national and state levels, panelists will discuss the roles of women in politics, crisis management in a time of polarization, and the view of the United States from abroad.
  • February 8, 2021, 5:30 p.m. – “Lessons from November: Who voted, who didn’t, and why does it matter?” is a live, virtual seminar with political scientists Dr. Amy E. Blackof Wheaton College and Dr. Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University.  Black is author of Honoring God in Red or Blue and Beyond Left and Right.  Kidd has provided expert testimony to courts examining states’ re-districting plans and is co-author of The Rational Southerner: Black Mobilization, Republican Growth, and the Partisan Transformation of the American South.  Topics include voting rights, voter access, and voter suppression as well as re-districting in the past and following Census 2020.  The program is hosted by Lander University.
  • February 15, 2021, 7:00 p.m. – “Ranked Choice Voting (RCV): A Better Alternative?” Francis Marion University faculty members Dr. Richard Almeida, Dr. Lauren Perez, and Dr. Dillon Tatum will discuss positive and negative impacts of increasing voter input into the political system via ranked choice voting.  Ranked choice voting is used in local elections in more than 20 U.S. cities and in statewide elections in Maine.  It allows voters to indicate their order of preference for all candidates running for an elective office.
  • February 22, 2021, 5:30 p.m. – “The Engaged Citizen: Stories from Activists” is a live, virtual roundtable with Mary Anne Inglis, former manager of Republican congressional campaigns and now co-founder of My Neighbor’s Voice, an organization that hosts forums on how to build stronger communities in a time of toxic partnership; Laurin Manning Gandy, a digital media strategist who has worked on Democratic presidential campaigns; and Jerry Blassingame, Executive Director of Soteria Community Development Corporation.  Topics include avenues for civic engagement, ideological polarization, and the rural/urban divide. Hosted by Lander University.
  • March 8, 2021, 5:30 p.m. – “What is needed to keep a democracy healthy?” Dr. Steven Levitsky, Professor of Government at Harvard University, will share insights from his best-selling book How Democracies Die (co-authored with Daniel Ziblatt). Levitsky uses comparative and geographic-based analysis on the functioning of democracies.  He will discuss the challenges that democracies face in the 21st century.  A pre-recorded virtual presentation will be available on March 1 before this live, virtual webinar on March 8. Hosted by Lander University.

Questions about the series? Contact Dr. Alice Taylor-Colbert at atcolbert@schumanities.org.

The mission of South Carolina Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.