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Civic engagement will be topic of humanities series

Nevada Humanities has been awarded $50,000 by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of a new national initiative, “Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation”, which will explore civic participation as it relates to electoral engagement in a multivocal democracy.

Nevada Humanities joins 42 other states and territories of the United States that will be conducting programs throughout the course of the initiative. The initiative began in October 2020 and will run through spring 2021.

Nevada Humanities’ Why It Matters initiative will host free humanities programs and events to engage the people of Nevada in collaborative dialogues on the importance of electoral and civic participation. Programs will explore the history of civic and electoral engagement in Nevada, the state legislative system, voting access in tribal communities, new voters, communities working to re-enfranchise formerly incarcerated people to vote and other related topics.

These events are meant to bring people together to talk, share, learn, and listen using the humanities to promote understanding through historical context and conversation.

“Civic participation has been on all of our minds this year, not only with record-breaking voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election but unprecedented public protests and demonstrations in a renewed call for social justice in the United States,” said Christina Barr, executive director of Nevada Humanities. “With a longstanding commitment to bringing people together to share ideas and perspectives, Nevada Humanities is honored to be hosting conversations about voting rights and the history of voting in Nevada.”

Several specific programs will be launched through this initiative, including “Nevada Voices: The First Time I Voted”, is an online series featuring videos and essays from people around the state, reflecting on the first time they cast their vote in an election.

Why It Matters includes a special series of online conversation programs through April around the topics of voting, electoral participation and civic engagement, featuring academics, journalists and community leaders working in the field. This series will be moderated by Todd Felts, teaching associate professor of public relations and advertising at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“Why It Matters: The Past, Present, and Future of Voting in the United States”, the first event in this four-part series, will be held virtually on Zoom at 4 p.m. Jan. 14 and features journalist Erin Geiger Smith and Nevada historian Michael Green. This discussion highlights the history of democracy and how voting rights have expanded over time, both here in Nevada and across the nation. Register for this event at nevadahumanities.org.

Other upcoming events in the Why It Matters series include a conversation with Nevada elected officials on how they came to politics, Native American voting rights in Nevada and re-enfranchised voters in Nevada. Visit nevadahumanities.org for more information.

Nevada Humanities is one of 56 independent, nonprofit state and territorial humanities councils affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities. With offices in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada Humanities creates public programs and supports public projects statewide that define the Nevada experience and facilitate the exploration of issues that matter to the people of Nevada and their communities.

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