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FRANK Talks

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Free, thought-provoking discussions on important issues facing our communities produced in partnership with Arizona Humanities and the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records.

What are FRANK Talks?

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FRANK Talks are interactive conversations on ideas that matter. Attendees discuss issues of local and national importance in local libraries at a 75-minute program. FRANK Talks encourage participants to weigh facts, provide the opportunity to put them in context, and consider different points of view. 

The goal of FRANK Talks is to inspire people to practice the skills of citizenship – to listen respectfully and engage thoughtfully with one another on important issues that affect our communities. Topics can include education, immigration, religion, civil rights, and more.

How can my library host a free FRANK Talk?

At this time, FRANK Talks are only available for Arizona libraries. Libraries review topics, contact facilitators to schedule a program(s), and complete an online application.

  1. Review the FRANK Talks facilitators and topics below.
  2. Contact the facilitator to schedule their participation and confirm date and time. Facilitator contact information is available below.
  3. Go to the Arizona Humanities online Grants and Programs Dashboard and complete the online application form. You should contact the facilitator and submit your application to book presentations. We encourage organizations to book FRANK Talks 4-6 weeks in advance.
  4. Once your application is processed, we will provide follow-up steps to administer your program.
  5. FRANK Talks are free for libraries. A partnership between Arizona Humanities and the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records pays for honorarium and travel for scholars.

FRANK Talks Cycles – New topics are updated each cycle. Libraries can book unlimited FRANK Talks per cycle.

  • October 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019
  • April 1, 2019 – September 30, 2019

FRANK Talks Topics

We The People: What does it mean to be a U.S. Citizen?

Dr. T.J. Davis, Arizona State University, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
What does it mean to be a U.S. citizen? Few discussions directly address the question or the difference between citizens and others in the United States. What is it that makes or allows citizens to be different from others? What can or should citizens be able to do that others cannot or should not be able to do? Join us for this FRANK Talk to explore the meaning of citizenship and how it informs the values of civic life, and public participation and policy in American democratic institutions.

Crime, Punishment, and Prisons in America

Dr. T.J. Davis, Arizona State University, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

The United States officially incarcerates more persons than any other nation on earth. Incarceration cost U.S. taxpayers more than $80 billion in 2016. Some states such as New York in the East and Washington in the West spend between $50,000 and $60,000 a year for each prisoner. What does that cost buy? What purposes does imprisonment serve or should it serve? Who should be imprisoned? For what? Why? Who should operate prisons in the United States–government or for-profit corporations? Join us for this FRANK Talk to explore issues of mass incarceration in America.

The spread of fake news: Is there a vaccine for that?

Gail Rhodes, Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Like a virus, fake news catches on erratically, intensely, and swiftly, and can leave the American public feeling dazed and confused. How can media producers and consumers cure the spread of this false-information outbreak? What steps are technology and media companies taking? How can we protect ourselves and maintain a healthy dose of democratic discourse and debate? Learn about the standard practices of journalism, and how to become a savvy news consumer. Join us for a FRANK Talk on how to find the right prescription for healthy media consumption.

Know Your First Amendment: What is freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly?

Gail Rhodes, Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The recent uproar over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem has sparked a nation-wide debate about free speech rights and the First Amendment. Learn how discourse around such hot-button topics can lead to misunderstanding about the First Amendment. What did the founding fathers mean when they wrote the First Amendment? What is the true spirit of the First Amendment? How can Americans allow for differences of opinion while maintaining civility and protection of individual constitutional rights? Join us for a lively FRANK Talk to discuss the First Amendment and the spirit of a healthy democracy.

Energy in an Uncertain World

Dr. Jennifer Richter, Arizona State University, School of Social Transformation and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society

With the advent of modern technology energy can be affordable, accessible, and sustainable for all Arizonans. However accessibility to sustainable energy is not just about technology, but also about the values and ideals that a society has about access to energy. What are the values that are driving energy production and distribution in today’s world? Who has access to sustainable, affordable energy, and who does not? What is the impact of unequal access to sustainable resources? Join us for a FRANK Talk examining the history of energy production in Arizona, and exploring potential ideas, policies, programs, and technologies that will shape the production of energy in the future.

Water in the Southwest: Where have we been, and where are we going?

Dr. Jennifer Richter, Arizona State University, School of Social Transformation and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society

It has been said that, “Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting.” This is especially true of water politics in the American Southwest, a region defined by its lack of water. The massive 20th century federal investments into dam systems controlled the great rivers of the West, allowing cities like Phoenix to “bloom like a rose” and grow exponentially. As we work for our future in the 21st century, many questions arise. Where does our water come from? Who benefited from changing water politics? How did moving water systems from one place to another affect different communities, and how have those effects been recognized through treaties and policies governing water? And perhaps most importantly, in the face of a changing climate; how sustainable are our present-day water policies and infrastructure? Join us for an interesting FRANK Talk on water in the southwest.

Can We Get Along? Talking to Each Other About Controversies Now

Matt Kundert, University of Arizona, Department of English

Democracy is based on hope, the hope that we might solve our problems by talking to each other. Current controversies reflect our nation’s complex history, politics and values. Our views on whether or not America has changed for the better, or for the worse, can differ sharply within our families, our friends, and co-workers. Cultural changes, technological developments, and 24/7 media shape our sense of inclusion and exclusion, what is true and false, what connects us and divides us. How do we balance respect for the people around us, in our neighborhoods and communities? How do we keep the conversation going about difficult political and social events? How can we listen to, and learn from, experiences and opinions different from our own? Join us for a FRANK Talk exploring what brings us together and what separates us.

Borders, Walls, and Immigration

Scott Warren, Freelance Geographer

Immigration is one of the most divisive issues facing our country and our state. Who comes in and out of the U.S., and how? Do current immigration laws effectively promote national security and economic prosperity, without compromising human and civil rights? In Arizona border security and immigration policies are more than media and political talking points. They shape our everyday lives, and the land and people that live here in complex ways. Join us for an interesting FRANK Talk on immigration and borders.

Facilitator Information

Bios and Contact Information

Dr. Jennifer Richter is an assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Social Transformation and the Consortium of Science, Policy and Outcomes. Her research interests are at the intersections of science and society, and how federal policies are enacted locally. Dr. Richter focuses on energy justice, specifically in relation to nuclear and renewable energy production, and how production affects different communities. By examining how science and technology policies collide with local expectations and understanding of the environment and economy, Dr. Richter explores the different scales of energy technologies and policies and their effects on people. Contact:  jennifer.richter@asu.edu / 480-727-9308

Matt Kundert is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Arizona’s English department.  His primary area of study is 19th-century American literature, and his dissertation is on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing as a philosophical meditation on democracy and the gnomic. Kundert has taught freshman composition for the last 6 years in UA’s Writing Program, affording him the opportunity to help people understand and articulate their own views, and better understand those of others. Contact: mkundert@email.arizona.edu / 206-518-0512

Dr. Thomas J. Davis teaches U.S. constitutional and legal history at ASU and has taught as a visiting professor of law at the ASU College of Law. As an historian and lawyer, in addition to constitutional matters, he focuses on civil rights, particularly on issues of race, identity and law, employment, and property law. Davis received his Ph.D. in U.S. history from Columbia University and his JD cum laude from the University at Buffalo Law School. He is the author most recently of History of African Americans: Exploring Diverse Roots (Santa Barbara CA, 2016). Contact: tjdavis@asu.edu / 480-812-0823

Gail Rhodes is a PhD student and an adjunct professor at the Cronkite School with more than 16 years of professional experience working as a television reporter. She worked for the Fox Sports Network in Chicago and helped to launch the Comcast Sports Network. Rhodes has been an adjunct professor for Cronkite since 2014, where she teaches advanced television sports reporting, and advanced topics in sports media. Her doctoral studies focus on the intersection of sports culture, media and society. Contact: glrhodes@asu.edu / 312-671-8141

Scott Warren is a cultural geographer who lives in Ajo, Arizona. As an academic geographer, Warren researches and teaches about the intersection of people and place at the Mexico-U.S. border. He works to bring the experiences of the Arizona-Sonora borderlands into his classrooms, while at the same time getting his students out of the classroom and into the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. Contact: scottdw1@gmail.com / 928-318-7083

For questions, contact:

Dyadira Fajardo, Programs and Grants Coordinator

602-257-0335 or dfajardo@azhumanities.org

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Why the name FRANK Talks?

Lorraine Frank 400x265FRANK Talks is named in part to honor Lorraine W. Frank, the founding Executive Director of Arizona Humanities. During her tenure from 1973 to 1989, she elevated public discourse and understood that engaging communities in dialogue was critical to the life of our state. Lorraine W. Frank passed away in 2005, and in 2015 she was inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame.