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Free, thought-provoking, expert-facilitated 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 face-to-face conversations on ideas that matter. Attendees discuss issues of local and national importance in local libraries at a single-session 75-minute program, led by a humanities scholar/expert on the topic. FRANK Talks engage participants with important issues and provide the opportunity to put them in context, weigh facts, 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?

FRANK Talks launched in 2016 at Arizona Libraries. The application process is very similar to the AZ Speaks program; libraries review topics, contact scholars to schedule a program(s), and complete an online application. Unlike the AZ Speaks lecture-style format, FRANK Talks are interactive, participatory, and designed to engage people in conversation about topical issues.

Libraries will be selected to participate based upon the completeness of an online application, their capacity to promote the program, and the availability of funding. FRANK Talks are FREE for approved library applicants. A partnership between Arizona Humanities and the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records pays for honorarium and travel for speakers and moderators.

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

  • October 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017
  • April 1, 2017 – September 30, 2017

What is the process to schedule a FRANK Talk?

At this time, FRANK Talks are only available for Arizona libraries. 

  1. Review the FRANK Talks scholar and topic below that your organization is interested in hosting.
  2. Contact the scholar to schedule their participation and confirm date and time. Scholar contact information is available below under the FRANK Talks topic.
  3. Go to the Arizona Humanities online Grants and Programs Dashboard and complete the online application form. You should contact the speaker 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.

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.

FRANK Talks Topics

October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018

Libraries can book unlimited FRANK Talks programs.

Building Civic Engagement in a Politically Charged World

Mónica Pérez, Principal and Owner, Ocotillo Group Consulting

How do you impact change in your neighborhood? How do you connect with people in your community, when people have such different opinions of current events and social issues? Explore the most effective ways to engage with elected leaders at any level. Discuss ways to become a more active participant in your community by mastering the tools of civic engagement. Join us for a FRANK talk on the basics of civic engagement and community activism. Contact: monica@OcotilloGroup.com / 520-234-1560


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. Contactjennifer.richter@asu.edu / 480-727-9308 Note: This program is unavailable starting March 1, 2018.


“Fake News”: The Impact of Fake News in the Real World

Jamie Bowen, Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Although not new, our awareness and use of the term “fake news” has risen in prominence. In general “fake news” is journalism that consists of deliberate misinformation, news whose main purpose is to distort “the truth for emotional persuasion, seeking to drive action.”  More recently it has become a catch-all term used to discredit stories, and in the political arena to influence the political process and elections in the U.S and abroad.  What is the impact of “fake news”?  How does “fake news” affect community conversations and civic engagement? How do we balance the benefits of free speech against the burden of propaganda? Join us for a lively FRANK Talk about “fake news,” free speech and journalism today. Contactjamiebowen26@gmail.com / 801-707-0528


Immigrants and the American Dream: We the People Today and Tomorrow

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

The United States of America has long touted itself as the land of immigrants, and is demographically more diverse than at any time in our nation’s history. Yet the source and substance of immigration have been topics of continuous debate. How do domestic conditions, regional competition, geopolitics, and foreign policy affect immigration today? Who can become an American citizen and who cannot? How does a nation founded by immigrants, direct access to the U.S. for immigrants today?  How do immigrants impact America’s social and economic vitality?   Join us for a Frank Talk to ponder the question, what does it mean to be an American. Contact: tjdavis@asu.edu /480-812-0823


Is This Racist? Racial Literacy and Social Media

Dr. Kathy Nakagawa, Arizona State University, School of Social Transformation

Many parents and educators avoid conversations about race and racism with their children and students, yet young people are regularly exposed to images, stories, videos and statements that reflect racial societal attitudes. This exposure often comes through social media, such as YouTube videos, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram, Snapchat, and blogs. Despite this exposure, many young people are unprepared to discuss race and racism in productive ways. Parents and educators are unsure how to guide these discussions. So how do we develop a “racial literacy” to have these conversations? Like learning to read and write, racial literacy equips us to talk about race and can help us understand the historical and systemic contexts of race and racism in America. Join us for a FRANK Talk about race, racism, racial literacy and social media in today’s world. Contact: nakagawa@asu.edu / 480-965-0582


Local Democracy and Politics in Education: Does it help or hinder student achievement?

Dr. Carrie Sampson, Arizona State University, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

In 2008, The Atlantic published an article entitled “First, Kill All the School Boards: A modest proposal to fix the schools.” The article examined the failure of school boards to lead school districts in creating systems that foster student success. Do school board members possess the necessary experience to provide effective school district leadership? As elected or appointed officials, can school boards effectively represent the interests of local communities? Join us for a FRANK talk exploring the role of democracy in education and civic engagement. How do school boards and citizen initiatives help or hinder student achievement? What role should community members play in education? In what ways do politics impact student opportunities to succeed? Contact:  csampso4@asu.edu / 315-480-8661


Mothering & Conversations on Reproductive Health

Dr. Kathy Nakagawa, Arizona State University, School of Social Transformation

Our roles as parents encompass caring for our children through all aspects of development, but we often falter when it comes to talking about sex and sexuality. For our daughters, in particular, having healthy attitudes about sex can promote equitable relationships, foster more positive body images, and nurture thoughtful choices regarding intimacy.  Cultural and social values in our country can directly impact conversations about sex and intimacy. What happens when parents and children can’t talk about sex and sexuality? Who has access to reliable and accurate information about sex, sexuality and reproduction, and who does not? How can parents have better conversations with their children about sexuality? Join us for a FRANK Talk about mothering, sexuality and reproductive health.  Contact: nakagawa@asu.edu / 480-965-0582


School Choice in Arizona

Dr. Angelina Castagno, Northern Arizona University, Educational Foundations

Arizona is one of the nation’s most “choice friendly” states regarding educational opportunities at the K-12 level. School choice is a term for K–12 public education options in the U.S. describing a wide array of programs offering students and their families alternatives to public schools, that students are usually assigned to based on where their family lives. The legislature approved Arizona’s charter school law in 1994 and currently Arizona has over 540 charter schools with more than 180,000 students. Since then the expansion of charter schools and vouchers (often called educational savings accounts) is not without controversy. Does school choice improve school quality? Does school choice increase educational opportunity for all students? Has school choice fostered the privatization of education in the U.S.? Join us for a FRANK talk about the policy and practical implications of school choice.  Contact: angelina.castagno@nau.edu / 801-856-9509


Securing the Borders and Stopping Terrorism: A Constitutional Framework

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

Protecting its people is among the first priorities of any government. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights provides both for protection of the people, but also protects against undue intrusion by the government. How should the U.S. Constitution’s system of checks and balances operate in securing U.S. borders and stopping terrorism? Who poses a danger to U.S. security and safety, and what do we do about it?  What public policies can be implemented to fulfill the government’s competing duties to protect people, and simultaneously respect civil liberties?  Join us for a Frank Talk examining national security and civil liberties at the border. Contact: tjdavis@asu.edu /480-812-0823


Weaponized Narrative: Information Warfare as the New Battlespace

Dr. Braden Allenby, Arizona State University, President’s Professor of Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering, and Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics

Weaponized narrative is the latest term for information warfare, focusing specifically on the role of new media in shaping opinion. Weaponized narratives attack the shared beliefs and values of a person or society, and undercut culture and resiliency.  Instead of using actual bombs and bullets, adversaries use tactics such as deceptive information initiatives to attack identity, manipulate narratives/stories, and manufacture emotional and psychological warfare.  What are the effects on our psychology and behavior?  How do we begin to understand the role of information warfare in social media, news, and marketing? Can weaponized narratives cause social polarization as destructive as actual war?  Join us for this timely FRANK Talk to discuss the impact of information warfare on civic engagement and our democratic institutions.  Contactbrad.allenby@asu.edu / 480-727-8594


What is racial disproportionality in schools and why does it matter?

Dr. Angelina Castagno, Northern Arizona University, Educational Foundations

Parents and educators may work together to ensure that students receive an education and can access the tools that they need to succeed. Education laws aim to ensure fairness in the identification, access, placement and discipline of students. Despite these protective efforts and laws, students are not always treated equally.  “Racial disproportionality” refers to practices which reflect the differential treatment of students in regards to disciplinary practices, special education, and access to AP and Honors courses and more. How and why does racial disproportionality occur? What is the impact upon students?  How can parents and educators ensure that all students have access to an education? This FRANK Talk will explore various examples of racial disproportionality in schools in an effort to better understand what race-based patterns in schools look like and why they matter for our children. Contact: angelina.castagno@nau.edu / 801-856-9509

Additional Reading/Handouts for Topics

FRANK Talks encourages further exploration and research of certain topics. From time to time, we will post materials shared during FRANK Talks programs and after by scholars and facilitators.

Shared by Dr. Braden Allenby, Arizona State University, President’s Professor of Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering, and Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics

Shared by Jamie Bowen, Arizona State University, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

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

Shared by Dr. Angelina Castagno, Northern Arizona University

Shared by Dr. Kathy Nakagawa, Arizona State University, School of Social Transformation

  • Kids: 20 empowering children’s books that celebrate diversity and social justice
  • Adults: Howard Stevenson’s Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools: Differences That Make a Difference is a very good way to discuss how to address the topic in relation to school practices and policies. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s book Racism without Racists: Color-blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States provides an accessible way of understanding how racism permeates our everyday conversations and ways of thinking.
For questions, contact:

Ellie Hutchison, Programs Manager

602-257-0335 x26 or ehutchison@azhumanities.org.

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