About Vermont Humanities

Vermont Humanities Promotes Citizen Engagement through Civics Collaborative

Montpelier, VT—Vermont Humanities announced today its participation in a nationwide initiative about civics and electoral participation that will bring digital civics events to Vermont over a four-month period. The first event will be a free Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Remembrance lecture hosted by the Burlington Multicultural Resource Center on Sunday, January 17 at 3pm. The lecture will feature Tim Wise, a prominent anti-racist writer and educator.

The “Why it Matters: Civics and Electoral Participation” initiative is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Federation for State Humanities Councils. As part of the initiative, Vermont Humanities has formed the Vermont Civics Collaborative with eight other Vermont organizations to gather thinkers, educators, and civic organizers to discuss relevant and important issues that affect Vermont communities and our nation.

Dr. Patrick Brown, the director of the Burlington Multicultural Resource Center, is looking forward to the partnership through the initiative. “As People of Color in Vermont, we must learn to appreciate our roots and culture, if we cannot appreciate our roots, we will lose our history and sense of belonging. Civics helps us to realize our duties and responsibilities as citizens. The Civics collaborative helps to especially reinforce this notion,” Brown said.

A series of online discussions hosted by Meg Mott, former professor of constitutional law and political theory at Marlboro College, will begin on Tuesday, January 26 at 7:00 pm. Mott will delve into the importance of debate, dialogue, and being an informed citizen in a democratic society.

“I am delighted to participate in a program that stresses the importance of the humanities in our public life,” said Mott. “For too long citizenship has been understood in the most minimal terms possible. You pay your taxes, you vote (or not) and you expect your children should receive a good enough education that they will earn enough to pay their taxes.”

Mott’s three-part series will begin by focusing on the electoral college, a constitutional requirement that has evoked strong feelings over the last several presidential election cycles. Her second talk, on February 2, will examine what might be lost if Vermont towns forgo Town Meeting in favor of voting by Australian ballot. And her third talk on February 9 will consider the advantages and disadvantages of highlighting group identity in electoral politics.

In addition to digital events, the Collaborative will also support the Vermont Council on Rural Development’s work on the Vermont Proposition, an initiative to develop a collaborative set of transformational goals for Vermont’s economy, environment, and communities.

Promoting active discourse is a crucial part of Vermont Humanities’ mission.

“Vermont Humanities is honored to be working with this diverse group of partners from around the state and as part of the national cohort of 43 state and territorial humanities councils on this important project,” said Vermont Humanities executive director Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup. “The events of the last year, and indeed the last week, have demonstrated that we desperately need civic engagement skills in order to bring our communities together,” he added.

Learn more about the free public events sponsored by the Vermont Civics Collaborative at www.vermonthumanities.org/civics. The discussions with Meg Mott require advance registration.

About Vermont Humanities

A statewide nonprofit organization founded in 1974, Vermont Humanities seeks to engage all Vermonters in the world of ideas, foster a culture of thoughtfulness, and inspire a lifelong love of reading and learning. Learn more at www.vermonthumanities.org