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Aug. 25, 2020

Humanities and Social Sciences announces new lecture series

By Edidiong Idong-Bassey, communication assistant

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(updated Sept. 9, 2020)

The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Northwest Missouri State University is launching “Occupy Valk,” a teach-in series this fall that will explore topics of race in America.

During each week of the series, a different Northwest history faculty member will speak about a political or social justice issue and its historical context, with questions and discussion afterward.

“We are in an election year. A lot of what’s going on in our cultural and social climate have roots in the U.S.’s founding, and some of those roots go back even further,” Dr. Dawn L. Gilley, an associate professor of humanities and the chair of the department, said. “We want to provide historical context for all of this so we can have our students and audience be informed voters and active citizens.”

The idea for the series originates from the 1960s when faculty at colleges and universities organized teach-ins where professors spoke about political or social justice issues. The first teach-in occurred at the University of Michigan in 1965 when faculty members and students gathered to hear speakers, have discussions and peacefully protest the Vietnam War. Since 1965, teach-ins have been used to connect social justice issues with academics, and they are part of the tradition of peaceful protest and activism.

The “Occupy Valk” series begins Thursday, Aug. 27, with Gilley presenting “Is ‘Western Civilization’ a White Supremacist Notion?” Sessions are 7 p.m. every other Thursday in Room 118 of Valk Center; the series also will be livestreamed on the Humanities and Social Sciences at Northwest Facebook page. 

Gilley said the department hopes to continue the series after the fall semester. The complete fall schedule is provided below. 


  • Thursday, Aug. 27 — Dr. Dawn Gilley: “Is ‘Western Civilization’ a White Supremacist Notion?”
  • Thursday, Sept. 17 – Matt Johnson: “Fight for Your Right to VOTE”
  • Thursday, Sept. 24 – Dr. Elyssa Ford: “Show Me the Money (or not): The New Slave System of College Sports”
  • Thursday, Oct. 8 – Dr. Rob Voss: “Was Columbus a Racist and a Sex Trafficker?”
  • Thursday, Oct. 22 – Dana Ternus: “Just DON'T do it: Blackface and Cultural Appropriation”
  • Thursday, Nov. 5 – Dr. Devlin Scofield: “The Immigrant Threat? The Promise and Challenge of Contemporary Migration”
  • Thursday, Nov. 19 – Dr. Sarah Naramore: “Race and the ‘Essential Worker’ in American Health Crises”

Media contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704