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Election Year Speaker Series

Whitworth University's Election Year Speaker Series is designed to help the campus and local community engage in critical thinking and civil discourse in anticipation of the 2024 elections. We welcome speakers and scholars who represent a broad range of perspectives and ideas, certain that we are sharpened when we engage with the broadest spectrum of thought.

Please note the views presented in the Election Year Speaker Series are solely those of the speakers and do not represent official views held by Whitworth University.

Liz Cheney | Defending Democracy: A Conversation with Liz Cheney

Oct. 9, 7:30-9 a.m., Spokane Convention Center (breakfast is included)

Former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney will cover leadership, diplomacy and the future of politics in America. Cheney served as the U.S. representative for Wyoming from 2017-23, chairing the House Republican Conference from 2019-21. Her newly released memoir, Oath and Honor, advocates for democracy. Register at

David French | Politics, Christianity & Moral Formation: Finding a Path to Restoration

Oct. 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m., virtual/online*

How can America, a country with deep moral, cultural and religious differences, navigate this time of polarization and chart a course toward restoration? David French – author, opinion columnist and former U.S. Army and constitutional law attorney – will join Whitworth President Scott McQuilkin in a conversation addressing this question. Together, they will explore some of the various elements it takes to engage with people who have opposing viewpoints and to live and work side by side, preserving and strengthening our country. French’s most recent book, Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation, was published in 2020.

*Online registration will be available soon and will include an option to submit questions to French.

Anne Snyder | Social Architecture: Creating a Scaffold of Social Life for the Common Good

Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m., Bing Crosby Theater
Presented in partnership with Northwest Passages Book Club and Community Forum. 

Anne Snyder is the editor-in-chief of Comment magazine, which looks at contributors to "social architecture," the institutions "that serve as the scaffolding and skeleton of social life – our families and financial systems, politics and education, museums and labor unions, and more." Her book, The Fabric of Character: A Wise Giver's Guide to Renewing our Social and Moral Landscape, was published in 2019. Snyder also hosts The Whole Person Revolution podcast. Tickets will be available to purchase through the Northwest Passages Book Club.

Alexandra Hudson | The Soul of Civility: Toward Meaningful Engagement & Change

Oct. 30, 6:30 p.m., virtual/online*

Are you interested in finding ways to talk about important topics with others, even in a time of polarization? You’re not alone. We face this challenge today and have faced it throughout human history. Fortunately, history also offers us a solution. Erica Salkin, Whitworth professor and interim dean of the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, will interview author Alexandra Hudson about civil discourse – both what it is and what it is not (spoiler alert: it’s different from being polite). Hudson will share examples you can apply to help yourself, your family, your community and our country thrive. Hudson’s recent book, The Soul of Civility: Timeless Principles to Heal Society and Ourselves, was published in 2023.

*Online registration will be available soon and will include an option to submit questions to Hudson.

Whitworth Faculty Presentations

Dates and times will be announced by early September.

Patricia Bruininks & Megan Hershey | Hope & Democracy Discussion

Whitworth Professor of Psychology Patricia Bruininks and Professor of Political Science Megan Hershey will present their recent research on the intersection of hope and democracy, considering what factors influence one's hope for a democratic future and how this hope might shape political engagement. Q&A to follow.

Bert Emerson | Cultivating Our Democracy Through Action on the Local Level: A Panel Discussion

This panel discussion will gather local leaders to reflect on different ways that the work of democracy begins in our local communities. Moderated by Whitworth Honors Program Director and Associate Professor of English Bert Emerson, this conversation will address a variety of pathways to civic engagement, whether through community organization and partnerships, philanthropic efforts, educational enterprises or political activism.

Aaron Hitefield | Exploring the 2024 Presidential Election

Whitworth Assistant Professor of Political Science Aaron Hitefield will provide an overview of the upcoming presidential and congressional elections, highlighting what to look out for and what we might expect in the 2024 elections.