Five Washington State University faculty will be speaking around the state about their research in a new partnership of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service and Humanities Washington, a nonprofit that aims to foster thoughtful conversation and critical thinking.

For the next two years, WSU’s “Foley Fellows” will be among more than 30 speakers that provide free public presentations on science, politics, music, philosophy, spiritual traditions and more in dozens of communities throughout Washington.

The collaboration is the brainchild of Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute and himself a former member of the Humanities Washington speakers bureau.

“It just fits so nicely with the Foley Institute mission,” Clayton said. In addition to engaging students in public service, the institute educates students and the public on public affairs and supports academic research on public policy and democratic institutions.

Foley Fellows will be branded separately from the other speakers and the institute will pay two‑thirds of their $300‑per‑appearance stipends. Travel expenses are picked up by hosting institutions, which include libraries, colleges, museums and cultural centers.

The Foley Fellows and their topics are:

  • Psychopharmacologist Rebecca Craft

    Marijuana: Evil Weed or Medical Miracle?

    Craft, a professor of psychology at WSU Pullman, will discuss the history of marijuana use and policy in the United States, including the shifts in public perception about the drug, and discuss the latest research about “the potential for marijuana to heal or harm.”

  • Historian Matthew Sutton

    The Chosen Voters: Evangelicals in Modern America

    Sutton, an Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor at WSU Pullman, and an expert on the history of the religious right, will explain how evangelical Christians came to be the strongest religious voting block in America and what that means for our political system.

  • Political scientist Travis Ridout

    Hacking Democracy: What Social Media is Doing to U.S. Politics

    Ridout, the Thomas S. Foley Distinguished Professor of Government and Public Policy at WSU Pullman, will explore the growing political role of social media, much of which did not exist only a decade ago.

  • Political scientist Steven Stehr

    Is Truth Really Dead in America?

    Stehr, director of WSU’s School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, will discuss how we can be better informed in a world in which truth is being eroded by conspiracy theories, “alternative facts” and “fake news.”

  • Political scientist Carolyn Long

    Be the Change: Strengthening Democracy through Civil Discussion

    Long, an associate professor of political science at WSU Vancouver, will discuss bridging the nation’s political polarization “by bringing together truly diverse groups of committed citizens to discuss issues and challenges, identifying the values we share rather than the positions that divide us.”

You can learn more about the partnership at the Foley Institute website.