Apply to be a Road Scholar

Thank you for your interest in joining our Road Scholars roster of speakers. You play an essential role in providing opportunities to learn, connect, and deepen relationships in communities throughout Illinois.

What you need to know to become a Road Scholar


We seek speakers who demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Expertise and passion in the subject matter on which they wish to offer presentations;
  • Public speaking or teaching experience;
  • An engaging presence and the ability to facilitate discussion among audiences of diverse cultural and economic backgrounds;
  • A talent for finding interesting perspectives on subjects both obscure and familiar;
  • Interest in visiting communities throughout Illinois and interacting with a wide range of people.

Illinois Humanities Road Scholar Speakers are asked to do the following:

  • Give up to five presentations during each program year (at times mutually arranged with host organizations);
  • Attend a half-day speaker orientation;
  • Encourage dialogue and conversation among their program audiences;
  • Provide their own mode of transportation (travel costs are reimbursed by Illinois Humanities);
  • Reach out to potential host organizations whenever possible to generate interest in their presentation.

Speakers who are selected to join our Road Scholar Speakers roster will receive an honorarium of $300 or $500 per presentation, depending on the distance traveled. In addition, Illinois Humanities will reimburse the speaker for meals and lodging expenses.

Presentations Topics

Illinois Humanities seeks speakers representing a wide range of disciplines and professional activities, including history, literature, art, music, philosophy, government, and the natural and social sciences insofar as they relate to the humanities. While an academic background in your proposed topic is not a requirement, we do seek presentations that reflect thorough research and thoughtful interpretation. We do not consider instructional workshops or how-to programs (e.g., “Learn How to Speak in Public”).

In general, we’re looking for topics that pique our curiosity, surprise our intellects, and offer the potential to fuel inquiry and conversation about ideas and works that shape our culture.

We also welcome a variety of presentation styles and formats, particularly those that engage audiences actively.  We’re happy to consider lectures with question-and-answer sessions, but if you’d rather facilitate a discussion on a novel or lead the audience in a chorus of a Civil War song, we’d love to hear about what you have in mind.

Auditions or Video Samples

During each application process, applicants are asked to share a link to an audition video. These videos will be confidential and only viewed internally while reviewing applications.


The 2023-2024 Speakers application is now closed. We will begin accepting applications for the next two-year roster soon. If you have questions, please contact us at

Complete this interest form to be notified when the application opens again.

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Contact Us

Fairouz AbuGhazaleh
Director of Statewide Programs
(312) 374-1553