South Dakota Humanities Council Seeking Speakers, Discussion Leaders

SDHC Scholar Jean Patrick presents to a group of children. Patrick, of Mitchell, is a longtime member of the SDHC Speakers Bureau. 

Applications Accepted Until Dec. 1, 2017

The South Dakota Humanities Council seeks qualified speakers and reading discussion group leaders to deliver humanities programming to South Dakotans in 2018.

As part of the SDHC's "One Stop Programs," scholars are paid to lead reading discussions and speak to groups about topics pertinent to their area of expertise.

Successful applicants will be listed in the printed 2018 SDHC Program Catalog and on the SDHC website.

Purpose of One Stop Programs

The South Dakota Humanities Council was founded in 1972 to celebrate literature, promote civil conversation and tell the stories that define our state. We accomplish this mission by supporting and promoting public programming in the humanities, including grant-funded programs, our annual South Dakota Festival of Books and One Stop Programs.

One Stop Programs are a valuable extension of the South Dakota Humanities Council. Our uniquely qualified and highly-educated experts use their diverse knowledge and expertise to deliver specialized programs to all South Dakotans, including rural populations with limited cultural programming.

These scholar presentations promote thoughtful conversation, broaden learning opportunities and build community.

Browse the 2017 lineup to find examples of the type of speakers typically featured on our roster, which includes museum managers, distinguished professors and Chautauqua performers. Chautauqua presenters bring history to life with their costumed impressions of historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt, outlaw Tom O'Day (who rode with Butch Cassidy) and much more.

In 2018, our scholars will explore the initiative "Democracy and the Informed Citizen," commemorate the anniversary of women's suffrage in South Dakota, and lead book discussions throughout the state.

"Abraham Lincoln" poses with former SDHC board member Fee Jacobsen. SDHC Chautauqua performers travel the state as part of the SDHC Speakers' Bureau program.


Scholars must be trained in one of the humanities disciplines, possess an M.A. or Ph.D., or have a career and personal history that show commitment to the humanities (tribal elders, experienced Chautauqua performers and more). Our Speakers Bureau is all-inclusive, and we encourage topics that promote diversity, such as traditional Lakota spirituality.

Download the details for 2018 scholar applicants for reference.

SDHC uses the following humanities definition as a basis for deciding whether applicants' proposed programs apply to the humanities.

"The term 'humanities' includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life."

- From --National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965, as amended

Applicants are not required to be South Dakota residents. However, supported programs must take place in South Dakota.


Scholars are paid a $150 stipend, or $200 if travel is over 240 miles round trip (within South Dakota) or if they make more than one presentation in a day. Wage is $75 for subsequent performances on a second day.
SDHC pays state rate for mileage (42 cents per mile) and lodging -- $55 plus tax a day from check-in on Sept. 1 through check-out on June 1; $70 plus tax a day from check-in on June 1 through check-out on Sept. 1 -- when necessary. SDHC no longer pays for meal costs.

Scholar Hosts

Organizations apply to host a scholar through the South Dakota Humanities Council. Typical applicants include libraries, museums, historic sites, historical societies, parks, tribal entities, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, as well as community centers and agencies that are open to the public. Programs must take place within the state.

A book club poses with 2017 One Book South Dakota author J. Ryan Stradal. SDHC is accepting applicants to lead reading group discussions and scholarly programs in 2017.

A book club poses with 2017 One Book South Dakota author J. Ryan Stradal. SDHC is accepting applicants to lead reading group discussions and scholarly programs in 2017.

Scholar Categories

Interested scholars can apply to be reading group discussion leaders, Speakers Bureau presenters, or both.

Speakers Bureau scholars present programs on a variety of humanities topics which are suitable for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Chautauqua speakers make history come alive by replicating characters such as first South Dakota governor Arthur Calvin Mellette, President Theodore Roosevelt, the daughter of Sitting Bull and many others.

Our speakers also present traditional programs that cross humanities disciplines. They explore topics such as traditional Lakota spirituality and the role of ceremony in today's ever-changing world; the high-profile criminal trials presided over by Peter C. Shannon, Chief Justice of the Dakota Territory Supreme; the history of stained glass in South Dakota and more.

Reading discussion scholars can lead groups through conversations about the One Book South Dakota or any number of titles from the SDHC lending library with our Book Club to Go.

Approved applicants will be listed in the printed 2018 SDHC Program Catalog and on the SDHC website. Our committee will review applications in early January, and we will distribute the catalog in February 2018.

To receive email correspondence about the 2018 application process, email program officer Kyle Schaefer at or call the SDHC office at (605) 688-6113.

Scholars accepted into the Speakers Bureau will list one program description in the printed catalog, and up to five programs total on the website. For more on the South Dakota Humanities Council and its programs, visit

Apply Now!

Interested in applying to be a 2018 scholar? Click the link below to apply now!