Stay Tuned!

The 2023-2024 speaker roster for Road Scholars will be announced in December 2022*

2023-2024 Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speaker Bureau Banner

Photo credit: Image of Catalina Maria Johnson in the 2023 – 2024 Road Scholar Banner is courtesy of Carolina Sánchez

*no longer accepting applications to become a speaker

Program overview

OVERVIEW: Since 1997, our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau has invited Illinois writers, storytellers, historians, folklorists, musicians, and living history actors, among others, to share their expertise and enthusiasm with people throughout our state. It also supports local nonprofit organizations – including libraries, museums, arts councils, historical societies, civic groups, and many others – in presenting free-admission cultural programs of high quality to their communities for a modest application fee, which can be waived if your organization is experiencing financial hardship.

Our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau roster features speakers hailing from many different communities across Illinois who offer presentations on topics in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, theater, film, music, politics, and other subjects that are thought-provoking and engaging. The breadth of these offerings reflects our conviction that the humanities can help us to examine the world in all its varied shades and discover in it the remarkable, the strange, the fantastic, the tragic, the humorous, and the beautiful.

Whether you’re an organization interested in hosting a Road Scholars presentation or a potential speaker, we invite you to let your curiosity wander and learn more about the Road Scholars Speakers Bureau.


Currently, and this may change, Illinois Humanities is offering a mix of in-person and virtual programming. Road Scholars are under no obligation to present in person.

Illinois Humanities is asking all host organizations to follow their local, state, and CDC recommendations for any in-person gatherings and to notify Illinois Humanities of what COVID-19 precautions they are taking for in-person events, which we will also post on our events calendar. If a Road Scholar is no longer available to present in-person as a result of the dynamic and changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, host organizations can either host a virtual event, postpone the presentation until a later date, or cancel the presentation. All of our Road Scholars speakers are currently offering virtual programs during this time as well.

Also, if your organization is experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will waive the $75 application fee – making this program entirely free to your organization and members of your community.

Finally, if you need help with the logistics of hosting a virtual program, Illinois Humanities can provide some support. Please contact Jenn Yoo at

How to Host a Road Scholars Speakers Bureau Event

The 2021 – 2022  roster is no longer available for booking through this program. However, you may book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information provided.

Please read each of the following entries carefully to ensure that your organization completes the process successfully from beginning to end.

The roster of Road Scholars for 2021 and 2022 can be found here. 

If you have questions or would like assistance at any point in the process, please contact Jenn Yoo at

Frequently Asked Questions