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Hannah Atkins Memorial Lecture Series Archive

The Hannah Atkins Speaker Series was created in honor of Hannah Atkins, the first African-American woman state legislator in Oklahoma. Atkins had a profoundly influential career in public service, and would go on to simultaneously serve as Oklahoma's Secretary of State and Secretary of Social Services, making her the highest-ranking woman in the Oklahoma state government. Throughout her political career, she advocated for improvements in health care (including mental health), education, women's rights, and civil rights.


In September 2016, Dr. Farida Jalalzai - at the time the holder of the Hannah Atkins Endowed Chair in Political Science - instituted the Hannah Atkins Memorial Lecture to pay tribute to Atkin's legacy as a political trailblazer. This speaker series brought researcher to the OSU campus who seek to improve our understanding of the political empowerment of traditionally disadvantaged peoples and minority groups, each talk highlighted the important role these individuals can play in building a healthy democratic society.

Hannah Atkins Lecturer Dispels Myths About Voter Fraud in the US

On March 4. 2020, Dr. David C. Kimball, Professor of Political Science University of Missouri in St. Louis, presented on “Public Images and Beliefs about Voter Fraud.” He began his talk by highlighting how rare voter fraud really is in the United States, further pointing out that there is no evidence that voter fraud nor voter suppression efforts have changed an election result in any recent local, state, or national elections in the US. Dr. Kimball then moved on to explain his current research on people's belief about voter fraud in the US. Based on an original survey he conducted, his research highlights how public opinion is influenced by political rhetoric that links voter fraud with fear of immigrants and people of color.


This talk was recorded as a Facebook Live event, and is publicly available for viewing on our department Facebook page.


In addition to his guest lecture, Dr. Kimball also visited Dean Glen Krutz’s class on “Lobbying: the Art of Influence and Manipulation.”


Dr. Kimball is a Professor and Graduate Director of Political Science at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. He specializes in American government, election administration, political parties, public opinion, voting behavior and interest groups. He has co-authored three books on these topics: Helping America Vote, Lobbying and Policy Change, and Why Americans Split Their Tickets. He is also the co-editor of Controversies in Voting Behavior. In addition to his research and teaching, Dr. Kimball has also participated as an expert in several court cases on election administration, voting rights, and redistricting.

"The Children of Harvey Milk" is the Topic of the 2019 Hannah Atkins Memorial Lecture

In 2019, our Hannah Atkins Lecture Series kicked off on October 10 with our Fourth Annual Memorial Lecture. We had the great pleasure of hosting Dr. Andrew Reynolds, who spoke on the topic related to his recent book, The Children of Harvey Milk: How LGBTQ Politicians Changed the World. His book documents the equal rights struggle of LGBTQ politicians from around the world. By highlighting their successes and failures,  Reynolds demonstrated how individuals can change the views and voting behaviors of those around them.


While this event coincided with OSU Homecoming Week, it was well attended.

Dr. Andrew Reynolds is a Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). His research and teaching focus on democratization, constitutional design and electoral politics, and he is particularly interested in the presence and impact of minorities and marginalized communities. He has also served as a consultant, advising countries—including, but not limited to, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, the Netherlands, South Africa and Tunisia—on issues of electoral and constitutional design. He has worked with the the United Nations, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the UK Department for International Development, the US State Department, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Foundation for Election Systems, and has received research awards from the U.S. Institute of Peace, the National Science Foundation, the US Agency for International Development, and the Ford Foundation.

For those who missed the talk, you can currently watch it on our Facebook page. We will update with a link to the OState TV version as soon as it becomes available.

For those interested, here is the Amazon summary for The Children of Harvey Milk: How LGBTQ Politicians Changed the World:

  • Part political thriller, part meditation on social change, part love story, The Children of Harvey Milk tells the epic stories of courageous men and women around the world who came forward to make their voices heard during the struggle for equal rights.
  • Featuring LGBTQ icons from America to Ireland, Britain to New Zealand; Reynolds documents their successes and failures, heartwarming stories of acceptance and heartbreaking stories of ostracism, demonstrating the ways in which an individual can change the views and voting behaviors of those around them. The book also includes rare vignettes of LGBTQ leaders in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean who continue to fight for equality in spite of threats, violence, and homophobia.
  • A touchstone narrative of the tumultuous journey towards LGBTQ rights, The Children of Harvey Milk is a must-read for anyone with an interest in social change.

From women's representation to immigration, the 2018-2019 Hannah Atkins Series tackles major questions about diversity

During the 2018-2019 academic year, we continued to honor Hannah Atkin’s legacy as a political trailblazer by featuring leading scholars who spoke on issues related to women and minority empowerment. The fall semester kicked off with our our Third Annual Hannah Atkins Memorial Lecture on September 25.


Dr. Magda Hinojosa, Associate Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University, presented her latest research, entitled “Women’s Inclusion in Politics: The Dynamics of Representation and Democratic Engagement.” A specialist in women's representation, Dr. Hinojosa's research examines how increasing women's inclusion in politics can build trust in political institutions and increase political interest.


The spring semester was especially busy. After hosting a networking panel about the N.E.W. Leadership program in February, the Hannah Atkins lecture series continued on March 28 with Dr. Jennifer Piscopo, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Dr. Piscopo spoke on “Falling Behind: Why Other Countries Elect More Women than the United States.” Drawing from considerable cross national research, Dr. Piscopo discusses how gender quotas and other electoral rules help explain why women make up less than a quarter of the U.S. Congress, but are nearly 50% or above in countries like Bolivia, Mexico, Sweden and Rwanda.


Our series concluded on April 30 with a presentation by Dr. Adriano Udani, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Dr. Udani presented “The Kids are Not Alright: American Backlash to Harmful Effects of Migrant Child Detention.” Using a nationally representative survey of U.S. voters in the 2018 elections and a series of experiments, Dr. Udani examines the tendency of people’s policy views to rely on misinformation and identify strategies to correct misinformed values.  Focusing on the issue of immigration—especially the issue of child detainment that has been in the news recently—Dr. Udani demonstrates how lessons we learn as children shape our current beliefs about how migrant children should be treated in the United States.


All Hannah Atkins events highlight the democratic consequences related to the incorporation (or lack thereof) of minorities and women in the public sphere. Our speakers did not limit their engagement to their public lectures but also directly connected to our students in classes and at social events. These interactions showcased our department’s commitment to discussing important political issues of the day, mentorship, connecting students to cutting-edge research and created a welcoming environment to explore diversity.

2018 Hannah Atkins guest lecturer asks what is "The Cost of Doing Politics?"

In spring 2018, the Hannah Atkins Endowment and the Department of Political Science was excited to bring Dr. Mona Lena Krook, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Women and Politics Ph.D. Program at Rutgers University, to the OSU campus. Dr. Krook gave a guest lecture on her research titled "The Cost of Doing Politics? Violence and Harassment against Female Politicians." This event was held on Wednesday, April 18th, in Murray Hall 035 on the OSU campus.


During this talk, Dr. Krook highlighted how women have made significant inroads into political life around the globe in recent decades, doubling their presence in elected positions. However, increasing women's political empowerment has also sparked backlash and resistance, with a growing number of sources—including elected women, journalists, judges, academics, activists and practitioners—reporting a rising trend of attacks, intimidation and harassment directed at female politicians. This talk mapped emerging definitions of this phenomenon and presented examples and statistics regarding its prevalence and impact. Dr. Krook concluded that violence against women in politics should not be dismissed as simply 'the cost of doing politics," but instead recognized as a serious threat to democracy, human rights and gender equality around the world.


Dr. Krook has published widely on electoral gender quotas and women’s political representation in global perspective. Her first book, Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Worldwide (Oxford University Press, 2009), received the American Political Science Association’s Victoria Schuck Award for the Best Book on Women and Politics. Her work focuses on violence and harassment against politically active women and has included collaboration with the National Democratic Institute since 2015 on its #NotTheCost campaign. She was awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship to research and write an academic book on violence and harassment against women in politics, featuring testimonies from women around the world. Her publications address the democratic implications of violence against women in politics (Journal of Democracy, 2017) and sexual harassment in British politics (Political Quarterly, 2018).

How N.E.W. Leadership Helped OSU Grads Navigate the World of Public Service

On February 6, the department sponsored a panel that highlighted the esteemed OSU alums who have all participated in the NEW Leadership Program, a five-day residential program that takes place each annually at the University of Oklahoma. Designed to educate and empower undergraduate women from the state of Oklahoma to participate actively in politics and public service, it connects participants to policy makers and community activists. The ultimate goal is to give women of all backgrounds and partisan affiliations the opportunity to shape the public agenda. The Hannah Atkins endowment provides funding yearly to offset costs to this nationally renowned program; students did not pay to participate.


Lauren Schueler, the Director of N.E.W. Leadership, moderated the panel which consisted of OSU alumni Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk, HD 35 Candidate in 2018; Sara Jane Smallwood-Cocke, Government Relations, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; and Brondalyn Coleman, Child Welfare Liaison, Sunbeam Family Services. Panelists repeatedly noted the great impact their experience with NEW Leadership had on their future career paths, particularly how it connected them to an extensive array of public service leaders and allowed them to break down barriers to work toward political progress.

Click for more information on N.E.W. Leadership.

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