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Dole Institute to host filmmakers, scholars, and leaders this spring

LAWRENCE – The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas has announced its virtual programming lineup for the Spring 2021 semester. With the inauguration of a new President, the focus of the early schedule will be on the presidency. Spring will also feature a new exhibit Voices from the Big First, 1961-1968 and a series of afternoon programs on related topics.

“While our nation continues to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, the Dole Institute will be bringing an impressive slate of guests directly to our audience’s homes,” said Director Bill Lacy. “We will kick off the semester with an eye toward the new administration of President Biden and what we might expect to see in his first 100 days. We will also welcome back to the institute our friend Richard Norton Smith for the 2021 Presidential Lecture Series. We cannot wait to share with our audience this impressive slate of programs for the spring.”

Programming will launch in February with the documentary filmmaker and author who assisted President-elect Joe Biden with several autobiographical books, Mark Zwonitzer. Having worked on Richard Ben Cramer’s now celebrated book chronicling the 1988 presidential election, What It Takes: The Way to the White House, and then working closely with Biden in additional volumes including his latest Promises to Keep, Zwonitzer will provide a unique and deeply informed understanding of the 46th President of the United States, and what we might expect from his administration. 

Richard Norton Smith will return to the institute for this year’s Presidential Lecture Series, with four programs that seek to answer the question “Where do we go from here?”. He will begin by examining “The Reagan Playbook,” and two other remarkably successful Republicans: Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt. Then, he will shift perspective to FDR, Clinton, Obama and what Biden can learn from his Democratic predecessors. Smith will then place the last four years in the context of presidential history, focusing on what has changed and what Americans can expect to go back to normal. Finally, he will draw on his encyclopedic knowledge of our nation’s leaders to provide a checklist for a successful presidency, followed by an expanded Q&A session.

Moving from the Oval Office to the city manager’s office, Spring 2021 Dole Institute Fellow Patrick Tuohey will bring different facets of municipal public policy to light in discussion groups throughout the semester. As a co-founder of the Better Cities Project, he and his guests will speak to the challenges local leaders and civil servants face and the tools available to meet them. Discussion groups are made possible by the Newman’s Own Foundation. 

A new exhibit, Voices from the Big First, 1961-1968, will debut in the Elizabeth Dole Gallery and Reading Room on February 11. Featuring a selection of constituent letters written to then-Congressman Bob Dole from the collections of the Dole Archives, this original exhibit, curated by Kansas history scholar Virgil Dean, offers a window into the hopes and fears of everyday Kansans as they responded to change at home and conflict abroad. Funding for this exhibit is provided by Humanities Kansas.

Dole Institute audience members will have the opportunity to see the new documentary UnRepresented, an unflinching account of corruption in the United States’ political system, before its debut on PBS. During a follow-up event, a panel of experts will discuss the problems highlighted in the documentary and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panel.

Six years after its debut on Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton shows no signs of fading from the cultural consciousness. Historians Claire Bond Potter and Renee C. Roman, editors of the book Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America’s Past, will evaluate the historical accuracy of the musical and also why it became the phenomenon it is.

Author Robert Blaemire will share insights from his book Birch Bayh: Making a Difference, a biography of Senator Bayh. Bayh served the people of Indiana for over 25 years and sponsored landmark legislation throughout his career, including the Bayh-Dole Act. The bill, co-sponsored with Senator Bob Dole, changed the way inventions created through federal research and development could be licensed by the private sector. 

The fourth installment of the A Conversation on Race will occur in April, as will a program discussing free speech on college campuses. 

The well-attended Fort Leavenworth series will continue with monthly lectures from faculty from the Command and General Staff College. This year’s theme is “Military Theorists.”

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting political and civic participation as well as civil discourse in a bipartisan, philosophically balanced manner. It is located on KU’s West Campus and houses the Dole Archive and Special Collections. Through its robust public programming, congressional archive, and museum, the Dole Institute strives to celebrate public service and the legacies of U.S. Senators Bob Dole and Elizabeth Dole. 

More information on all programs, as well as ongoing additions to the schedule, can be found on the Dole Institute’s website, www.doleinstitute.org.

Evening Programs

46: The Biden Presidency 

Mark Zwonitzer

Wednesday, February 3 at 7 p.m.

Researcher for Richard Ben Cramer’s landmark book What It Takes: The Way to the White House and assistant for several autobiographical books for President-elect Joe Biden, Mark Zwonitzer will use his in-depth knowledge of the 46th President of the United States to provide us with insight into what can be expected from his administration.

Presidential Lecture Series – Where Do We Go from Here?

The Republicans: The Reagan Playbook, with Nods to Ike & Teddy Roosevelt 

Richard Norton Smith

Wednesday, February 10 at 7 p.m.

Presidential scholar Richard Norton Smith examines three successful Republicans, with a focus on Reagan, whose 1980 election win paved the way for a center-right nation and set the stage for the last 12-year period of one-party White House control since FDR.

FDR Revisited: Learning from FDR, Clinton & Obama 

Richard Norton Smith

Wednesday, February 17 at 7 p.m.

As his administration begins, President Biden’s likely role models will be FDR, Clinton, and Obama. What can he learn from them?

Breaking Precedent: The Last Four Years 

Richard Norton Smith

Tuesday, February 23 at 7 p.m.

The last four years featured a most unconventional presidency. What has changed? What will go back to normal? 

What I’ve Learned; Plus “Ask Richard” 

Richard Norton Smith

Tuesday, March 2 at 7 p.m.

In the final lecture of the series, Smith will present his checklist for a successful presidency. This program will feature an expanded audience Q&A session where the audience can ask him questions about the presidency.

Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America’s Past

Claire Bond Potter and Renee C. Romano 

Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m.

America has gone Hamilton crazy. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical has spawned sold-out performances, a triple platinum cast album, and a score so catchy that it is being used to teach U.S. history in classrooms across the country. But just how historically accurate is Hamilton? And how is the show itself making history? Our guests examine what the musical got right, what it got wrong, and why it matters. 

UnRepresented – Documentary Screening & Filmmaker Q&A

Tuesday, March 16 at 7 p.m.

UnRepresented is an award-winning documentary that uncovers the mechanisms that drive the cycle of corruption in Congress—giving political insiders enormous, unchecked power. The film explores how special interests bankroll political campaigns and relentlessly lobby to rig the system in their favor, all while following the letter of the law. Dole Institute audience members can take part in an exclusive viewing of the documentary before its debut on PBS. During a follow-up event, a panel of experts will discuss the problems highlighted in the documentary, and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panel.

Birch Bayh: Making a Difference

Robert Blaemire

Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m.

Author Robert Blaemire will share insights from his book Birch Bayh: Making a Difference, a biography of Senator Bayh. Bayh served the people of Indiana for over 25 years and sponsored landmark legislation throughout his career, including the Bayh-Dole Act. The bill, co-sponsored with Senator Bob Dole, changed the way inventions created through federal research and development could be licensed by the private sector. 

A Conversation on Race

TBA

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the global outrage it sparked, the Dole Institute has provided a forum for discussion about the important and uncomfortable issue of race in America. Additional installments of this series will continue the discussion of the essential topics of racial justice and equality.

Afternoon Programs

Spring 2021 Discussion Groups Series

The Modern American City: Past, Present, and Future

Patrick Tuohey

Wednesdays, February 24; March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31; April 7 at 4 p.m.

Spring 2021 Dole Institute Fellow Patrick Tuohey will bring different facets of municipal public policy to light in discussion groups throughout the semester. As a co-founder of the Better Cities Project, he and his guests will speak to the challenges local leaders and civil servants face and the tools available to meet them. 

The Dole Discussion Groups are made possible by a grant from Newman’s Own.

Exhibit Preview Event 

Congressman Dole’s Kansas

Audrey Coleman and Virgil Dean

Tuesday, February 9 at 3 p.m.

What was on Kansans’ minds in the 1960s? Join Director of Museum and Archives Audrey Coleman and Dole Archives Curatorial Fellow Virgil Dean for a conversation commemorating the debut of the Dole Institute’s latest original exhibit, Voices from the Big First, 1961-1968, based on constituent letters Bob Dole received as a Congressman during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This program is the first installment of a multi-part series presented in conjunction with the exhibit “Voices from the Big First”.

Funding for this program is provided by Humanities Kansas.

The Ft. Leavenworth Series

ISIS, Abu Bakr Naji, and the Management of Savagery

Brian Steed

Thursday, February 4 at 3 p.m.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS used the Management of Savagery as both an operational concept and doctrine. Written for al-Qaeda in 2004 but demonstrated most thoroughly by ISIS from 2014 to 2021, the online published work explains how Islamist ideological groups hoped to defeat the West, generally, and the United States, specifically. This presentation explains the main themes of the work and how it was put into practice.

John Boyd and Air Power Theory

Chris Johnson

Thursday, March 4 at 3 p.m. 

More details to come.

Denis Mahan and the Foundations of American Theory

Ethan Rafuse

Thursday, April 1 at 3 p.m.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, no military thinker arguably had more impact on the United States Army than Dennis Hart Mahan. By the time he graduated at the top of his class at West Point in 1824, Mahan had become a protégé of Superintendent Sylvanus Thayer, whose wide-ranging reforms would win him recognition as “Father of the Military Academy.” Mahan’s writings and influence on the officers would dominate the Army nearly to the end of the 19th century and made him one of the most important figures in the evolution of American warfare.

Don Starry, Active Defense, and AirLand Battle

Lou DiMarco

Thursday, May 6 at 3 p.m.

More details to come.

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