Past Theme Semesters

Fall 2012 — Translation

This theme semester, coordinated by Comparative Literature, explores translation — an interaction between languages, media, cultures, and disciplines. Where do we encounter translation in our daily lives? Who translates? Why translate? What lessons do we learn from translating? We approach these questions from numerous perspectives: critical and creative, interdisciplinary and international. In this wider sense, translation is at the heart of our community, our university, and the world at large.

Winter 2012 — Language: the Human Quintessence

Sponsored by the Department of Linguistics, together with faculty from several departments, this theme semester examines the vital role that language plays in all aspects of human life. Its multidisciplinary programs explore, among others, linguistic theory, the role of language in philosophy, cognition and cognitive neuroscience, developmental and social psychology, social-cultural anthropology, ethnic and gender studies, evolutionary biology, and information theory.

Winter 2011 — Water

Led by the Program in the Environment, the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, and the Michigan Society of Fellows, this theme semester’s lectures, films, exhibitions, and other activities explore the ways in which water is essential to life on Earth and its role in human health, the global economy, cultural traditions, art and literature, and much more.

Fall 2010 — What Makes Life Worth Living?

The theme semester invites the campus and community to consider a question which has been central to philosophical, religious, and political thought for millennia; engagement with it is considered a hallmark of education in the liberal arts. This vast theme will attempt to focus on the role of the college experience in formulating answers to this enduring question. Students will be encouraged to develop their abilities at moral discernment, to value the diversity of ways that others engage and answer the theme question, to ponder the obligations of citizens in communities — from local to international — and to make the commitments necessary to live meaningfully in their individual and communal lives.

Fall 2009–Winter 2010–Meaningful Objects: Museums in the Academy

Meaningful Objects: Museums in the Academy, led by the Museum Studies Program and the Museum of Art, is part of a continuing celebration of the renovation and reopening of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and the Museum of Art earlier in the year.

Winter 2009 — The Universe: Yours to Discover

Organized by the Astronomy Department and the Exhibit Museum of Natural History as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, marking the 400th anniversary of the first astronomical observation through a telescope by Galileo Galilei.

Fall 2008 — Energy Futures: Society, Innovation and Technology

Organized by the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, the Energy theme semester featured student writing contests, prizes for energy conservation ideas, a new course on the human and social behavioral side of energy use and demand, and visiting speakers on energy innovations and history.

Fall 2007–Winter 2008–ChinaNow

Sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies

Fall 2006–Winter 2007–The Theory and Practice of Citizenship

Winter 2006 — Explore Evolution

Sponsored by the Exhibit Museum of Natural History

Fall 2005 — 100 Years Beyond Einstein

Sponsored by the Department of Physics

Winter 2005 — Cultural Treasures of the Middle East

Sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies

Winter 2004 — Brown vs. Board of Education: Fulfilling the Promise

Sponsored by the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, the Program in American Culture, and the Departments of History, Psychology, and Sociology

Fall 2003 — Celebrating St. Petersburg: 300 Years of Cultural Brilliance

Sponsored by the Center for Russian and East European Studies

Winter 2002 — Women Who Ruled: Gender, Power and Representation

Sponsored by the Program in Women's Studies in collaboration with the University of Michigan Museum of Art

Fall 2001 — Detroit 300

Sponsored by the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts with additional help from the Arts of Citizenship Program, the Edward Ginsberg Center for Community and Service Learning, and the University Library

Winter 1999 — Diversity: Theories and Practices

Sponsored by the Office of Dialogues on Diversity

Winter 1998 — The Environmental Theme Semester: Rethinking the Relationship

Sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment

Fall 1997 — Genders, Bodies, Borders

Sponsored by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the Women's Studies Program

Fall 1996 — Food Throughout Global History

Winter 1996 — Death, Extinction, and the Future of Humanity: Approaching the Millennium

Sponsored by the Program on Studies in Religion

Winter 1994 — The Theory and Practice of Evil

Sponsored by the Program on Studies in Religion

Fall 1993 — Working in a Multicultural Society: The Changing Face of Labor

Sponsored by the American Culture Program and the Center for Research on Social Organization

Fall 1992 — The Americas, Then and Now: Beyond 1492

Sponsored by the American Culture Program

Winter 1992 — The Comedy Semester

Sponsored by the Department of English and the School of Music

Winter 1984 — Patriarchs, Prophets, Demons: The Major Victorians Revisited

Sponsored by the Departments of History and English and the Center for Western European Studies

Winter 1980 — Experiment in Education: The Eighteenth-Century Semester

Sponsored by LSA and the School of Music