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Past Theme Semesters

2020-ongoing | Democracy & Debate

A university-wide educational initiative, Democracy & Debate encourages students, faculty, staff, and the Michigan community to explore the exchange of ideas and free speech, the responsibilities of members of a democratic society, structural inequalities in our democratic systems, the power of the voice of the individual voter, and democracy from a local to a global perspective.

Winter 2020 | Great Lakes Theme Semester: Lake Effects

LSA’s research takes place all around the world, but important learning and discovery also happens close to home. The Great Lakes Theme Semester offers opportunities for students, faculty, and the public to engage in issues unique to the region. “Lake Effects” will take an interdisciplinary look at how history, environment, politics, culture, and more are shaped by the lakes. Throughout the semester, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April, coursework, events, films, field trips, lectures, and conferences will shine light on important issues and insights. Please join us in investigating the powerful Lake Effects the Great Lakes have on Michigan and beyond.

Winter 2017 | The Making of the University of Michigan

The winter 2017 theme semester addresses the university’s past and present, its “making” over time, since its 1817 founding, as a center for cultivating knowledge and creativity across an expanding array of disciplines and arts; as a force in public affairs locally, nationally, and globally; as a workplace; and as a way of life for its students, faculty, administrators, and staff. Courses and public events during the semester will emphasize change and continuity in university affairs as they have evolved over the whole course of the institution’s history—and will foster critical discussion of current issues in university life that excite interest among all members of its community. Broadly speaking, the theme semester will help students and faculty better answer the question, “Where are we today, and how did we get here?”

Fall 2017 | Michigan Horizons: The Possible Futures of U-M

The fall 2017 theme semester addresses the changing place of U-M today in American life and global society; the challenges and dilemmas before the university that are already evident or may be anticipated in coming years; and the varied ways and means—including alternative visions of fundamental reform—that can respond to present and future demands. Courses and public events during the semester will place U-M in the context of debates regarding the heritage and mission of public higher education and will examine the expectations and critiques that citizens, students, and scholars now bring to institutions like this one. Generally, the semester will encourage students and faculty to better answer the question, “Where are we now in dealing with present problems, and where do we go from here?”

Past Theme Semesters: 1980–2014

Note: The Past Theme Semester websites below are kept for archival purposes and are not updated. You may notice issues such as out dated information, missing images, and broken links within the sites.

Fall 2014 | Sport in the University

Coordinated bythe Departments of English Language and Literature and Physics

Winter 2014 | India in the World

Coordinated by the Center for South Asian Studies.

Winter 2013 | Understanding Race

Coordinated by the Museum of Natural History, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Ginsberg Center, Program on Intergroup Relations, and School of Social Work, and a faculty and staff Steering Committee.

Fall 2012 | Translation

Coordinated by the Department of Comparative Literature.

Winter 2012 | Language: the Human Quintessence

Sponsored by the Department of Linguistics, together with faculty from several departments.

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.

Fall 2010 | What Makes Life Worth Living?

John Chamberlin, Professor of Psychology and Public Policy and Director, Center for Ethics in Public Life and Chris Peterson, Professor of Psychology and Organizational Studies and Director, Michigan Center for Positive Psychology

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

Led by the Museum Studies Program and the Museum of Art in 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

Fall 2007–Winter 2008 | China Now

Sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies

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

Organized by the Dean's Office of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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