This Fall 2023 term has been especially noteworthy for LSWA because of our participation in LSA's Arts and Resistance Theme Semester. We’ve been delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with this exciting campus initiative because of how similar its mission of “exploring the power of the arts to shape society” is to our own program goals of building community through creativity. We do this by uniting socially and academically diverse students both inside and outside of the classroom, which is also how we approached our involvement in this theme semester. 

LSWA’s academic engagement with the theme semester in the classroom involved several LSWA instructors redesigning their courses to focus more explicitly on Arts and Resistance. These included classes like Writing About Arts and Resistance taught by LSWA Director Scott Beal,  TV and Resistance: What if the revolution IS being televised? with Shelley Manis from UM’s Sweetland Writing Center, and Art in Public Spaces: Mural Making instructed by LSWA Art Director Mark Tucker. These were all very popular classes among our students, and those taking Art in Public Spaces were ecstatic to see their mural recently installed in Palmer Commons! 

In addition to these fantastic class offerings, LSWA also hosted a series of community events in September featuring the reunion of the Dark Noise Collective. This nationwide, multiracial, multi-genre collective features some of the most exciting, insightful, and powerful poets writing today – Fatimah Asghar, Franny Choi, Nate Marshall, Aaron Samuels, Danez Smith, and Jamila Woods. The poets participated in a panel discussion at UM’s Museum of Art entitled “I Can’t Be Lost When I See You: A Dark Noise Collective Panel Discussion about Finding Strength in Artistic Community,” as well as a group performance at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Additionally, some members of the collective also visited LSWA’s September All-Community Meeting, facilitated writing workshops, and spoke at student organizations led by LSWA alumni. 

After our collaboration with the Dark Noise Collective, LSWA continued engaging with the theme semester by partnering with the Michigan Community Scholars Program (MCSP) to support their Arts and Resistance programming. This included bringing several local choral groups to campus for the Community Sing: Songs of Resistance and Hope, which was later followed by a series of workshops and other events featuring MCSP’s inaugural Community Builder in Residence – the accomplished writer and speaker Mikhaella Norwood. It was a joy to work with a fellow Michigan Learning Community to provide these valuable opportunities for students across campus!

LSWA is extremely grateful to the Arts Initiative for the funding they provided to make our Arts and Resistance events happen. As we reflect on the conclusion of another great semester, we’re proud of the way our program has grown and thankful for the community partnerships we’ve made along the way!