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Past Themes

Semester-long themes for the campus COLL 300 help to guide and focus faculty proposals for that semester's three campus COLL 300 visitors, and provide a shared experience for students. 

Spring 2019

Ceremony  Ceremony occurs in many forms and arenas, spanning the natural and cultural, the secular and sacred, and grounding the legitimacy of authority. The performance of ceremony expresses the accepted social order – and can mark transitions in that order – for individuals, groups, and nations. Ceremonies may include religious rituals, such as baptism, marriage, and pilgrimage, and state rites, such as the inauguration of political leaders and the execution of criminals. They may vary in scale from large public rites, such as the commemoration of important historical events or the opening of a new city shopping mall, to small private ceremonies, such as the celebration of a wedding anniversary or a funerary ritual.

Fall 2018

Bodies That Matter  Whether exploring the complex interactions of celestial forces or contemporary questions of social justice, scholars recognize that all bodies exist within broader systems that create parameters of possibility for their significance and action. Fundamental questions include, how do some bodies exert disproportionate force? How are bodies conceptualized differently in distinct contexts across the globe? What chain reactions in knowledge, power, or organization ensue when new bodies are introduced into existing systems? How do bodies transform their surrounding environments? And how can scholars stimulate recognition of overlooked, undervalued, or alienated bodies? 

Spring 2018

Sustainability  Conceptions of sustainability range from the static, to the stable, to complex adaptive networks. The persistence or endurance of systems, processes, social constructs, and life itself requires the ability to change and evolve. As we seek to manage relations among humans, and between humans and the natural world, an understanding of sustainability will be vital to local, national, and global conversations and debates.

Fall 2017

IN / EXclusion  The processes of inclusion and exclusion involve both human and natural forms of curation. Who or what gains full or partial participation, or none? At the human level, consider excommunication and ecumenicalisms, outcasts and elites, the intellectual and creative margins and accepted canons. In the physical world, a foreign body enclosed in a mass, an inert or incendiary combination of elements. In architectural design, theories and policies of walls.

Spring 2017

Unrest  At an institution dedicated to inquiry and examination, the intellectual waters are always in a state of unrest. Unrest, in a scientific sense, can imply loss of equilibrium. Unrest can be one feature of a psychological state leading to questioning or creativity; of a social state leading to criticism or conflict. Unrest can be a stimulus or a crisis, a challenge or a moment. 

Fall 2016

Well-Being  The qualitative (and subjective) state of "well-being" gains increasing importance as we move beyond simple survival. Individuals with higher perceived levels of well-being report feeling healthy, socially engaged, and satisfied with their lives; societies structured to promote well-being are likelier to have a flourishing citizenry. What personal, social, community, physical, and environmental contexts best nurture not only the health of human beings, but of all creatures?