Theme Semester 2021 looks at the changing global climate — the soaring temperatures,
the rising sea levels, the increase in extreme weather events — and what we can do
about it. But we'll also examine political and social climates and how they can unite
— or divide — us.
Join us for film screenings, lectures, and a field trip to explore the climates we
Note: Some event details might change, so please mark your calendar, but also check
back on this page as events draw closer. Links for virtual events will be added at
least one week before the events.
Public lecture and experiential event focused on integrating climate consciousness
into professional creative practice and opportunities that the climate emergency presents
to adapt the ways we live, love and learn. With designer Marc O’Brien, graphic designer
and strategist from climate-focused creative studio The Determined.
Examines the dynamics of abuse and intimate partner violence in the lives of transgender
people. Led by Xavier L. Guadalupe-Diaz, associate professor of sociology at Framingham
State University. Part of the virtual Violence and (In)justice Lecture Series on Hostile
Note: This event has been rescheduled for February 2022. Lecture about improving equity and addressing the lack of diversity in museum staff,
exhibitions and collections. Led by Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham, an American for
the Arts American Express Emerging Leader Award winner and the founder of Museum Hue,
an arts organization advancing Black, Indigenous and other people of color in the
Location: Columbia Museum of Art
Note: Unfortunately, this event has been cancelled. The renowned science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson and UofSC faculty will discuss
the ethics and social implications of climate change in Robinson's work, including
the 2020 novel The Ministry for the Future, which grapples with choices the world faces to respond to climate change.
Scholar-led presentations and panel discussion about the contributions of Latin American
ecocriticism, activism, and public scholarship to the environmental humanities. Includes
scholars from the University of Illinois, Rice University and Wofford College.
UofSC faculty lecture with Nick Peng, assistant professor in the School of the Earth,
Ocean, & Environment, on microorganisms — the often unseen (and often overlooked)
majority of our living world — and their role in shaping, recording and responding
to climate change.
Location: Capstone, Carolina Room
Discusses youth violence, why LGBTQ youth and youth of color experience higher risk
of victimization and the consequences of this victimization. Led by Dr. Lindsay Kahle
Semprevivo, teaching assistant professor of criminology at West Virginia University.
Part of the virtual Violence and (In)justice Lecture Series on Hostile Climates.
Lecture and discussion on why it might be best to expect the worst of the dramatic
crises in physical, geopolitical and civil climates. Led by Roy Scranton, director
of the Environmental Humanities Initiative and an associate professor of English at
the University of Notre Dame.
The film is almost entirely composed of aerial shots of various places on Earth. It
shows how tightly linked humans and nature are, and how humanity is threatening the
ecological balance of the planet.
Explores how social institutions restrict mothers of color from equal opportunities
while simultaneously penalizing them for surviving their circumstances. With Dr. Janet
Garcia-Hallett, assistant professor in the University of New Haven’s Department of
Criminal Justice and Criminology. Part of the virtual Violence and (In)justice Lecture
Series on Hostile Climates.
Climate change does not have to be a partisan issue. Richard Alley, host of the PBS
documentary Earth: The Operator’s Manual, highlights opportunities to strengthen the economy and national security while improving
health in a cleaner environment.
What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh?
Cry? Our curiosity? Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand
spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries.
Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Arthus-Bertrand
captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all.
Presentations from School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, Biological Sciences,
Geography and Philosophy faculty highlighting ongoing interdisciplinary research on
characterizing and managing climate change.
How do we now wish to interact with other species that live around us? The power of
Terra resides in this very question. This documentary shows how our own image and representation
of nature has always been decisive in human history, and how it can still change the
course of events to come.
Symposium featuring a screening of the film Mossville: When Great Trees Fall; a conversation with Michelle Lanier, the film’s executive producer; a public discussion
about climate justice, environmental racism and the myriad issues facing African American
communities. A reception will follow.
About Theme Semester
Our annual Theme Semester unites scholars throughout the College of Arts and Sciences in exploring a common theme relevant to daily life and global issues. Innovative undergraduate courses and events
for students and the public showcase our commitment to education both in and outside
The theme for our Fall 2020 Theme Semester was “Justice.”
More than 30 courses throughout the College of Arts and Sciences and South Carolina
Honors College will explore some aspect of Climates,ranging from ethics and the environment to race and gender.
Core Theme Semester Courses.
ITAL 330 / 398 | By Pia Bertucci Climate change poses a potential threat to food systems globally, as droughts affect
food supplies. But food culture affects climate change, too, as food waste in landfills
increases the levels of methane gas.
This course will examine this relationship and explore how the basic tenets of Italian
Foodways — sustainability, eating seasonally and cucina povera — in tandem with progressive
Italian movements such as "Slow Food" and "Food for Soul" effectively navigate these
Through research projects and a final paper, students will incorporate the specific
lessons in the class with broader lessons from Theme Semester events to further their
understanding of the global relationship between climates and food systems.
MSCI 311 | Erin Meyer-Gutbrod This marine science course examines how aquatic organisms are involved in cycling
materials and energy through marine food webs. During Theme Semester, the course will
dive deep into exploring the impacts of warming, acidifcation, ice melt and sea level
rise on marine biological processes. A new lab component will introduce hands-on experience.
HIST 360 and GERM 295 / ENVR 295 | By Lara Ducate and Thomas Lekan Green Technology in Germany and Into the Wild: Conservation since 1800 will be taught
side-by-side in the Green Quad learning center to facilitate collaboration.
These courses historically focus on both the natural and cultural Climates that have
shaped sustainable practices inside and outside the US. Taken together, they offer
students a unique interdisciplinary opportunity to engage sustainability topics through
This Fall the courses will explore how global warming and climate justice are reshaping
the environmental movement to be more inclusive of local, indigenous and urban communities
and perspectives. Several field trips will be offered to allow students to see climate
action close to home.
ENGL 439 | By Greg Forter This course asks what literatures from across the globe can teach us about the causes,
effects and potential solutions to global climate change.
We'll discuss a series of novels in which the disasters of such change are explored
with great complexity and power. These works invite questions about the local experience
of global transformations, why are devastations unevenly distributed around the world?
What does the emphasis on dystopian futures reveal about the task of imagining alternatives
to our current order?
MSCI 599 | By Lori Ziolkowski Climate change is happening whether we accept it or not. Therefore, we need to understand
why it is happening, what the impacts of it will be, and how we can stop it? But for
some, a science class can be intimidating.
This course bridges the gap by using science fiction — or climate fiction — to discuss
the physical basis of climate change, the impacts on society and how we can cool a
future planet. Literary works from the late 19th century through today explore scenarios
of extreme global warming and cooling, widespread drought and flooding due to projected
sea level rise.
RUSS 319 | By Alex Ogden Russian authors discussed climate and the environment more than 100 years ago. During
Theme Semester, this course will introduce new units that explore passages of Russian
literature in which the country’s climate is mapped onto the mental, moral and emotional
life of its citizens.
Note to students and advisors: Pay attention to the faculty member listed for each
course in order to sign up for the section that will connect to the Climates theme.
AFAM 397 / SOCY 398 | Unpacking Whiteness | Deena Isom ANTH 381 | WGST 381 | Gender and Globalization | Drucilla Barker ARTH 321 | History of Northern REnaissance Art | Anna House BIOL 570 | Principles of Ecology | Joshua Stone BIOL 571 / ENVR 571 | Conservation Biology | Carol Boggs CHEM 542L | Physical Chemistry Laboratory | Andrew Greytak CHEM 623 | Introductory Environmental Chemistry | John Ferry CRJU 591 / AFAM 397 | Miscarriages of Justice | Deena Isom ENGL 102 | Anthropocene Composition: Climate Changes, Climate Crises | John Purfield ENGL 439 | World Literature and Global Climate Change | Greg Forter ENVR 501 / GEOG 510 | Special Topics: Socionatural Coastlines | Robert Dean Hardy FAMS 310 / GEOG 310 | Special Topics in Popular Media: Climates of Disasters | Mark Cooper GEOG 105 | The Digital Earth | Jory Fleming GEOG 202 | Weather and Climate | Greg Carbone GEOG 380 | Global Geography of Human Rights | Meredith DeBoom GEOG 573 | Climate Change and Variability | Greg Carbone GEOG 735 | Seminar in Political Geography | Meredith DeBoom GEOL 325 | Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Basins | Dave Barbeau GERM 295 / ENVR 295 | Green Technology in Germany | Laura Ducate HIST 360 | Into the Wild: Conservation Since 1800 | Thomas Lekan LING 305 | Ethics in the Language Classroom | Lesley Smith LING 305 / WGST 389 | Language, Gender, and Sexuality | Archie Crowley MSCI 750 / GEOL 750 | Advanced Analytical Methods: Chemical Climate of the Urban River | Howie Scher MSCI 752 | Marine Biochemistry | Xuefeng Peng PHIL 370 | The Ethics of Climate | Matt Kisner SCHC 311 | Tracking Climate Change: Discovering the Mathematics Behind Weather | Scott Dunn SPAN 575 / SPAN 783 | Ecological Cultural Studies in Latin America | Andrew Rajca
Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.