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Theme Semester

An annual theme semester will showcase our college, our outstanding faculty, and the range and relevance of our innovative courses and programs while also illustrating our commitment to undergraduate education both in and outside the classroom.

Theme Semester 2021  |  Climates

The Dean’s office is pleased to announce that the Fall 2021 theme for the annual Theme Semester in the College of Arts and Sciences will be “Climates.” 

“Climate” can refer to any region of the earth; the prevailing atmospheric phenomena and conditions of a country or region; and the mental, moral, and emotional environment or atmosphere prevailing in a body of people.

The plural noun is intended to emphasize the idea of climate in all senses. The Fall 2021 theme semester will be devoted to exploring the word’s multiple meanings. The chosen theme was based on a proposal that Dr. Jennifer R. Pournelle from the School of the Earth, Ocean, & Environment submitted in consultation with a wide range of college faculty.

The planning stage for this semester-long exploration of “climates” will include developing related academic courses, selecting a keynote speaker, and creating a variety of events and programs tied to the Fall 2021 theme.

We encourage all CAS departments, faculty, and students to participate in the development and implementation of both curricular and co-curricular components of the Fall 2021 theme semester. Please stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for updates on co-curricular programming awards, student internships, and more.

If you have questions or ideas to share, please contact Cynthia Davis at or Christy Friend at


Previous Theme Semesters

2020  |  Justice

The theme of the inaugural Fall College of Arts and Sciences Theme Semester was “Justice.”

Justice is an idea, topic, and aspiration that connects people across academic, political, and everyday spaces. Though a seemingly universal concept, the term is inextricably bound to political and cultural contexts that make it difficult to define: What kinds of (in)justice exist? What injustices should be addressed?  Whose definition of justice should prevail?

Theme Semester 2020 offered opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to engage in debate, inquiry, and conversation about issues of justice relevant across arts and sciences disciplines—from social inequality, electoral politics, criminal justice, land use, biomedical innovation, and climate change, to health, immigration, international relations, law, language, ethics, and economics.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.