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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.

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is pleased to announce a new initiative coordinated by the Dean’s Office and the  Incubator for Innovative Teaching. Beginning in Fall 2020, faculty and students from across the college will spend the fall semester exploring ideas related to a single, intellectually engaging theme. 

This annual theme semester will bring work from across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and mathematical sciences to bear on challenging issues and problems.  It will feature academic courses, public lectures, films, exhibits, discussion panels, and other co-curricular activities surrounding a timely, interdisciplinary topic taught across many arts and sciences disciplines. The ultimate goal is to enrich the educational experience of students both within and outside the College of Arts and Sciences.

Fall 2020  |  Justice

The Dean’s Office is delighted to announce that the theme of the inaugural Fall 2020 College of Arts and Sciences Theme Semester will be “Justice.”

Congratulations to CAS faculty members Monica Barra (School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment/Anthropology), Elaine Chun (English and Linguistics) and Qiana Whitted (English and African American Studies), who submitted the winning proposal, which was selected from a highly competitive pool of applications.

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? 

The theme semester will offer 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.

Next Steps

The next step will be to develop programming for this exciting semester-long endeavor, including related academic courses, a keynote speaker, and a variety of co-curricular events. 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 202O theme semester. Please stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for updates on course proposals, course development mini-grants, student internships, and more.

Contact us!

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

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.