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Past Theme Semesters

Fall 2023 | Arts and Resistance

This campus-wide theme semester will be co-sponsored by LSA, the U-M Museum of Art (UMMA), and the U-M Arts Initiative, and explore how the visual, performing, and literary arts play a central role in shaping cultural and political narratives. “Arts & Resistance” will generate public performances, courses, lectures, conferences, exhibitions, workshops, and mini-grants for students, creating an immersive experience that engages the U-M community and broader public in the power of the arts to shape society.

Events, programs, funding resources for project ideas, and more can be found on UMMA’s Theme Semester website:

You can also reach the organizers via email at:

2020-ongoing | Democracy & Debate

A university-wide educational initiative, Democracy & Debate encourages students, faculty, staff, and the Michigan community to explore the exchange of ideas and free speech, the responsibilities of members of a democratic society, structural inequalities in our democratic systems, the power of the voice of the individual voter, and democracy from a local to a global perspective.

Winter 2020 | Great Lakes Theme Semester: Lake Effects

LSA’s research takes place all around the world, but important learning and discovery also happens close to home. The Great Lakes Theme Semester offers opportunities for students, faculty, and the public to engage in issues unique to the region. “Lake Effects” will take an interdisciplinary look at how history, environment, politics, culture, and more are shaped by the lakes. Throughout the semester, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April, coursework, events, films, field trips, lectures, and conferences will shine light on important issues and insights. Please join us in investigating the powerful Lake Effects the Great Lakes have on Michigan and beyond.

Winter 2017 | The Making of the University of Michigan

The winter 2017 theme semester addresses the university’s past and present, its “making” over time, since its 1817 founding, as a center for cultivating knowledge and creativity across an expanding array of disciplines and arts; as a force in public affairs locally, nationally, and globally; as a workplace; and as a way of life for its students, faculty, administrators, and staff. Courses and public events during the semester will emphasize change and continuity in university affairs as they have evolved over the whole course of the institution’s history—and will foster critical discussion of current issues in university life that excite interest among all members of its community. Broadly speaking, the theme semester will help students and faculty better answer the question, “Where are we today, and how did we get here?”

Fall 2017 | Michigan Horizons: The Possible Futures of U-M

The fall 2017 theme semester addresses the changing place of U-M today in American life and global society; the challenges and dilemmas before the university that are already evident or may be anticipated in coming years; and the varied ways and means—including alternative visions of fundamental reform—that can respond to present and future demands. Courses and public events during the semester will place U-M in the context of debates regarding the heritage and mission of public higher education and will examine the expectations and critiques that citizens, students, and scholars now bring to institutions like this one. Generally, the semester will encourage students and faculty to better answer the question, “Where are we now in dealing with present problems, and where do we go from here?”