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Tuesday, Dec. 5
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

College announces new Themester, unveils new bus

It’s going to be a delicious semester next fall with the new Themester “Eat, Drink, Think: Food from Art to Science.”

The College of Arts and Sciences announced the new theme Wednesday with the unveiling of the 2014 Themester bus.

Tracy Bee is the director of academic initiatives for the College and organized the Themester.

“Each year, the College chooses a theme that connects the undergraduate classroom experience to issues of great and lifelong importance,” Bee said.

The theme will include special courses focused on food from multiple areas of study and a series of events that will go along with the theme, said John Lucaites, associate dean of the College.

“Food and the role that food plays — social, cultural, political, economic context — is an important and interesting consideration for many people,” Lucaites said.

Larry Singell, the dean of the College, attended the unveiling Wednesday.

“Food is one of the great universal unifiers across the whole world, and it’s an important part of our culture,” Singell said. “Sharing a meal has actually been, over time, one of the great human events.”

Humans identify with food in incredible ways, whether it’s ethnically or otherwise, Lucaites said.

Though the events list isn’t finalized yet, it will include movies at the IU Cinema, IU Art Museum and Lilly Library exhibits and a lecture series about obesity, Bee said.

“We’re partnering with the Office of Sustainability for the first time since 2010, when we focused on the theme of sustainability,” Bee said. “Each year, the Office of Sustainability puts on a food festival, ‘Big Red Eats Green,’ and Themester is proud to be a part of this event this year.”

The Themester will also include a panel discussion about the modern meat industry and a food-themed performance by the University tWits.

The College is also working with Union Board to bring in a speaker, Bee said.
Most of the Themester events will be free and open to the public.

“Aside from attending events or signing up for Themester courses, undergraduate students are involved in Themester in a number of ways,” Bee said.

Students were part of the planning committee. There are 10 Themester interns, and students are training to give the themed tours of the IU Art Museum, she said.

Themester began in 2009 with the theme, “Evolution, Diversity and Change,” Bee said. Sustainability, war and peace and networks have also been past topics.

“Every year is different,” Bee said. “The topic drives our partnerships and the events.”
This year, however, two minors, including the food anthropology minor, directly relate to the theme.

“If you look at the list of Themester courses, you’ll see anthropology is very well-represented, and some of these classes will fulfill minor requirements,” Bee said.

Peter Todd is a professor in the College. He is teaching a Hutton Honors College course for the Themester called “Food For Thought: The Cognitive Science of Eating.”
Todd said his course will look at the way food is connected to memory, decision-making, language and even philosophy.

“That’s a lot of what evolution shaped our minds to do,” Todd said. “To solve problems around finding food, figuring out what is good to eat, figure out what things to avoid, to not eat.”

Several other departments are offering classes in the theme’s area, including economics, apparel merchandising and geography. The classes vary in topics from the “Geography of Food” to “Economics of Obesity.”

“Food not only is a theme that can be examined and discussed in virtually every academic discipline, but it obviously touches everyone,” Bee said. “Whether you enjoy food or not, food is inescapable. You must eat.”

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