The College of Arts and Sciences has chosen to put beauty under the microscope for its fall 2016 semester-long themed program, known more simply as Themester.
Themester coordinator Tracy Bee said the initiative showcases what CASE does best, incorporating the involvement of both faculty and students alike.
Themester is an initiative designed to engage students and faculty with classes, workshops, lectures, exhibits and performances all based on the same theme.
This year’s “Beauty” is spearheaded by Ellen MacKay, an assistant English professor and director of the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities.
MacKay said Beauty spoke to her as a topic that inspires broad curiosity and discussion.
“I think the great thing about beauty is that it’s so foundational that it’s pre-disciplinary,” MacKay said. “It’s the thing that makes us stop and notice the world around us. Beauty is a kind of halting moment in which reflection gets cued.”
Throughout the semester, there will be programs like movies about beauty and a lecture and photo exhibit on biodiversity.
The first event, a movie at IU Cinema, took place Monday.
Sophomore intern Eyob Moges said he is looking forward to working on Beauty throughout the semester.
“I love how it’s such a fundamental aspect of human life,” Moges said. “It influences things from what we buy, to the people we keep close to us; daily interactions to sometimes just our mood; and yet it’s something I don’t think a lot of people have a great grasp of.”
The theme was proposed a few years back, as is custom for Themester, MacKay said. Every proposal must be submitted before a faculty council because of the extensive planning of classes, events and other aspects of Themester.
Themester offers multidisciplinary classes to look at beauty in anything, MacKay said, from mathematics to poetry to biology.
“It’s an opportunity for us as members of the scholarly community to really think about how we all fundamentally are jumping off from the same launch point,” MacKay said.
After a theme is chosen, academics are given primary attention, Bee said.
From there, there is a callout for faculty interested in proposing courses before any events are added into the mix.
“Ideally, the [programming complements] the courses that we’ve chosen,” Bee said.
After everything is settled, they begin to get the word out.
The process starts relatively early; Bee said advertising for 2017’s “Diversity” Themester has already begun.
The initiative also has interns to help with outreach, who Bee said are being paid for the first time. This is an attempt to make Themester a more attractive internship.
For Moges, however, the interest in working for Themester comes from the program itself.
After attending an event for last year’s “Work,” he said he decided to apply for the internship when it opened up in the spring.
He said he hopes more students become involved in the program to add depth to their thinking and change their point of view, if only for a little while.
“[Themester, with topics like beauty and diversity] is not super abstract, it’s something that you can directly deal with, it’s something that can directly affect you,” Moges said. “It’s not something you think about and leave, it’s something you continue to mull over and experience.”
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