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Indiana University Bloomington

Fall 2017  Diversity Difference Otherness


Co-curricular Proposals
Curricular proposals
Internship Application
Frequently Asked Questions

Diversity Difference Otherness

Difference and diversity sit at the heart of many contemporary social challenges. Changing demographics have provoked national debates about citizenship and basic human rights. Humans and associated global economic activity have contributed to the spread of invasive species and declines in native biodiversity. Colleges and universities have struggled to recruit and retain diverse faculty and students. Yet efforts to develop collective responses to these and other challenges have been stymied by increasing political polarization, decreasing empathy, and the entrenchment of difference. Transcending these divides requires consideration of fundamental philosophical and empirical questions about how we understand and represent difference, how categories of cultural difference and biodiversity are constructed and maintained, how notions of difference are used to support and undermine communities, and how individuals and collectives resist binary demarcations of the self vs. "other."

Themester 2017 engages diversity by considering how “otherness” has been constructed through time and space; how it is maintained politically and through interpersonal interactions; how it is represented in literature, film, and mass media; and its implications for individual well-being, social action, and environmental health. Our engagement with “otherness” draws from the full complement of the liberal arts—arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences—and from their wide-ranging subject matter—cognitive research on social categorization and bias; science fiction and dystopian literature; histories of racialized conflict; contemporary immigrant experiences; biological diversity, environmental change, and invasive species; stigma and social exclusion; and the ongoing search for life beyond earth.

Themester events, activities, and courses promote dialogue and literacy about the many forms of "otherness,” about what it means to be a welcoming global, national, local, and campus community, and about how we can work collectively toward that goal.

Themester 2017  advisory committee:

Jane McLeod, Department of Sociology (Chairperson)
Edward Comentale, Department of English
Vivian Halloran, Departments of English and American Studies
Dina Okamoto, Department of Sociology
Heather Reynolds, Department of Biology

In Fall 2017, the College will showcase undergraduate courses related to the theme. (See our  Frequently Asked Questions for more information.) A variety of fall events, including lectures, panel discussions, films, theatre productions, and art exhibits, will complement these offerings.  A programming call for these activities will go out after the preliminary course list has been established.


Co-curricular proposals

The College is looking for scholarly and creative activities and events that engage the undergraduate population in the discussion and complement the preliminary Themester curriculum bundle.

Events and activities in the Themester might include:

  • Lectures and panel discussions
  • Colloquia and Workshops
  • Art exhibits
  • Museum programming and exhibits
  • Film screenings
  • Creative Performances

Themester is meant to inspire discussion and reflection on important topics within and across disciplines. To this end, and to better leverage limited resources, multidisciplinary events and partnerships between departments and units are encouraged. 

Please include the following in proposals:

  • a description of the proposed programming and how it links to the theme,
  • a 100-200 word description for the purposes of promotion,
  • any direct or indirect curricular connection,
  • proposed date(s) and times,
  • a detailed budget,
  • the departmental or co-sponsoring unit’s financial contribution,
  • amount of Themester funding required,
  • any initiatives already taken with regard to the event,
  • expected audience (specific disciplines/majors? campus-wide? general public?),
  • publicity efforts that will be undertaken by you or your department,
  • the contact person for the proposed program,
  • and your fiscal officer’s name and contact information.

Contacts & Deadline

Submit co-curricular proposals to themes@indiana.edu by March 31, 2017 for funding consideration. Additional non-funded proposals will be considered until June 1.  Contact themes@indiana.edu with questions or see the frequently asked questions.