The University Record, January 25, 1999

Diversity theme semester takes shape

By Joel Seguine
News and Information Services

“Diversity: Theories & Practices,” the winter term theme semester, is under way at the University. Co-sponsored by LS&A and Dialogues on Diversity, the campus-wide effort has a four-fold structure of research, courses and activities culminating in the “Capstone Experience”—designed to engage different campus communities in a range of ventures that can be realized in the current or later semesters.

The diversity theme semester has its foundation in more than 100 courses in LS&A and 13 other schools and colleges. These courses, ranging from a wide variety of cultural studies to biological anthropology to music and dance, provide the intellectual support for activities developed by students, staff and faculty.

The “Capstone Experience” will feature presentations at five different locations around the University, March 27–31. The Office of the Vice President for Research and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program will provide mini-grants for students and instructors involved in theme semester courses. These grants will support projects that pursue research in the curriculum.

“The diversity theme semester will focus attention on issues of pressing importance to the whole University community, and draw us out in new directions as we explore the assumptions about, and realities of, diversity in our society,” says Patricia Gurin, LS&A interim dean. “Each theme semester at the U-M has had its own character; this one is designed to continue building into the future. Its objective is to enrich the interdisciplinary environment that enables us to learn from one another.”

Theme semester events include:

• “Trying the System: Lawyers and Racial Justice,” a panel discussion featuring: J.L. Chestnut Jr., the first Black lawyer in Selma; Muneer Ahmad, staff attorney with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles; Marisa J. Demeo, regional counsel of the Washington, D.C., Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The event begins at 4 p.m. Jan. 25 in Room 250, Hutchins Hall.

• “Arab-American Activism: Bridges to the 21st Century,” featuring sessions on such topics as environmental discrimination, women’s issues, student activism and media stereotypes, Jan. 29–31, at various campus locations. Send e-mail to Arab.Student.Conference@umich.edu.

• “Mosaic Youth Theatre” will be artists-in-residence at the Residential College Jan. 29–30. Their original play, HeartBeat, will be presented in the Trueblood Theatre at 8 p.m. They also will give a free concert at the Residential College Auditorium at 1 p.m. Jan. 30.

• “Out of Africa: A Celebration of Botanical Magnificence” is featured throughout February at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The exhibitions and programs unite the Gardens’ mission and collections with the core value of cultural and biological diversity. The month-long activity includes docent tours, music, visiting artists, story telling, lectures and more.

• “Aquarium,” a multimedia production featuring members of the Dance Department and School of Music, at the Power Center for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m. Feb. 4–6.

• “Acariciando el Linenzo: Arte Contemporaneo Mexicano” (Caressing the Canvas—Contemporary Mexican Art), an exhibit of the work of three Mexican artists—Claudia Heckt, Diana Guarneros, and Jorge Leguizamo—will be on view at the William Monroe Trotter House Jan. 23–Feb. 13.

• Brenda Flanigan, an alumna of the University who received three Hopwood awards, will lecture and read from her work, “In Praise of Older Women and Other Crimes,” at 8 p.m. March 11 in Hale Auditorium.

• Elvia Alvrado, a peasant leader and political activist from Honduras and author of Don’t Be Afraid Gringo, will speak on March 13. For more details, contact Lucy Arellano, larellan@umich.edu.

• Exhibits in the Hatcher Graduate Library’s North Lobby display cases will highlight many of the campus events, theme semester classes and library resources that support them.

Details on all diversity theme semester activities can be found at www.umich.edu/~theme/index.html.