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Theme Semester

An annual theme semester will showcase our college, our outstanding faculty, and the range and relevance of our innovative courses and programs while also illustrating our commitment to undergraduate education both in and outside the classroom.

For updates on opportunities for Theme Semester 2023, visit our external site. This page will be updated with information on future Theme Semester opportunities later.


Theme Semester 2022-2023: PLAY 

Being open to the creative power of “play” is one of the first steps in building a foundation for innovative thinking. Playing may sound childish, but it is a powerful method of exploration that often results in finding a unique perspective that can lead to a truly original idea. While performance anxiety and the pressure to be perfect can lead us to settle for safe solutions, creative play urges us to experiment with numerous ideas, mediums, and tools to find the best way forward. The Spring 2023 theme semester will be devoted to the ways that our campus can engage the concept of play through a variety of disciplines. The College of Arts and Sciences is eager to see how play informs our scholarship, fuels imaginative instruction, and encourages students to embrace the process as much as the final product.

Spring Semester 2023

The 2022-2023 Theme Semester was moved to the spring to allow for further planning and development during Fall 2022. The planning stage of this semester-long exploration of “play” will include developing related academic courses, selecting a keynote speaker, and creating a variety of events and programs tied to the Spring 2023 theme. We encourage all college departments, faculty, and students to participate in the development and implementation of both curricular and co-curricular components of the Spring 2023 theme semester.   

Opportunities to Participate

The Theme Semester Advisory Committee participates in planning Theme Semester, including selecting theme-related courses and co-curricular events. Members of the committee include:

Amit Almor, Professor of Psychology
Lana Burgess, Clinical Professor of Art History and Museum Studies Graduate Director, Museum Management Program
André Megerdichian, Assistant Professor of Dance 
Paula Vasquez, Associate Professor of Mathematics                                Evan Meaney, Professor of Media Arts

Peter Duffy has been selected as the Theme Semester Faculty Coordinator for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The college invites applications for funding to support courses related to our Spring 2023 theme, “Play.” Since our goal is to inspire wide interest and participation among undergraduate students, we encourage proposals for courses at all levels (Carolina Core through 600-level), in any CAS discipline, and of any size (from small seminars to large lectures). 

Due by 9/19/22

The college also invites proposals from CAS faculty members for funding to help develop and offer scholarly and creative activities and events that engage the campus and community, and that complement our Spring 2023 Theme Semester on “Play” in the multiple meanings of that word. 

Due by 9/19/22

Are you a faculty member teaching a Spring 2023 course related to our "Play" theme? If so, we invite you to share the details with us for potential promotion as one of our official Theme Semester course offerings. All approved Theme Semester 2023 classes will be advertised on the Theme Semester webpage and in promotional materials created by the Dean’s Office to encourage interested students to enroll.  

Due by 9/19/22


Previous Theme Semesters

The theme for the Fall 2021 College of Arts and Sciences Theme Semester was “Climates”.

Climate can refer to any region of the earth; the prevailing atmospheric phenomena and conditions of a country or region; and the mental, moral, and emotional environment or atmosphere prevailing in a body of people.

The plural noun emphasizes the idea of climate in all senses. The Fall 2021 theme semester explored the word’s multiple meanings. The chosen theme was based on a proposal that Dr. Jennifer R. Pournelle from the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment submitted in consultation with a wide range of college faculty. More than 30 courses throughout the College of Arts and Sciences and South Carolina Honors College explored aspects of Climates, ranging from ethics and the environment to race and gender. 

The theme of the inaugural Fall College of Arts and Sciences Theme Semester was “Justice”.

Justice is an idea, topic, and aspiration that connects people across academic, political, and everyday spaces. Though a seemingly universal concept, the term is inextricably bound to political and cultural contexts that make it difficult to define: What kinds of (in)justice exist? What injustices should be addressed?  Whose definition of justice should prevail?

Theme Semester 2020 offered opportunities for students, faculty, and community members to engage in debate, inquiry, and conversation about issues of justice relevant across arts and sciences disciplines—from social inequality, electoral politics, criminal justice, land use, biomedical innovation, and climate change, to health, immigration, international relations, law, language, ethics, and economics.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.