Programming Themes

Programming Themes

Themes 1

Care & Well-being

Care & Well-being

The pressures and expectations that confront humans are constantly changing, and can become all-consuming. Amid efforts to be fully present, show up for others, and integrate professional and personal, how do we devote time and intention to care for ourselves, both in community and as individuals? Through programs associated with Care and Well-being, The Commons and collaborative partners will explore the ways in which we can better understand the practice and components of care and well-being.
Emilio Chapela Installation

Data & Democracy

Every day humans are bombarded with an excess of information, far greater than can be processed consciously. With Data & Democracy, The Commons will explore the current state of access to information and the consequences of such exposure. Through talks, Idea Cafés, and other programming, we seek to investigate the ways in which humans create and manage information as well as the ways in which they are bound by it.
Michael Kleber Diggs Poetry Reading in Weaver Courtyard

Fertile Soils, Abundant Worlds

As we confront the myriad conditions for catastrophe that surround us, we can also rely on imagination, collaboration, and creativity to chart different courses. Building on the works of Octavia Butler, Ross Gay, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Beronda Montgomery, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, and more, we open spaces for emergence of new ideas and considerations. Beyond binary frameworks of freedom and oppression or those perpetuated by scarcity mindsets, these invocations envision liberation and abundance beyond familiar domains. We consider abundance and growth, not as quantifiable, but as vehicles for connection, awareness, consideration, and capacity, acknowledging that unknowable and many possibilities can take root in collective wisdom.

Themes 2

Danez Smith Poetry Reading, Photo by Laura Kingston

Framing the Dialogue

The Commons presents this series, in collaboration with campus partners and visiting scholars, to invite dialogue across disciplines that references the broader conversations we face at a societal level. These events broach topics of intersectional identity, community, and the sociopolitical implications of events, recognizing that many of our most powerful institutions and systems can benefit from reflecting on their efforts toward equity. // Photo by Laura Kingston
Sandor Katz.Josie Chandler

The Future University

Higher Education looks different today. Disciplines are in constant flux. Technology is revolutionizing intellectual inquiry, research, and production. Teaching styles and classroom structures are accommodating an exponential growth in knowledge and increased societal complexity, with the mission of advancing human well-being. Yet, much of the “modern” university is still rooted in its centuries-old traditions, structures, and practices.
Rodolfo Dirzo

Humans in a More-Than-Human World

Through these events and initiatives, The Commons presents creative, scholarly, exploratory, and investigative ideas that highlight reciprocal ways of knowing. Through a nontraditional worldview, this series aims to combine forms of knowledge (traditional, scientific, technical, creative, visual, narrative, etc.) In this series, The Commons and collaborative partners will explore known and possible ways to understand the role humans play as individuals and as a species, challenge us to consider new and more perspectives, and listen for voices we are less attuned to hearing.

Themes 3

Black Swallotwail Butterfly on Orange Zinnia

Our Shared Planet: Climate, Story, Relationship, and Responsibility

Through programs in this series, programs charge us to consider our individual and collective responsibilities to the planet. Programs in this series feature artists, storytellers, climate scientists, and many others who have thought deeply about reciprocity and identifying individual gifts for service.
Bumble bee and goldenrod

Repair, Healing, and Reconciliation

Confronted by multiple crises, including but not limited to COVID-19, the threat of misinformation and disinformation, climate injustice, and health disparities, humans face a global reckoning. Through programming in this series, we consider our roles in the current moment--from the most local to the global--by drawing upon collective wisdom, individual experience, and current research.
Jessica Green

Urban Palimpsest: Destruction and Renewal

Through lectures, discussions, film, and art installations, The Commons seeks to explore the implied and inherent values of the urban environment, both visible and understood. The word palimpsest suggests the act of scraping away a layer of writing in preparation for the inscription of new words. Programs provided throughout the year will examine the many ramifications of what comprises life of a city. // Photo by Ryan Waggoner