IOWA CITY — In an age when even toasters can connect with the internet, when people get their news from Facebook and babies have Instagram accounts, our lives are increasingly digital.
Exploring what that means and how rapidly changing technology impacts the way we live is the focus of the University of Iowa’s 2017 theme semester, “Our Lives Online.”
This will be the third theme semester the UI has hosted through the Provost’s Office of Outreach and Engagement. The theme semesters bring together faculty, students and community partners to examine one topic throughout the semester in classes, lectures and activities, many of which are open to the public.
This year, that includes bringing two speakers to campus who have used the internet as a catalyst for activism.
On Feb. 6, #BlackLivesMatter co-creator Patrisse Cullors will visit campus to discuss her work.
On Jan. 18, writer and activist Luvvie Ajayi will present a lecture on her use of comedy, activism and technology as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week.
Linda Snetselaar, associate provost for outreach and engagement, said student ambassadors, who work with the theme semester’s planning committee, suggested the speakers.
“We want to do as much as we can with being sure we include diversity and a variety of speakers who will resonate with community partners but also with our students on campus,” she said. “One of the things we have done is involved student ambassadors, and they have a variety of ideas in terms of who might be valuable.”
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The theme semester kicks off Jan. 17 with WorldCanvass, a panel discussion hosted by the UI’s International Programs. Seven panelists from the campus and the wider community will talk about social media, access, the power of influence, and new and rapidly changing technologies during the event, which is being filmed for viewing later online or as a podcast.
With such a broad topic, there are endless ways to think about the semester’s themes, said Joan Kjaer, director of communications and relations at the UI’s International Programs.
Working Group Theatre playwright Jennifer Fawcett will discuss her play “Out of Bounds,” a show centered on cyberbullying. Mark Ginsberg, owner of M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art in Iowa City, will talk about how he branched out from jewelry to printing perfect 3-D replicas of human organs for doctors to examine before surgery.
“We’re just going to explore what’s happening in the way of communication and our world on the internet,” Kjaer said. “Our overall goal is to bring interesting and, we think, important discussions before the public.”
The UI will announce more events and details this month.
The first theme semester, in 2015, was “Food for Thought,” focusing on food. The 2016 theme semester, “Just Living,” examined social justice issues. The 2018 spring theme semester will focus on sustainability — the planning committee is looking for collaboration and activity ideas now.
A call for themes for the 2019 semester will open this month.
If you Go
- What: University of Iowa theme semester, “Our Lives Online”
- When: Jan. 17 kickoff, 6:30 p.m. reception, 7:30 p.m. program
- Where: Recital hall, Voxman Music Building, 93 E. Burlington St., Iowa City
- RSVP: at international.uiowa.edu/connect/programs/worldcanvass
- Full lineup: Programs, open to the public, will be posted this month at theme.uiowa.edu
- Comments: (319) 398-8434; email@example.com