Past Themes

Envisioning the World We Want - 2016-2023

Exploring Experiential Learning - 2015-2016

The CFD took a year to explore experiential learning, reviewing current efforts on campus and thinking through the potential for the future.

Pop Culture - 2014-2015

The theme considered Pop Culture as a phenomenon which, when an idea, an image, an attitude goes mainstream. The CFD asked the question: "Communal recognition gives pop culture power, but what does pop culture say about the society in which it circulates?"

In addition to programming funded directly by the DCF, the DCF's member centers also plan programming focused on the theme. Events Included:

  • Banned Books Week: Comics and Graphic Novels from the Dartmouth College Library's Collection
    • The Dartmouth College Library celebrated the freedom to read with a display of comics and graphic novels from its collection. The display was in conjunction with Banned Books Week, a national event coordinated by libraries, booksellers, and publishers to draw attention to the problem of censorship. Comics and graphic novels have been subject to book challenges in schools, libraries, and universities across the country, and often show up on the American Library Association's Top Ten List of frequently challenged books. Themes covered in the books may often reflect popular culture sentiments of the day.
  • Inaugural Roger S. Aaron '64 Lecture on Ethics in Law and Business with Ken Feinberg - Unconventional Responses to Financial Catastrophe: Tailoring the Law to Meet the Challenges"
    • Mr. Feinberg is one of the nation's leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. He was appointed by President Obama to administer the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the BP oil spill, and the One Fund Boston Victim Relief Fund. 
  • Budd Schulberg: A Centennial Celebration
        • Presentations about Schulberg's work as a novelist, short story writer, journalist, and screenwriter by scholars, professional colleagues, and family.

Body Politic(s) - 2013-2014

Amidst a climate of global uncertainty, there is no more critical issue than taking care of ourselves and each other. From international dialogue to local organizing, the DCF looked to engage our entire community through this issue.  Some questions that aligned with our theme:

  1. How does one grapple with stark disparities in international health care?
  2. What is our "bystander responsibility" when we see unhealthy behavior?
  3. How does our political system impact our health and wellbeing?
  4. Does caring about faraway health problems even make a difference?

The DCF created a focus/sub-themes for each term that helped students, staff, and faculty explore elements of the theme.

  • Fall: "Taking it Personally": The role of the individual in addressing systemic issues.
  • Winter: "Economics of Healthcare": The haves, the have-nots, and the mismatch of services and needs.
  • Spring: "Body Image": What we see, what we think, and how we feel.

In addition to programming funded through our RFP and DCF-led programming, the DCF's member centers also planned programming focused on the theme. Events included:

  • Medical Humanities Workgroup
    • The newly emerging field of "medical humanities" offers opportunities for scholars in the humanities and humanities-oriented social sciences to be in dialogue with physicians and clinicians. The Leslie Center supported a new workgroup that will began convening in the fall of 2013. This project aimed to explore ways in which the humanities and the health sciences can work together to generate a theoretical vocabulary that supports ongoing dialogue and collaboration productive to both sides.
  • Women's Leadership Council
    • The Women's Leadership Council (WLC) is a collective organization of all self-identified female leaders at Dartmouth serving the needs and interests of women on campus by providing a discussion forum for women's issues and helping individual groups to work towards understanding, consensus, and common goals.
  • Afternoon Tea at the CGSE
    • Afternoon Tea at the CGSE is a monthly program providing the Dartmouth community an opportunity to engage in dialogue and discussion about gender-related topics over tea. Through examples in literature, film, and other media, Afternoon Tea seeks to create a safe and inviting space for students, staff, and faculty to explore ideas around gender, identity, and society. 
  • Men's Project:  White Ribbon Campaign
    • The White Ribbon Campaign is the CGSE Men's Project's flagship initiative, calling men to pledge in the fight to end sexual violence. In addition to handing out white ribbons to the community, The White Ribbon Campaign provides opportunities for the Dartmouth community to explore and analyze the role that men can play in stopping rape. 
  • Ally Development Training Program
    • The CGSE and the Office of Pluralism and Leadership (OPAL) work collaboratively to provide a comprehensive Ally Development Training Program for Dartmouth students, staff, and faculty. Ally Development Training is an opportunity for all members of the Dartmouth community to gain knowledge and skills to better support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer identified individuals.
  • David Levy: "No Time to Think"
    • Today we have the most powerful tools for teaching, scholarship, and learning the world has ever known. How is it that we have so little to think, and what can we do about it?  David Levy is Professor at the Information School, University of Washington in Seattle. 
  • Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
    • "The sublime interaction of dance and live music was the subject of this evening of works by legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones, the Tony, Obie and MacArthur "genius" award winner. 
  • Los Angeles Poverty Department/Wunderbaum
    • "The first performance group in the nation comprised primarily of people who have experienced homelessness, Los Angeles Poverty Department teamed up with Netherlands-based collective Wunderbaum, which, like LAPD, tackles critical social issues with intelligence, humor, compassion and absorbing stagecraft. Combining material from interviews with patients and doctors—including researchers at The Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science—with the familiar tropes of hospital television series, the actors created a metaphor for the healthcare system: an exciting "ficto-mentary" of love, life, money and death. 
  • Mark Morris Dance Group
    • "A world-renowned choreographer of great ambition and endless invention, whose works speak powerfully to the human condition, Morris is also known for his commitment to live music. At the Hop, the company performed three works with live accompaniment provided by the MMDG Music Ensemble, including: The Argument (1999) set to Schumann's Fünf Stücke im Volkston; Silhouettes (1999), set to Richard Cumming's Silhouettes for Piano Solo; and Festival Dance (2011), set to Hummel's Piano Trio No. 5 in E. Major. Also on the program was A Wooden Tree (2012), danced to recorded music by the deliciously eccentric 20th-century Scottish poet and songwriter Ivor Cutler."

Centering the Arts at Dartmouth - 2012-2013

The DCF's theme for the 2012-2013 academic year was Centering the Arts at Dartmouth. We adopted this theme in concert with the Dartmouth's highlighting the academic year as the Year of the Arts at Dartmouth. The opening of the Black Family Visual Arts Center, the 50th anniversary of the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts and the renovation and expansion of the Hood Museum of Art all prompted this celebration. Each of our member centers devoted some of its programming efforts to celebrating the power of the arts in promoting our various missions.

Our goals for this theme were to spotlight:

  • The benefits of the arts to society and individual achievement;
  • The value and excellence of the arts at Dartmouth;
  • The breadth of arts intersections across campus; 
  • The role of the arts in preparing students for life-long learning; and
  • To engage the entire student body in the arts at Dartmouth.

Over the course of the year the DCF and YOA Steering Committee provided funding for 18 events.  Events included:

  • Talk: Tunes & Thoughts. A Night With the Underground
  • Throwback Dance Party
  • Kliptown (South Africa) Youth Program (KYP) Gumboot Dancers

  • Art+Activism: Poverty and Sustainability in the Mind of the Artist

  • Girls Night at the Opera

  • AnyBody Fashion Show

  • Child Of the World: A Mixed Racical: A New Original Musical

Words and Their Consequences - 2011-2012

Focusing on the impact of words and built on the 2010-2011 theme Speak Out | Listen Up!. This theme addressed the power of communication and considered effective and expressive, as well as dysfunctional communication. 

Used well, words can communicate positively. Uncivil discourse, however, permeates the airwaves and corridors of power. And, while institutions of higher learning seek to instill a culture of civil communication, even the academy is sometimes prey to vitriolic and intemperate language. Given the productive possibilities and the often dysfunctional realities of verbal communication, the DCF considered it an opportune moment to examine Words and their Consequences. During the 2011–2012, the DCF’s thematic programming:

  • Examined communication ranging from aggressive to pacific expression, and gauged the impact of both. 
  • Illuminated the weaponizing of language as well as the challenges of turning strong language to good ends. 
  • Engaged with the repercussions of unintended consequences—how can we control words, can we control them and should we?

In the fall term, the DCF awarded funding to the Journal of Comparative Literature at Dartmouth for the spring term launch of the Journal which focused on the "Words and their Consequences" theme.  In the winter term, the DCF awarded funds to five programs that took place in the spring 2012 term, including:

  • "Undue Influence", performed by the Dartmouth Dance Theater Ensemble
    • A repeat engagement of the DDTE's original dance-theater work examining the impulse, incidence and implications of sexual assault in a college social environment. The culminating performance event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
  • "Words as Ammunition in the Copyright Wars", a panel discussion with the author of Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars
    • "Piracy", "stealing", "protection",  and "theft" are among the words used as ammunition in the copyright wars that are being waged with more intensity since the advent of digital information technologies.  What do those words really mean and why are they used in discussions of what are really business and legal transactions, not moral issues?  To truly engage in productive discussions of copyright and to influence future developments, it is critical to first understand the words that have been used for centuries in the "copyright wars", and then to develop a new and more accurate vocabulary.
  • "Spoken Words: Four Poets on the Consequences of their Words"
    • The event was a festival of celebrity poets who are renowned in the spoken word community.
  • "Power in the Profane: The Politics of Poetry"
    • Roger Reeves, a poet, playwright, and literary scholar came to Dartmouth College to read from his upcoming book, King Me. Reeves work explores the tension and ethics of lyricizing personal, historic, and social traumas. 
  • "Languages of Power: Representation of International Development Aid Projects"

Speak Out | Listen Up! - 2010-2011

The 2010–2011 Dartmouth Centers Forum theme, Speak Out | Listen Up! addressed the power of communication. Featuring inspiring speakers and practitioners, as well as a series of more intimate satellite events, the theme aimed to draw students, faculty, and community members into meaningful discussions about effective and expressive, as well as dysfunctional communication. The DCF’s goal was to help promote critical reflection on what it means to find one’s voice and use it to good effect. As the DCF spelled out in its description of the theme: 

  • Liberal arts education demands that students develop strong, meaningful and courageous voices with which to express their informed viewpoints. Exploring various modes of speaking and listening, effective communicators will encourage students to reflect upon their own communicative acts, inside and outside the classroom. This will raise issues ranging from the productive role of communication in building and changing communities to venomous forms of communication, which aim at harming others.

Students, faculty and visitors explored the theme and exemplified the power of communication. DCF members complemented the major public events featuring noted speakers and practitioners with panels, workshops, discussions, and performances which enabled all members of the community to work through ideas of communication in a more informal, but structured atmosphere.

Events included:

  • “Freespeaking: Speaking With (and Listening Up) Before Speaking Out”
    • Speaking out through public speaking is much more interesting—for the speaker and for the audience—when speech is more like dialogue than monologue. In this interactive workshop, Josh Compton, Senior Lecturer in Speech in the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric at Dartmouth College, offered freespeaking—an approach that is similar to freewriting—as a way for speakers to consider dialogue as a vital part of effective, powerful speechmaking. 
  • SHARE (Students Hearing And Responding Effectively)
    • Students participating in the SHARE Leadership Winter Training Program committed to attending up to five training seminars that covered such essential leadership topics as successful communication, using humor effectively, the responsibilities of leaders, how to lead others, and developing the skills of negotiation, confrontation, respectful disagreement and self-motivation.
  • "Speaking Out for Children: My Work with the Harlem Children's Zone", a talk by Geoffrey Canada
    Educator and architect of the "Harlem Children's Zone" and subject of the book Whatever It Takes 
    • Geoffrey Canada spoke to members of the Dartmouth Community about the value of education and the Harlem Children's Zone's model.  Read an article about the event in The Dartmouth.
  • The Lives of Giants, Khmer Arts Ensemble
    • The regal grace, splendid costumes and allegorical richness of Cambodian classical dance vividly illustrate the effects of absolute power in this groundbreaking new work. Choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro is a leader in the revival of this centuries-old art form after its near-decimation by the Khmer Rouge. Inspired equally by Cambodian mythology and contemporary global politics, she and more than 20 dancers and musicians of the "mesmerizing" (Los Angeles Times) Khmer Arts Ensemble interpret a tale in which evil, rampaging giants--like evil, rampaging regimes--must be confronted.

Conflict and Reconciliation - 2008-2010

The aim of the Conflict and Reconciliation theme was to emphasize reconciliation as a method to resolve conflicts no matter what their causes. Conflicts permeate our individual and social relations and may be internal, local, national or international. Reconciliation, viewed as a process of coming to terms with what is, accepting, compromising and forgiving, encompasses all the fields of human endeavor.  As such, the them proved fertile ground for the discussion of questions such as: What makes reconciliation a successful conclusion to conflict? Are there universal processes of reconciliation? Are there conflicts that cannot be reconciled? What innovative methods might be employed in the promotion of reconciliation for conflicts, be they personal, societal or global? From the fall of 2008 through the spring of 2010, the DCF ran a series of events addressing these issues.

Events included:

  • "America's Role in the World," Senator George Mitchell 
    •  The Dartmouth Centers Forum and Dickey Center were pleased to welcome Senator Mitchell to speak on "America's Role in the World" to a large audience at Spaulding Auditorium.
  •  "Labor and Creativity in the Digital Age: New Visions of Work and Rights" 

    • Who should be paid for what? Beginning with an historical perspective then moving to the Hollywood writers' strike as an example of recent labor negotiations activity, the panelists covered the implications of labor in the digital age. We explored how the definition of labor and its reward has evolved over time, discussed who owns the product of labor and how that has been affected by changes in technology, and examined the impact of the digital age on conflict and the ability of differing parties to reconcile their diverse viewpoints.
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