Themes – From the Ground Up

The Center has its ears to the ground, learning what issues are of interest and greatest concern to our community of scholars at UWM and the region. We use what we learn to build themes that extend over time, drawing scholars into relationship and idea generation that might yield research proposals, publications in a wide range of forms, or curricular innovations. Building on C21’s rich traditions, we expect and celebrate work of the highest quality across fields of critical theory, public humanities, and digital humanities.

C21 has a long tradition of selecting an annual theme to guide its programming and the collaborations of its Fellows. This single theme culminated in an annual spring conference, and often the publication of a monograph of the conference proceedings. See this archive of past conference themes.

Nourishing Democracy

To better accommodate the time it takes to build collaborations and to open the possibility of addressing the many pressing issues of the moment, C21 has identified three themes for 2022-2025, building out under the umbrella of “Nourishing Democracy.” They include Lonely No More!, Nourishing Trust, and Trust the Vote.

The three-year programming arc is an intentional design informed by social justice pedagogy, with the first year of programs focused on topics of reflection (loneliness), the second year on common connections and differences (using food), and the third year on how these foundations help inform topics of response and responsibility (exploring civic engagement). The overarching program aims to facilitate discussions of democracy while using a curricular model that was developed to help foster democratic relationships inside and outside classrooms.