Theme Selection Process and Timeline

To apply for the theme year, fill out the Theme Application and submit by the stated deadline (typically the end of February).

The Learning and Community Engagement (LaCE) Committee will review the applications and meet with the applicants during March and April. A recommendation for the theme is then made to the President and the new theme topic is announced mid to late April.

Theme Timeline Image 


Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of the theme is to encourage public discourse and civic engagement around socially significant issues among the WSU community of learners, and to promote ways to affect positive change in the world.

The basic criteria are:

  • identified faculty, staff, and community members who will take the lead on planning and implementing the theme
  • how well the proposed addresses the five goals of the University Theme

WSU University themes began informally in the Fall of 2007, when a flash flood caused extensive damage in our region the week before the start of fall classes.

As the campus community came together to support those affected by the flood and also learn more about the how's and why's of the flood and its impact on people, we saw the benefits of exploring an issue together across disciplinary boundaries. Starting with "Our Drinking GOuntains, Our Water" in 2009-09, we began to have named theme years that purposefully engaged our community in education and celebration of a timely issue.

See Past Themes for a description of each theme since then.

Successful themes have had an interdisciplinary team of committed faculty and staff who:

  • started planning early
  • leveraged connections within the community and across the university
  • involved students in the implementation of the theme

Any faculty or staff individual/group who is willing to take the organizational leadership in planning and implementing the proposed theme year activities for nearly two years from the time of the application.

Theme year planning and implementation offers a wonderful opportunity to engage with colleagues across the university on a topic you are passionate about.

In addition, there are university funds to support programming about the topic and other sources of support that you usually don't have access to (staff and committee members, support classes and structures, publicity, etc.).

Yes and no. The group who proposed the chosen theme is expected to take the lead on planning, budgeting, organizing, and coordinating theme events/activities, assessment, and communication.

However, they are guided and supported by the Director of IPAR, the Director of Student and Community Engagement and the LaCE Committee throughout the process.

This committee is an "all-university" committee, advisory to the President, with representatives from all campus constituencies, including students, and also community members.

They are charged to "(1) Build awareness, capacity and accountability for collaborations with community partners that serve as a form of pedagogy and scholarship to help develop our students' civic intelligence and empower them to contribute to the community in ways that are meaningful to society as well as themselves. (2) Select and coordinate WSU's annual "university-wide theme."

There is a budget of $15,000 to support theme-related programming. Additional monetary support in the past has come comes from departments on campus that have related interests, Foundation grants and external funding sources.