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Themester 2020 explores ‘Democracy’

For Immediate Release Sep 16, 2020

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The College of Arts and Sciences’ 12th annual Themester will explore the theme “Democracy” throughout the fall. Coinciding with the U.S. presidential election in November and the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “Democracy” offers public activities and virtual events as well as over two dozen academic courses related to the theme.

Several voter buttons appear in a line
Themester coincides with the November election but will also explore the theme of democracy more broadly.Photo by Getty Images

“In any country, democracy is an ongoing project that is constantly evolving and adapting to new challenges,” said Regina Smyth, associate professor of political science and Themester 2020 advisory committee co-chair. “IU’s community has unique resources to explore democracy projects around the world as societies wrestle with climate change, COVID-19, inequality and new media. These challenges are transforming how democracy works and is shaping students’ futures.”

Although inspired in part by this year’s election, Themester courses and programs will explore the idea of democracy more broadly.

“When many of us think of democracy, we think of voting in elections. Of course, voting is essential, but democracy means so much more,” said Tim Hellwig, professor of political science and Themester 2020 advisory committee co-chair. “I hope that Themester will help IU students to think broadly about whether and how democratic principles are used – or abused – in their daily lives.”

Highlights from the fall Themester calendar include:

Alexander Payne’s 1999 comedy “Election,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick, will be the focus of a conversation presented in partnership with IU Cinema.Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures


Themester will partner with IU Cinema to present a series of films, including the 1954 animated adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel “Animal Farm” and a conversation focused on Alexander Payne’s 1999 comedy “Election,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. See the IU Cinema website for screening options and suggestions.


The Themester “Democracy” podcast series will feature interviews with faculty discussing their scholarship related to the theme. The first podcast, “Racial Violence: A Continuum,” features Dr. Rasul Mowatt discussing 11 forms of racial violence. The series is produced by Themester student interns.

This fall, the podcast “All Careers Considered,” produced by the Walter Center for Career Achievement, features IU alumni whose careers relate to the theme of democracy. The first episode is an interview with Cherrish Pryor, a Democratic representative in the Indiana House of Representatives.

For a complete list of Themester 2020 events and details, visit the Themester News + Events page. Most events are online as well as free and open to the public, but some require registration.

Themester is an initiative of the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.

Themester 2020 events and programs complement College of Arts and Sciences courses. For a complete list of courses, visit Themester Courses.

Media Contact

College of Arts and Sciences

Tracy Bee

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