College of Arts and Sciences
Varner Hall, Room 217
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(248) 370-2140
Fax: (248) 370-4280
CAS Advising
Varner Hall, Room 221
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(248) 370-4567

CAS Theme

In celebration of the liberal arts, the College of Arts and Sciences features annual themes that provide opportunities for students and faculty to investigate topics of interest from a broad interdisciplinary perspective. Theme events highlight the multiple facets of a single concept through the perspectives of the arts, literature, the sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences.

The topic for 2017-18 is “Unity in Diversity.” A schedule of past events are listed below. Please check back for upcoming events and updates.

  • Pan Music: Outlawed Traditions to Global Art Form
    April 7, 8 p.m., Varner Recital Hall
    Annual winter concert by OU’s World Music Ensembles (Akwaaba - African Ensemble and Pan-Jumbies - Steel Band) featuring legendary Trinidadian musician Ray Holman. A pioneering steel drum performer, composer, arranger, and educator, Ray Holman is one of the world’s foremost pan artists.  Mark Stone and Patrick Fitzgibbon, ensemble directors.
  • Yé Krik, Yé Krak!  Celebrating our Diversity:  Stories and Fairy Tales from Many Nations
    April 5, 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m., Gold Room C, Oakland Center
    One of the great strengths of the American society is the diversity of the people who live and work together in unity, and the same can be said of the faculty of Oakland University who represent dozens of countries from all around the world.  The cultural, linguistic, historic, geographical and political backgrounds of our colleagues are very diverse.  During this event, we will go back to the childhoods of CAS faculty members who will tell a typical story such as parents tell their children in their country of origin.  What is the moral of the story?  Is there a moral?  The stories we hear as children tend to stick with us throughout our lives, and even influence our thoughts, reactions and activities.  For example, the tortoise won the race, a thought which floats in the minds of those who heard the fables of Aesop as children.  The title of the event ‘Yé Krik, Yé Krak!’ pays homage to the African tradition of the griot, who was traditionally a great storyteller and very respected by the community.  He would begin by saying ‘Yé Krik!’, to which the audience would call out ‘Yé Krak!’.  This interaction would make sure everyone was paying attention.   We will hear stories from a variety of cultural traditions that represent the home countries of our CAS colleagues, such as Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Argentina, Iraq, Syria, Rwanda, Mexico, the USA and others, told by our colleagues.  Come and gather around the cyber fire, enjoy refreshments, and help us celebrate our diversity.  And if you have a 2-3 minute story from your childhood that you would like to tell, please let us know!     
  • Mining Metagenomes for New Branches on the Tree of Life
    April 3, 12:00 p.m., 116 Engineering Center
    Dr. Zhong Wang is a career computational biologist and group leader for genome analysis at DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab; he is also an adjunct professor at University of California at Merced. His research interests include transcriptomics, metagenomics, and high performance computing. Dr. Wang published over 30 high quality papers including several on Science and Nature. In his talk, Dr. Wang will show how one can use his advanced computational tool, “Genome Constellation”, to look for new lineage of life from metagenomics datasets like hunting for new stars in the sky.
  • Comparative Americas, presentation by Professor Jeffrey Insko, Department of English
    March 22, 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Oakland Room, Oakland Center
    In this one-day colloquium, prominent American Studies scholars and OU faculty will explore what has emerged as a pressing question across a range of academic fields, namely: How do we take America, or the Américas, as a single, coherent unit of analysis without effacing the cultural and political variety of this space? The colloquium aims to offer novel responses to this question of comparative scholarship by bringing together two trends in recent American Studies research that are rarely considered together: an increasing attention to transnational cultural relations and a return to the aesthetic concerns (matters of form and beauty) often elided by historicist scholarship. In our colloquium, then, literary, historical, and political comparison is considered as both a mandate and a theoretical challenge. To that end, the colloquium will consider the hemisphere as a space that is both interconnected and varied. Featured scholars are: Kirsten Silva Gruesz (U of California, Santa Cruz), Paula Moya (Stanford U), Nancy Bentley (U of Pennsylvania), and Frederick Aldama (The Ohio State U).
  • Accommodating multicultural/multilingual children in Southeast Michigan Schools
    March 14, noon - 1:30 p.m., Oakland Room, Oakland Center
  • Themes of Transformation: “Dear Music, If it hadn’t been for you…”
    March 9, Noon - 12:55 p.m., 205 Varner
    Phyllis has taught music appreciation courses at OU for nearly three decades.   In this lecture she shares how learning about relationships in music can serve as a vehicle toward enhanced understanding of ourselves and others.  In a study affording opportunity for undergraduate general education students to express musical identity and experience musical otherness through musical decision making in an e-learning environment, music was seen in student experience as a transformational agent in otherness, self, agency, and healing. Thinking-in-music-with-music became a transformative technology functioning as an emancipatory dialogic window into student worlds.   Bring your lunch and discover unity in diversity through the student’s own words and music. 

  • Bio-Brand in the Blacking factory: Material Cultures and the Technologies of the racial Self
    February 9, 3:00 p.m., Lake Superior A, Oakland Center
    What are the relations between personhood and markets, between the fateful difference of race and the material conditions of its commodification and consumption? How, in other words, should we understand the constitutive links between blackness and brand? Within a wider neoliberal context marked by everyday encroachments of “the market,” indeed, as the neoliberal self is inexorably configured as brand and personhood as enterprise, this talk tracks the operations of a “blacking factory” where formations of blackness and its intersectional orders of difference are produced, performed, marketed, and consumed. Taking a single brand icon, the Cadillac, as its case, the talk parses the industrial relations of manufacture that produce blackness as “bio-brand” within enduringly raced and gendered circuits of market value and vastly profitable economies of status and stigma. Highlighting densely mediated social practices of articulation, performance, assessment, and authentication, where the technologies of the racial self, always on the move, entangle and embed the formidable discipline of material cultures, my point is to consider the lubricating allure of blackness as well as its stigmatizing force as exemplary sites of biopolitical manufacture, shaping, and themselves shaped by, the racial orders of acquisitive desire and advancement as well as brutal adjudications of suffering and vulnerability, each geared to the general wellbeing of the population.

  • A Trio of Talks: Structural Unity within Diversity in the Performing Arts, Melissa Hoag, Department of Music, Theatre and Dance
    Oct. 10, 5:30p.m. – 6:45 p.m., Varner Recital Hall
    Structural Unity within Diversity in Music Theory will address how structural unity is manifest within diverse musical genres and styles, including classical and and contemporary Western art music and contemporary American popular music. Many listening examples are promised. (Melissa Hoag, Associate Professor of Music Theory)

    Structural Unity within Diversity in Dance will broaden the focus of the first talk by incorporating art and dance; it will address unity among works by Leonie Massine, George Balanchine, Pablo Picasso, Naum Gabo and other great artists of both genres from the 20th century, as well as contemporary dance artists, including 28-year-old New York City Ballet choreographer-in-residence Justin Peck, and his collaboration with Marcel Dzama on his new ballet, The Most Incredible Thing. (Elizabeth Kattner, Assistant Professor of Dance)

    Structural Unity within Diversity in Theatre" will address the ultimate integral art form: theatre. This presentation will address how storytellers continue to ask the same unanswerable questions (e.g., treatment of women), and how humanity demands that we continue to ask these same questions, regardless of cultural background, era, or geographical location, and that we find answers to these questions. (Kerro Knox, Associate Professor of Theatre, and Karen Sheridan, Professor of Theatre)

  • Trans Awareness and Inclusivity at Oakland University
    Oct. 27, noon - 1:00 p.m., 1050 HHB
    Ryan K. Sallans will present a series of talks and conversations to the entire university on “Stepping Toward a Trans Inclusive Campus.” Sallans is a public speaker, diversity trainer, consultant, and author specializing in health care, campus inclusion and workplace issues impacting the transgender community, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) community.

    For more information please contact Grace Wojcik at or Dr. Jo Reger at

  • Hidden diversity: The origin and evolution of tuberculosis in the Americas.
    Nov. 4, Noon – 1 p.m., 203 Dodge Hall
    Anne C. Stone, Ph.D., Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change.
    Dr. Stone's talk will focus on the evolutionary history of tuberculosis and how it became a worldwide distributed disease. Integrating genomic information of ancient pathogens with human migrations patterns before and after the European colonization of the Americas, Dr. Stone will take us on a journey to understand the history of this disease, its co-evolutionary patterns with humans, and the implications of these discoveries for modern-day medicine. Dr. Stone joins us from Arizona State University where she is a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Her research focuses on anthropological genetics and paleopathology to understand how humans and other primates have adapted to their environments (including diseases). Her group is currently focusing on the population history of Native Americans, the evolutionary history of the great apes, and the co-evolution of primates with the agents of leprosy and tuberculosis (Mycobacteria). 

  • Bat Conservation Event: The ecology and diversity of bats
    Nov. 16, Noon - 1:00 p.m., Oakland Center, Lake Superior Room B
    The Oakland University Ecology Club, in partnership with the Organization for Bat Conservation, will host a 1 hour interactive presentation on the ecology and diversity of bats.  Topics will include threats to bat populations, the ecosystem services they provide, and practical measures that we can take to ensure the effective conservation of these important - yet-misunderstood animals.
The 2016-17 CAS theme graphic designed by John McCarthy, assigned by Maria Smith Bohannon, DES 350 (Graphic Design II).

Past themes:

  • Presidential Leadership (2004-2005)
  • Environmental Explorations (2005-2006)
  • Global Citizenship (2006-2007)
  • Cities (2007-2008)
  • Revolution (2008-2009) 
  • Religion and Society (2009-2010) 
  • Frontiers and Borders (2010-2011)
  • Water (2011-2012)
  • Cracking Codes: Literacy Now (2015-16)