“It’s a way for a campus to engage with a big global challenge, and it also helps to motivate people to build a community within the University.”
Bartram directs the UNC Water Institute and was once a United Nations water expert.
Jan Boxill, chairwoman of the faculty, said she would be surprised if the proposal did not pass.
“The advisory committee was certainly enthusiastic, and everyone was saying, ‘Oh, I can see how I could incorporate that easily,’” she said.
She added that many departments would benefit from electing to integrate the theme, naming economics, sociology and philosophy, among others.
Boxill added that women’s studies would also be a good fit.
“Most of the world’s work is done by women,” she said.
“Carrying water in many places is a big factor, and the interesting things that go with that are human rights, sexual harassment and abuse.”
If the theme passes, professors will not be required to incorporate it. Instead, the Faculty Council will develop a steering committee to help those interested integrate the theme, Boxill said.
“There are already a whole host of people who are really engaged in the issue of water, and that’s fantastic,” said Greg Copenhaver, a Faculty Council member.
“But it’s really important that the program also works hard to draw people in who wouldn’t normally think about the issue and connect them with it.”
Raising funds to conduct special panels and bring speakers to classrooms will be a major component in giving professors an incentive to adopt the theme, Boxill said.
Bartram said water is a suitable, if not serendipitous, theme to institute in UNC classrooms.
“This is the only University on the planet that has a piece of water infrastructure as its official logo,” he said. “If our symbol is the Old Well, how natural is it that we run this as our theme?”
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