H2O Carolina, campus-wide water theme, will likely be adopted

UNC students will likely see the topic of water in the books they read as well as the classes and performances they attend during the next two years.

The University will likely adopt its first ever campus-wide theme, which would incorporate issues surrounding water into multiple areas of UNC, when it’s voted on Dec. 9.

H2O Carolina — a two-year theme presented to the Faculty Council on Nov. 18 — might also be incorporated into the freshman summer reading program and various dance, musical and theater performances on campus.

The theme, despite its lack of specificity, would prove useful, said professors Jamie Bartram and Larry Band, who presented the plan to the Faculty Council.

“UNC has never done a campus-wide theme before, but the idea of it brings a lot of added value,” Bartram said.

“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?”

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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