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2017-18 Academic Theme: Truth

The Annual Academic Theme: An Introduction

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Since its inception in 1994, the University of Maine at Augusta theme has brought our communities together for numerous activities and programs. Beginning in 2006, an annual colloquium of faculty members has chosen the theme and a corresponding reading to share with other faculty, students, staff, and the larger community. We feature discussions in and outside of our classes and organize events in order to promote larger conversations about the theme. These events have provided a platform for multiple voices to be heard on such significant topics as health and social justice, immigration, and bioethics.  A complete list of 2017-2018 events can be found in the column on the right or on our Facebook page.

The UMA Colloquium is pleased to announce that the 2017-2018 academic theme is truth. As a concept, truth is difficult to define, and we sometimes wield this term indiscriminately while concomitantly proclaiming its primacy. Philosophers might assert that in its simplest form, truth may be understood as a statement about the way the world actually is. This year presents a significant opportunity to explore and discuss the ways we define and deploy truth, while asking important questions, such as how do we know what we know? What are we allowed to know and why? What is the difference between knowledge and information? The late, great Paul Robeson once claimed, “Artists are the gate keepers of truth. We are civilization’s radical voice,” which prompts us to ask, how do different fields, academic and otherwise, understand and talk about truth differently?

A component of this year’s academic theme will be the adoption of a single theme-related book by a number of classes across the curriculum: Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction, by Jennifer Nagel.

Thanks to all the faculty colloquium participants this year: Kati Corlew, Sharon McMahon Sawyer, James Cook, Lester French, Robert Bernheim, Elizabeth Powers, Carey Clark, Sarah Hentges, Chelsea Ray, and Pete Milligan.


Lisa Botshon
2016-2017 Colloquium Chair

Lorien Lake-Corral
2017-2018 Colloquium Chair


The Academic Theme is addressed at Convocation in the fall and then through the spring INT/HON seminar, culminating at the UMA Student Research Conference in April. Other classes also addressing the academic theme include:

Fall 2017
INT/HON 208 – This class will frame the idea of storytelling through the lens of truth seeking.
-ENG 100 (Introduction to College Reading & Writing) – Colloquium book assigned to practice a variety of reading strategies and to consider relationships between knowledge, language, and truth. Students will participate in “writing truths” workshops at the Celebration of Student Writing.
-ENG 101 (College Writing) – Students in this course examine relationships between knowledge, language, and truth, and will participate in “writing truths” workshops at the Celebration of Student Writing.  Students will also participate in Truth as writing exercises, including how to use analogy and exemplification as the means to define abstract concepts.
-ENG 376: Medieval Literature – Medieval literature often uses allegory and dream vision to explore alternate ways to express “truth,” We will explore the idea of literal truth versus moral truth in the texts The Dream of the Rood and Pearl.
PSY 100 (Introduction to Psychology) – this course will use the book in conjunction with the PSY text and activities to explore truth and knowledge through a psychological perspective
-PSY 333 (Psych of Disaster and Climate Change) – We will use the book and discuss truth, knowledge, opinion, and misinformation in climate change.
-SOC 101 (Introduction to Sociology) – Use of textbook in early weeks  to discuss distinct basis of knowledge in sociology as an empiricist discipline
SOC 201 (Social Problems) – discussions of Truth throughout semester; use of the colloquium text in conjunction with other texts to explore metacognition of social problems — what do we actually know versus how do we frame these issues.
-SOC 375 (Social Networks) – Colloquium book assigned in class for discussion of knowledge structures of relational vs. individual qualities
SSC 320 (Research Methods in the Social Science) – will use the Nagel text to frame social science research as an empirical, sceptical, externalist knowledge enterprise


Spring 2018

-INT/HON 188 (Interdisciplinary Colloquium): Drs. Matthew Dube and Robert Kellerman will co-teach this course. It will revolve around weekly faculty discussions on truth/knowledge from a variety of academic perspectives. Each class period will feature two or three faculty members presenting for 20 minutes on the topic as it pertains to his or her field and will be followed by an open discussion.
-INT/HON 300 (Critical Thinking and Writing): Dr. Robert Kellerman will teach this course devoted to an in-depth study of truth and knowledge in interdisciplinary studies. Students will put this study into practice, devising a research project that involves their own field and its intersection with interdisciplinary perspectives.
-SOC 101
(Introduction to Sociology) – Use of textbook in early weeks to discuss distinct basis of knowledge in sociology as an empiricist discipline
SOC 201 (Social Problems) – discussions of Truth throughout semester
SOC 311 (Social Theory) – book assigned/discussed in class
SOC 370 (Sociology of Culture)– book assigned/discussed in class