University of Iowa

For the Theme Semester  "American Dream", we're bringing together the University, City of Iowa City, state of Iowa, and national experts to explore topics involving the future of our nation.

We're exploring topics and asking questions, such as how can our university equitably serve in the 21st century? What do Americans desire? How can we imagine an American dream that embodies the values and aspirations of all Americans? How do we ensure that all Americans have an equitable say, that all exert agency over their lives, that we treat everyone with compassion and respect? How do we imagine a dream that replaces exclusion with inclusion? What does the American Dream mean to the most diverse generation in this country’s history?



  •  Equitable Visual Representation in Fashion (Exhibition Title: Hats Off! | January 2019 - May 2019 | Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA) 
  • JAN 21 MLK Day of Service: Join other UI students, faculty, and staff, and Iowa City community members for a Day of Service in Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Kicks off in the IMU 2nd Floor Ballroom with check-in from 8:00 - 8:30 AM, where you will receive your volunteer location and free t-shirt (while supplies last).  Volunteers will travel to their locations and serve from 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM.  After serving, volunteers will return to the IMU for a celebration and reflection that includes a free lunch!!  The event will conclude by 1:30 PM.
  • JAN 25th Coffee with Dan: Meditation on home and its fundamental relationship to the American Dream


  • MLK, Jr. Week 2019: More events and activities happening during this week that will be supported by Theme Semester
  • FEB 18th Generation Wealth: Collaborating with FilmScene to show the film which examines materialism, celebrity culture, and social status and reflects on the desire to be wealthy at any cost
  • FEB 21st Book Discussion: Thursday at 7 pm, Coralville Public Library Board Room
    Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • FEB 23rd  Author Deon Harris: author of The Basic Essentials of Doing Time Constructively: The Politics of Prison and Dog Food, Deon Harris will be holding a book discussion and sharing stories from his life
  • FEB 26 Iowa Justice Action Network (IJAN): Topic: Voting Rights Restoration and other Barriers for Returning Citizens


  • MARCH 3rd Carla Dawson (CURE) –  Reconciliation in Rwanda - March 3
  • MARCH 7th - Living Beyond The Bars of Iowa (LBTB's) - Support and Resources for Inmates and their loved ones - March 7 at 4 PM
  • MARCH 19th CRUSH: CRUSH of Iowa is a grass roots, community based organization that is focused on helping those who have fallen victim to opioid addiction.  The current opioid epidemic is spreading across the country.  CRUSH of Iowa has the mission of educating communities throughout the state and working to prevent further loss of loved ones to substance abuse. They will be having a panel discussion.
  • MARCH 25th The Struggle for Worker Safety in Iowa’s Meatpacking Industry
    Iowa Memorial Union, 3rd Floor Conference Room TBA. 4pm – 5:30pm. A conversation about Iowa meatpacking workers’ historical and contemporary struggles to secure safe workplaces, and how current state and national politics are influencing this issue. Panelists will include Iowa meatpacking workers, Labor Center oral historian John McKerley, and UI faculty TBA. 
  • MARCH 25th Pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha Discusses the Water Crisis in Flint, MichiganCollege of Public Health, Callaghan Auditorium, 7pm8pm.
    A community conversation with physician, scientist, and activist Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP, about her book, “What the Eyes Don’t See,” which examines the origins and impacts of the water crisis in Flint and implications for communities across America.

  • MARCH 30th Workers’ Dream for an America that “Yet Must Be”
    Old Capitol Town Centre, Suite 2520, 9am-4pm. A one-day public conference that will bring together statewide leaders from grassroots labor, faith, civil rights organizations, as well as members of the campus community, to examine workers’ struggles to define and achieve an American Dream for themselves and their families in history and today. The conference is sponsored by the UI Labor Center and the Iowa Labor History Society. Invited keynote speaker: Pablo Alvarado (Executive Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network; co-founder, Institute of Popular Education of Southern California; named one of TIME magazine’s 25 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. in 2005.


  • APRIL 10th Community Resources to Stop Heroin (CRUSH) (Opioid and Heroin crisis)---April 10 at 2 PM
  • APRIL 18th: Book Discussion: Thursday, April 18 at 7 pm, Coralville Public Library Board Room
    Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  • APRIL 22nd: Lecture - Does journalism endanger the American dream? 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM, Becker Communication Studies Building, 101
    Prof. Michael Schudson of Columbia University will deliver the School of Journalism and Mass Communication's 2019 McGranahan Lecture.  The event is free and open to the public. Prof. Schudson is a renowned journalism scholar, the author of seven books on the history and sociology of the media, and the recipient of multiple honors, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius” Fellowship. You can read more about him here:  

    APRIL 24th “Sneak Peek” Screening of New Documentary on the 9to5 Movement
  • Jane Fonda’s idea for the movie “9 to 5” was inspired by an actual national organization of office workers co-founded by Fonda’s friend and fellow activist Karen Nussbaum. This film-in-progress tells the story of the working class women who built a national movement to confront harassment and low pay – their victories and unfinished business that women workers continue to confront today.
  • APRIL 26th Workers’ Memorial Day Commemoration
    Each year, workers and their unions across the country observe Workers’ Memorial Day to remember those who lost their lives on the job in the previous year, and to renew the fight for safe workplaces. This year’s event will also commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the worst industrial accident in Cedar Rapids history – an explosion at the Douglas Starch Works in Cedar Rapids that took 43 workers’ lives.


  • Exhibition Title: Anonymous Donor | May 2019 - August 2019 | Figge Art Museum )


  • JULY 23-27 Midwest School for Women Workers
    University-based labor education programs across the Midwest take turns hosting this annual 5-day leadership program that brings together a diverse group of women workers from economic sectors across the region, to study workers’ legal rights, leadership skills, and contemporary policy issues that impact women workers and their jobs. Instructors come from university and labor-based education programs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri.

For Students


For Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff

  • Plan a Theme Semester event or activity.
  • Spread the word! Help bring our message to campus and community by using the hashtag #UITheme at your events and continue to visit
  • Join in! We encourage everyone to integrate at least one activity, reading, or project -- even a modest contribution counts -- into their spring classes and activities!
  • Get Involved! If you have a project, idea, or activity for the Theme Semester or you'd like to work with us, please contact; we'd love to hear from you!

Community Partners, Alumni, and Friends
For Community

  • ​Collaborate with campus and community members on Theme Semester projects, research, or events.
  • Join the conversation by posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #UITHEME throughout the semester.