As part of the University of Michigan’s bicentennial celebration throughout 2017, President Mark Schlissel will sponsor and host a series of three colloquia exploring topics related to the university’s future.

Schlissel unveiled plans for the academic seminars Monday at a meeting of the faculty’s Senate Assembly. Topics will be the future university community, the future of the social compact with universities, and the future place of the university.

In conjunction with each colloquium, Schlissel said, he and Provost Martha E. Pollack will encourage deans to organize workshops “within schools and clusters of schools to turn this into a really scholarly consideration of where we are and where we think we’re heading the century ahead.”

The president also announced the appointment of five Presidential Bicentennial Professors who will organize and oversee the colloquia and related activities. They are:

• Susan E. Alcock, special counsel for institutional outreach and engagement, and professor of archaeology and classics.

• Paul N. Courant, Harold T. Shapiro Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and professor of economics and information.

• Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of history, Afroamerican and African studies, and adjunct professor of law.

• Mika LaVaque-Manty, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and associate professor of political science, philosophy and Honors Program.

• Joanna M. Millunchick, professor of materials science and engineering.

A statement outlining the topics of the colloquia highlights U-M’s role in helping to shape the “uniquely American model of the great modern public university: an institution that combines research, education and public service; that stresses both the life of the mind and the life of practical achievement; that is broadly accessible while devoted to educating the leaders of the future.”

Organizers say the colloquia will be an opportunity for the campus community to discuss the challenges facing the university and higher education, drawing meaning from the university’s past as it imagines its future.

About the colloquia

The Future University Community (Winter 2017)

Presidential Bicentennial Professor: Martha S. Jones

Who will be the university’s future students, faculty, staff and alumni, and how will they engage in the work of the university? As an institution long committed to the idea that diversity is fundamental to learning and the advancement of knowledge, how should we think of diversity in our third century and what will be the challenges to sustaining it?

Furthermore, how will we constitute an academic community across a diverse spectrum of ideas, experience, and points of view? How will we take up the challenge of learning that extends over a lifetime? This colloquium examines what sort of community we want our future university to be.

The Future of the Social Compact with Universities (June 2017)

Presidential Bicentennial Professors: Susan E. Alcock and Paul N. Courant

In conjunction with the annual Tanner Foundation meeting, which will bring together an extraordinary group of university leaders and which will take place in Ann Arbor, this colloquium explores the future public missions of the university — the university’s roles, in Harold Shapiro’s phrase, as “servant and critic of society.”

 How can the university best engage with the many public interests, concerns and controversies that are inevitably part of its work?  What should society expect from the university, and how should the university respond to those expectations?  How do we assure that the rich life of the mind is recognized as essential to any successful contract between the university and society at large?

The Future Place of the University (October 2017)

Presidential Bicentennial Professors: Mika LaVaque-Manty and Joanna M. Millunchick

Exploring the meaning behind being a place-based, residential university entering its third century, this colloquium examines what is special and unique about the residential experience — bringing together students, faculty and staff from different areas and putting them next to one another.

It explores the multiple functions of the university and how the university’s learning experiences can be designed to take advantage of the co-location of different people and different functions. What are the various places of the university — locally, national and globally — and how do they fit together in an overall mission?

How do we create places designed for third-century learning and pursuit of knowledge, and how should the physical places and spaces of the university link to the digital spaces of the university?