Thematic Year

English Connections

Democracy & Civic Engagement

2023-2024 is the Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement

The Thematic Year is a central university initiative that serves to highlight the incredible research, programs, academic initiatives, students, faculty and staff who are accomplishing extraordinary things at CSU. Having a rotating annual theme provides the opportunity for the university to focus on major world initiatives that cross through and between all departments and colleges which, in turn, assists in stimulating additional multidisciplinary work at Colorado State.

In the Department of English, we are embracing the Thematic Year in the classroom, among our community, and in our research and creative artistry. Below you'll find a sampling of the connections our faculty, students, and staff are making to impact and elevate this year's theme.

Colorado State University kicks off its Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement with an ice cream social on the Plaza, hosted by the Center for Public Deliberation. September 14, 2023

What is democracy?

Democracy - from the Greek words "demos" meaning people and "kratos" meaning power. Democracy can be thought of as “power of the people”; a way of governing, which depends on the will of the people.

American philosopher John Dewey said, “democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint, communicated experience.”

In the Classroom

Explore how current English courses are engaging with the theme of democracy and civic engagment:

Colorado State University kicks off its Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement with an ice cream social on the Plaza, hosted by the Center for Public Deliberation. September 14, 2023

Upcoming Events

The Creative Writing Reading Series is hosting multiple events this year featuring politcally-engaged visiting writers.

Thursday, Sept. 21: Eula Biss and Mira Jacob

Friday, Oct. 6: Kaveh Akbar and Franny Choi

Thursday, Nov. 2: Writer's Harvest featuring Ramona Ausubel, Dan Beachy-Quick, Matthew Cooperman, and Camille T. Dungy

Visit the CWRS website for more information about our visiting writers and up-to-date event details.

CWRS logo_2023-2024

Banned Books Week: Oct. 1-7

The Community Literacy Center will have a booth at the Lyric Cinema on Monday, October 2, 2023 at 6:30pm. Celebrate all the books at the CLC table at the Poudre Libraries’ launch of Banned Books Week!

Learn more about the CLC here.

Literacy Practices Showcase

The E502 students, in their Politics of Literacy class (taught by Naitnaphit Limlamai), are presenting their multimodal midterm projects on Wednesday, Oct. 11 from 5:15-7pm in the Lory Student Center (LSC) Rooms 322 and 328-330.

They will be presenting their projects showcase-style so drop in anytime in the 5:15-7pm window to view/listen to their projects and ask questions. Their projects examine how our course readings have shaped their understandings of their literacy practices. Come learn about their literacy practices, and how our literacy practices are contextual, contingent, and contested.

Insights: A Liberal Arts Speaker Series

Insights, a speaker series created by the College of Liberal Arts, provides a platform for outstanding faculty to share their work and opportunities for connecting across CSU. These talks will feature short, exciting presentations from four CLA faculty followed by a lively Q&A and discussion with the audience. All events are held in LSC 390 from 3:00-4:30 p.m.

10/18—Democracy, featuring Ernesto Sagas (Ethnic Studies), Matt Hitt (Political Science), Ryan Claycomb (English), Karrin Anderson (Communication Studies)

  • In “Acting out Democracy,” Ryan Claycomb will discuss his work with verbatim theatre, a form that stages fantasies of a utopian public sphere.  He’ll discuss how plays like The Laramie Project register both rational ideas about an issue, but also less tangible affects of democratic deliberation, like hope, empathy, suspicion, or nostalgia.

Inclusive Excellence Symposium

The Office for Inclusive Excellence is excited to host the biggest Symposium for Inclusive Excellence ever. Join Monday, October 23 – 27 for a jam-packed week of incredible workshops, powerful guest speakers and thoughtful events centered around diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice.

Browse the events below featuring English faculty and staff, as well as the Transgender Policy Panel, one of the headlining events co-sponsored by the Department of English.

To view the full schedule of events, visit:

Recent Publications & Stories

Faculty Publications

Discover how our faculty research and creative artistry connect to the thematic year through scholarship contending with ideas like rhetoric and argumentation, access and representation, censorship, justice, equity, and more.





Student Perspective

  • Hannah Prinzi, a senior at CSU studying English and political science, describes the importance of seats at the table in an essay for CSU System's 2024 STATE Spotlight on democracy. Read the full essay.

In the Press

In Dr. Naitnaphit Limlamai’s course “The Politics of Literacy” students developed complex understandings of literacy while exploring how to apply their learning to their own teaching practices.

How should democracy be taught, learned and experienced so that academics meet the challenges of our times?⁠ In “Democracy on Campus,” published in CSU System's latest edition of STATE magazine, this driving question considers the multitude of ways students, faculty, and staff practice and think about democracy at CSU. ⁠

For Camille Dungy, a University Distinguished Professor of English, the health of American democracy is also reflected in language and relationships.⁠

MFA alum Caleb González is a PhD candidate whose research about first-year writing programs at Hispanic-Serving Institutions got him an invitation to VP Harris’ home.

Professor Ryan Claycomb investigates how the theater can register our collective political fantasies, where, in verbatim theater, democracy is staged in the form of a “utopian public sphere” – representative, every day, even-handed, and open-ended.

In CSU’s Department of English, three programs—the University Composition Program, TEFL/TESL, and English Education—are unpacking how we teach and think about our students’ approaches to writing well, learning language, and instructing pre-service English language arts teachers through a linguistic justice lens.

Caleb González poses at the entrance of Harris’ home
Caleb González poses at the entrance of Harris’ home, which includes the official seal of the 49th Vice President of the United States.

Share your connection

Colorado State University kicks off its Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement with an ice cream social on the Plaza, hosted by the Center for Public Deliberation. September 14, 2023

Faculty, Students, and Staff: We want to know how you're engaging in this year's theme! Questions you may consider include:

  • In what ways does your research and creative artistry connect?
  • What conversations are you having in the classroom that inhabit this space? How do your course objectives reflect this year's theme?
  • What events are you planning? Are you bringing a speaker to campus for a special lecture or reading?

Click the link below to fill out the form and let us what you are doing to embrace democracy and civic engagement.